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Saturday, 19 October, 2002, 15:55 GMT 16:55 UK
Barthez saves Man Utd
Manchester United striker Ole Gunnar Solskjaer celebrates his equaliser
Solskjaer is United saviour once again
Fulham 1-1 Man Utd

Manchester United lost more ground on their Premiership rivals after they were held to a hard-fought draw by Fulham.

Sir Alex Ferguson's men are now six points adrift of leaders Liverpool and they can consider themselves fortunate not to be further off the pace.

Steve Marlet fired Fulham into a deserved first-half lead following a flowing, breakaway move.


We were in the comfort zone, playing some nice football
Sir Alex Ferguson

But United stepped up a gear after the break and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer displayed his customary predatory instincts to hammer home an equaliser.

Fabien Barthez, so often United's fall guy, then took centre stage as he saved a Steed Malbranque penalty and spared his side's blushes.

  Key incidents
35 mins: Steve Marlet fires Fulham ahead
40 mins: Edwin van der Sar saves superbly to deny Paul Scholes
62 mins: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer equalises for Man Utd
70 mins: Fabien Barthez saves Steed Malbranque's penalty

With several Fulham and United players returning from international action, a certain weariness permeated the opening stages of the game.

United were sorely missing the midfield bite normally provided by Roy Keane and Nicky Butt - both out injured - and Fulham capitalised.

David Beckham and Paul Scholes looked out of sorts, while Ryan Giggs appeared to be feeling the effects of Wales' monumental victory over Italy on Wednesday.

Fulham's Alain Goma and Manchester United's Mikael Silvestre
Goma and Silvestre tussle for the ball
Indeed, sloppy play by the Welshman allowed Sean Davis to release Rufus Brevett and he whipped a dangerous cross into the United area.

The ball eluded United's leaden-footed backline and fell to Marlet, who made no mistake.

The goal roused a sleepy United and but for the brilliance of Edwin van der Sar, Scholes would have restored parity just before the break.


It was very close but Barthez saved two or three great chances
Fulham assistant boss Christian Damiano

Giggs pushed further forward after the interval and he posed a far greater threat with some probing runs.

The equaliser was a result of a mix-up in the Fulham defence, Solsksjaer capitalising to blast the ball past Van der Sar.

Jean Tigana's side pressed for a winner and almost got their reward in the 70th minute when Laurent Blanc brought down the impressive Marlet in the United area.

The Frenchman was awarded a penalty but his international team-mate Barthez - who took gamesmanship to the limit with some unsporting delaying tactics - saved Malbranque's spot-kick.


Fulham: Van der Sar, Ouaddou, Knight, Goma, Brevett, Legwinski, Davis, Finnan, Malbranque, Marlet, Sava (Hayles 78).
Subs Not Used: Inamoto, Collins, Boa Morte, Taylor.

Booked: Marlet.

Man Utd: Barthez, Gary Neville, O'Shea, Blanc, Silvestre (Forlan 80), Beckham, Veron, Phil Neville (Fortune 59), Giggs, Scholes, Solskjaer.
Subs Not Used: May, Richardson, Ricardo.

Booked: Blanc, Barthez, Beckham.

Attendance: 18,103

Referee: M Dean (Wirral).

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC Five Live's Nigel Adderley
"It was a real struggle for United"
Fulham's Steve Finnan
"I thought Steed would score"
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