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Edinson Cavani stunner cancelled out by late Joe Bryan strike as fans return to Old Trafford

THESE are the special moments Ole Gunnar Solskjaer promised Edinson Cavani when he convinced him to stay on at Old Trafford.

Scoring in front of an empty stadium is one thing, scoring in front of fans in The Stretford End is quite something else.

Edinson Cavani cracked home this goal of the season contender as Man Utd drew with Fulham


Edinson Cavani cracked home this goal of the season contender as Man Utd drew with FulhamCredit: Rex
Cavani's team-mates could barely believe what they had seen


Cavani’s team-mates could barely believe what they had seenCredit: Reuters

And when you score a goal that will go down in the pantheon of great strikes at Old Trafford it is something else still.

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His incredible 15th minute chip on the run from 40 yards brought a roar from the 10,000 inside the stadium that sounded like five times that many.

In persuading Cavani to extend his stay to next season Solskjaer painted an emotional picture to the veteran striker of what it would be like to score in front of fans next season.

Solskjaer has promised those same fans they will see the very best of him in the next campaign – and still rates him as one of the world’s best even at the age of 34.

To think he could have come and gone without experiencing the appreciation of the United fans.

The veteran’s impact has been remarkable.

He was a free agent that no big club wanted on leaving PSG. He was snapped up by Solskjaer as the transfer deadline clock ticked down last October.

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Having not played since the previous March and without a pre-season it was always going to take time for him to warm to his task.

Joe Bryan headed Fulham level on 76 minutes


Joe Bryan headed Fulham level on 76 minutesCredit: Times Newspapers Ltd
The Fulham full-back ghosted in to plunder an equaliser


The Fulham full-back ghosted in to plunder an equaliserCredit: Reuters

It has been in the last two months that we have seen the best of him.

He has scored nine of his 16 goals in the last ten games, none more memorable than this one which began with a pass out from the back by goalkeeper David De Gea.

He found Bruno Fernandes and his flick, or so we thought, meant that Cavani was just onside as he started his run from a couple of feet past the halfway line.

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What came next was breathtaking as he spotted goalkeeper Alphonse Areola off his line and executed the most wonderful chipped shot that dipped just under the bar.

Of course there was a VAR check, as always, and had Fernandes flicked it Cavani was onside.

The question was whether he had though because if the ball came directly from De Gea he was definitely offside and replays suggested Fernandes had not made contact.

Still, unless you are a Fulham fan, you had to be thankful this moment was not taken away from the Uruguayan legend.

Spookily it was from a similar spot that the last goal was scored here in front of fans, the second in a 2-0 win against Manchester City by Scott McTominay in March of last year.

Fulham's goal was reward as they never gave up at Old Trafford


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Fulham’s goal was reward as they never gave up at Old TraffordCredit: Times Newspapers Ltd

That came after a loose pass from Ederson offered him a gaping goal to aim at, this was something different.

It was a shame the votes had just been counted for the fans goal of the season which was given to Bruno Fernandes, also their player of the season, for his curler into the far top corner in the 3-3 draw against Everton in February.

After the protests, postponement of the Liverpool game and fixture congestion that Solskjaer felt lead to their two home defeats last week it was a much needed moment of joy.

A moment tempered by the fact United failed to beat this already relegated side and one who had lost seven and drawn one of their previous eight games.

Their 76th-minute equaliser came when Joe Bryan met Bobby De Cordova-Reid’s right wing cross with a close-range header.

The fans fell largely silent after that. They came in their green and gold, held up banners calling for the owning Glazer family, and chanted their disapproval of them at times.

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But at least they were back inside Old Trafford for the first time in 14 months supporting their team and they wanted to enjoy it.

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Mason Greenwood should really have sealed a victory for them in the 74th minute when he latched onto Cavani’s perfectly weighted through ball but fired his shot straight at Areola.

As so often happens a quick goal comes at the other end as it did two minutes later and the importance off the missed chance grows.

For United that now one win and a draw in five – they have lost momentum with just one game before the Europa League Final with Villarreal.

Perhaps it is because their eyes are already on that occasion, with Champions League football guaranteed for next season.

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As Solskjaer addressed the crowd at full-time he got roar when he said they aimed to bring that silverware back to them from Gdansk.

A roar is something this place has missed.

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