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Edinson Cavani welcomed fans back to Old Trafford in style but Fulham cancelled out the Manchester United striker’s spectacular long-range effort on a night when anti-Glazer sentiments were made loud and clear.
It had been 436 days since supporters last stepped inside the ground due to the coronavirus pandemic and the 10,000 in attendance for the Red Devils’ final home game of the season produced a remarkable atmosphere.
Returning fans, many donning green and gold scarves and carrying placards, made their anger at the owners known on Tuesday, when Cavani lit up an ultimately-frustrating 1-1 Premier League draw with an incredible goal on his first appearance in front of United fans.
The 34-year-old showed superb skill and awareness to aim a 35-yard effort over backpedalling Fulham goalkeeper Alphonse Areola, with the goal given the green light by the video assistant referee despite an offside call.
There was a similarly narrow decision that went Fulham’s way as they eked out a late equaliser, with Joe Bryan all too easily directing home Bobby De Cordova-Reid’s cross as United missed the chance to wrap up second place.
That equaliser underlined the need for reinforcement this summer and fans underlined their desire for change by making their displeasure at the owners, particularly co-chairman Joel Glazer, clear after 14 months away.
After working to keep fans out of last week’s matches following this month’s Liverpool postponement, 10,000 were welcomed in on Tuesday and supporters quickly dusted off the songbook.
Players received a touching ovation as they made their way on to the pitch and were soon roaring their side forwards, with Paul Pogba heading over the first chance of the evening before Cavani went to ground in the box looking for a penalty.
A corner was awarded instead, with a green and gold scarf thrown at Luke Shaw before he took it.
The fan who chucked it was swiftly removed by stewards, although he was still there to witness Cavani’s jaw-dropping 15th-minute effort in front of the Stretford End.
Bruno Fernandes appeared to get the slightest touch on a fizzing David De Gea ball out from the back and Cavani spotted Areola off his line, clipping an audacious 35-yard effort over the Fulham goalkeeper to send the crowd wild.
The Uruguayan striker was mobbed in the corner by his team-mates and was able to breathe a sigh of relief after the VAR ruled him onside.
United continued in the ascendancy and Fernandes saw a snapshot smartly saved by Areola in the 26th minute, although the Portuguese collected a booking for unceremoniously halting teenager Fabio Carvalho’s burst on goal.
Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa had a header saved from a corner before Harrison Reed limped off to be replaced by Joachim Andersen, with fans bellowing out their first significant rendition of ‘we want Glazers out’ during that break in play.
Carvalho was looking lively for the visitors and all too easily got beyond Victor Lindelof in the 38th minute, only for him to fail to succeed with his attempt to beat De Gea when one-on-one.
Areola saved a thumping Fernandes attempt and Shaw burst forward to lash the ball wide from distance.
Fernandes struck a free-kick just off target early in the second half as United stayed on top, although their inability to get a second goal was offering Fulham hope and De Gea had to react well to thwart Ademola Lookman and then Carvalho.
Areola thwarted Mason Greenwood before Fernandes flashed over the rebound, before Fulham capitalised on poor work at the other end to level in the 76th minute.
De Cordova-Reid was put through on the right to send a cross to the far post, where inexplicably unmarshalled Bryan simply headed home. VAR Simon Hooper pored over replays before deciding there was no offside in the build-up.
Fernandes attempted to fire United back ahead but there was no winner as the match petered out.
United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer took to the microphone to thank fans for their support after the final whistle, when Paul Pogba and Amad Diallo carried a Palestine flag around the pitch.