Trailing to Steve Sidwell’s first-half opener, United’s search for redemption lasted until the 79th minute before Robin van Persie and Michael Carrick struck within the space of 120 seconds to turn the match on its head. Carrick’s goal brought Wayne Rooney to his knees in celebration and had manager David Moyes punching the air with relief. Allowed far too much room to advance down the left flank, Holtby was able to drop a superb cross into the heart of United’s penalty area. Nemanja Vidic had been pulled out of possession and as neither Darren Fletcher nor Juan Mata had tracked Sidwell’s run, the midfielder was able to slide the ball past a stranded De Gea with a degree of comfort. It was the first time Fulham had scored an opening goal since December – and they should have scored more. Holtby created a golden chance for Richardson but the former Red Devils man blazed over. Then Richardson scorched past Vidic, only for Rooney to intercept a cut-back that looked certain to set up Holtby. In a season of shattering blows, Meulensteen looked set to inflict the heaviest of all. United were creating chances. Maarten Stekelenburg superbly denied Carrick’s thunderbolt and powerful Vidic header. Van Persie failed to snaffle a half-chance at the near post. Even John Arne Riise came close with a chested clearance to an Ashley Young cross that was far too close to Stekelenburg’s goal for comfort. But that attacking instinct that has terrorised so many opponents down the years was missing from the hosts’ game. When Fletcher lifted the ball deep into the area for Van Persie to head into the six-yard box, no one had gambled and Fulham were able to clear with ease. A rather desperate claim for handball by Van Persie against John Heitinga emphasised the concern starting to grip Old Trafford. Adnan Januzaj’s introduction for Fletcher, followed by the arrivals of Javier Hernandez and Antonio Valencia, meant United had six offensive players trying to score against a team that had kept just four clean sheets all season. Really, United could not fail to score. It was noticeable the accompaniment to Van Persie tucking home Mata’s cross at the far post was merely to lead a charge back to halfway, knowing the job was only half done. When Carrick’s shot looped in off Parker a couple of minutes later it seemed something was finally going to go Moyes’ way. The Scot should have known better. Bent will rarely get an easier goal when it came in the fourth of five added minutes, and while the boos at full-time were half-hearted, there really is little positive that can be said of Moyes’ reign right now. But the celebrations were cut short in the fourth minute of stoppage time as David de Gea turned away Kieran Richardson’s shot, but sent the ball straight into the path of substitute Bent who nodded into an empty net to make it 2-2. Now it was former United assistant Rene Meulensteen’s turn to punch the air as his side, rock bottom of the Barclays Premier League and five points adrift of safety at kick-off, snatched a precious point. For Moyes and United, now nine points away from a Champions League place, a hellish season just keeps getting worse. And, with a visit to Arsenal on Wednesday, there is no end to the trouble in sight. Moyes admitted in the build-up that Meulensteen knew more about the home players than he did, something that can only be expected after spending six years as Sir Alex Ferguson’s assistant until last summer. What was less obvious was the Dutchman’s method of taking advantage of that inside knowledge. In axing Scott Parker and Brede Hangeland and placing his faith in 18-year-old debutant Muamer Tankovic and midfielder Ryan Tunnicliffe, he was injecting his side with vitality so obviously lacking over an eight-game run that brought just a single win. So while the visitors required a scrapper’s instinct to survive the inevitable bombardment, it meant they had the pace to exert pressure on their hosts when the counter-attacking opportunities came. Lewis Holtby was the inspiration behind the visitors’ opener. Darren Bent’s last-gasp equaliser left Manchester United shattered after the champions thought they had saved themselves from another desperate day. Press Association
The No. 6 Trojans suffered their first two losses the season as the men’s tennis team fell short to No. 2 TCU in the quarterfinals Saturday and No. 10 Wake Forest in a consolation match Sunday in the ITA Men’s Team Indoor Championships.The losses followed a win in the first round over No. 13 USF Friday to advance in the tournament.Against TCU, Max de Vroome lost a three-set battle that ended with a 7-3 defeat in the final set tie-break, giving the Horned Frogs a 4-3 win. “I’m proud of our effort tonight,” USC head coach Peter Smith said. “It was one of those college tennis matches that you love being a part of. TCU did a great job down the stretch to get the win.”The Trojans started off with an early lead in the match as de Vroome and Jack Jaede defeated Hudson Blake and Reese Stalder with the final score of 6-4 on Court 2 and Rob Bellamy and Jake DeVine topped Guillermo Nuñez and Alex Rybakov on Court 3 with the final score of 6-3.At singles, the Horned Frogs started off with two wins on Court 1, where No. 6 Cameron Norrie defeated the Trojans’ No. 33 Nick Crystal 6-1, 6-2, and Eduardo Nava dropped only 3 games in his 6-3, 6-0 win over USC’s No. 43 Logan Smith. The Trojans reclaimed the lead thanks to Thibault Forget, who won in straight sets on Court 5, and Jack Jaede, who came back and won 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 after dropping the first set at sixth singles to TCU’s Trevor Johnson. On Court 3, No. 38 Nuñez took three sets to overcome No. 104 Jake DeVine. TCU eventually notched the fourth point and punched the ticket for the semifinal when No. 122 Alex Rybakov battled back after losing the first set against de Vroome and finished the match with an epic 6-7, 7-5, 7-6 win. On Friday, USC was able to pull out a 4-3 win in the first round against USF. After losing the doubles point, the Trojans went down 0-2 after Peter Bertran defeated Laurens Verboven on Court 5 with the score of 6-2, 6-1. USC tied the match at 2-2 thanks to de Vroome and Smith, as they both won in straight sets. Roberto Cid gave the lead back to the Bulls as he defeated Nick Crystal on Court 1 with the final score of 6-3, 6-2. On Court 2, de Vroome upset No. 26 Dominic Cotrone in straight sets. With the score tied at 3-3, all the attention shifted toward Court 6, where Forget was tied 1-1 in his match against Vadym Kalyuzhnyy. After the winning the tie-break in the first set, Forget dropped the second set 6-1. Feeling the pressure on him, he pulled out a 6-2 win in the second set, giving the Trojans their sixth win of season.On Sunday, in the consolation match, the Trojans lost 4-0 to Wake Forest. After losing the doubles point, the Crystal, de Vroome and Smith recorded three losses on Courts 1, 2, and 4, respectively, stopping the play on the other courts. USC is now 6-2 on the season. The next competition will take the Trojans to Palo Alto, where they will face Stanford on Friday, Feb. 26, at 3 p.m.
Spain striker Diego Costa has passed a medical at Chelsea ahead of a proposed £32m transfer from Atletico Madrid.Chelsea met the buyout clause in the 25-year-old’s contract with Atletico and he will now negotiate personal terms.Costa scored 36 goals in 52 games for Atletico this season as they won their first La Liga title since 1996 and reached the Champions League final.The Brazil-born forward is in Spain’s World Cup squad.Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho said in May that the addition of a “killer” strikerwould be a key priority during the summer.The London club scored 71 goals in the Premier League this season, 31 fewer than champions Manchester City, who finished four points ahead of them. Chelsea strikers Samuel Eto’o, Fernando Torres and Demba Ba contributed a total of 19 of those in the league, with 33-year-old Eto’o, now a free agent, scoring nine of them.”We have to try to win as a team, to improve as a team, but also add the attacking player with that killer instinct,” Mourinho said last month.Mourinho will hope that Costa will go some way towards addressing that problem having enjoyed a prolific campaign with Atletico.Costa scored 27 goals in La Liga and only finished third behind Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo (31) and Barcelona’s Lionel Messi (28) on the list of top goalscorers.The striker also scored against Chelsea from the penalty spot in the semi-finals of the Champions League, one of his eight goals in the tournament, as Atletico came from behind to win 3-1 at Stamford Bridge. Costa was born and raised in Brazil and made two friendly appearances for them last year before he became a naturalised Spaniard.