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Football: Bent stuns Old Trafford as United slump again

Darren Bent scored a dramatic 94th-minute equaliser as the Premier League's bottom club Fulham undermined Manchester United's Champions League hopes in a 2-2 draw at Old Trafford on Sunday.

MANCHESTER: Darren Bent snatched an equaliser in the fourth minute of injury time as Manchester United slipped to a 2-2 draw against the Premier League's bottom club Fulham on Sunday.

Steve Sidwell gave former United coach Rene Meulensteen's side the lead in the 19th minute and the visitors looked like they would cling on for a shock win.

The visitors, who had conceded 27 goals in their previous nine league matches, were compact and hard-working, which initially frustrated a United side who were desperately short of inspiration.

With 12 minutes remaining, Robin van Persie tapped in to pull United level and two minutes later, Michael Carrick's shot looked to have earned them victory.

But deep into added time, Bent headed in from close range to earn the Cottagers a draw.

After falling behind on 13 occasions in the league this season, it was just the fifth time that United have subsequently avoided defeat, but they are now nine points adrift of fourth-place Liverpool.

Meulensteen's side looked much improved and they will take heart from their stubborn performance as they avoided defeat for just the fourth time in 17 league games.

United were predictably dominant in possession from the start, but they struggled to find gaps in the Fulham defence.

After 10 minutes, the visitors, who were penned in their own half, were grateful to a fine sliding challenge from Sascha Riether after Van Persie had been slipped through by Darren Fletcher.

Van Persie threw his head at a Wayne Rooney cross, but Fulham goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg raced out of the Fulham goal quickly enough to prevent the United striker from making telling contact.

Carrick's passing was continuing to dictate for the home side and John Arne Riise headed wide for a corner from Ashley Young's cross after another spell of pressure.

The visitors took a shock lead with their first proper attack.

Riise won the ball from Juan Mata in midfield and Lewis Holtby clipped a pass over the top for Sidwell to surge into the area and volley home.

As a stunned United attempted to find a way back into the game, Rafael lifted a cross to the far post and Van Persie thumped well off target from around five yards.

When Carrick's shot was blocked by Sidwell, Mata lifted a cross over from the right and Stekelenburg again denied Young.

Carrick also volleyed wide from 20 yards after Mata's cross was cleared to the edge of the area by Riether.

For all that pressure, Fulham should have doubled their advantage seven minutes before the interval.

Kieran Richardson cleared Rooney's corner and Swedish youngster Muamer Tankovic ran 70 yards before squaring to an unmarked Richardson, who lifted his shot over with only De Gea to beat.

Stekelenburg blocked from Carrick and Sidwell managed to divert Van Persie's follow-up over the bar, before Nemanja Vidic headed the Mata corner that followed straight at the goalkeeper.

Stekelenburg was finally stretched when he tipped over Rooney's close-range snapshot, before Moyes brought on Adnan Januzaj on the hour.

Rooney thumped just wide of goal from well outside the area as United looked more and more desperate and short of ideas.

The breakthrough finally came with 12 minutes left when Fulham failed to clear Evra's cross and Van Persie prodded in from Mata's pass.

In the 80th minute, they had a second goal when Januzaj's cross was knocked to the edge of the area by Richardson and Carrick's shot deflected off Scott Parker and flew into the top-left corner.

That looked sure to be the winning goal until three minutes into added time when Richardson's shot was saved by De Gea and Bent headed in Fulham's equaliser.

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