Fulham 1 Man United 1
By Adam Marshall
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
Louis Saha fired the visitors ahead on his return to his old club, but Roy Carroll, one of many changes to Sir Alex Ferguson's line-up, allowed Luis Boa Morte's shot to find the net in the second half to ensure the game finished all square.
Saha could have scored inside the first 20 seconds of the game as, straight from the kick-off, he latched onto Diego Forlan's pass and shot just wide of Edwin van der Sar's right-hand post.
In a bright opening, Sylvain Legwinski and Cristiano Ronaldo forced saves out of the respective keepers before Saha's magical moment arrived in the 14th minute.
Roy Carroll's quick throw released the outstanding Ronaldo and, when the baton was passed to Saha, the French forward darted through two defenders and finished clinically over the advancing van der Sar.
Darren Fletcher, another of the changes to the side defeated in Porto, dispossessed Alain Goma but his lack of pace betrayed him and he ended up switching the ball to his left foot and firing off target.
Fulham almost equalised when Legwinski's header from a Sean Davis corner flicked off Roy Keane and clipped the bar. Keane was deployed as a centre back alongside Wes Brown in the latest attempt to solve United's defensive problems, and performed admirably, but this was another poor display by Sir Alex Ferguson's men.
Brian McBride's header wide was the final chance before the break, and Ronaldo almost started the second half with a goal after dribbling past Moritz Volz.
More wonderful work from Ronaldo was wasted when Forlan produced a tame header straight at van der Sar, but United's defence started to creak at the other end with John O'Shea's error almost letting in Boa Morte.
Boa Morte did profit when gathering a McBride pass, gliding past Brown and firing through Carroll's disappointing attempt to keep it out.
There was controversy when van der Sar collided with Saha when his former team-mate moved onto Forlan's pass but referee Alan Wiley did not award a penalty and even booked substitute Ruud van Nistelrooy for complaining before he was introduced to the action!
Van Nistelrooy eventually did replace Forlan, with Ryan Giggs also coming off the bench, but there were precious few opportunities for the big-name duo to have any impact on the game. Van Nistelrooy did run onto a Giggs cross towards the end but van der Sar did enough to keep his fellow Dutchman out.
Ronaldo's free kick was comfortably fielded by van der Sar, and the Portuguese winger later just failed to connect with a deep cross at the far post, as United failed to do enough to clinch the points and, consequently, lose more ground on leaders Arsenal.