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
Australia captain Jedinak paid his own tribute to his countryman Phillip Hughes, the Test cricketer who died on Thursday after being hit by a ball while batting, before kick-off when a bat had been laid on the field in honour of the 25-year-old. Jedinak picked up the bat as a mark of respect to Hughes and was then a considerable presence in the Palace midfield as high-flying Swansea were stifled at the Liberty Stadium. Press Association Suddenly Palace were a different proposition with Yannick Bolasie finally getting into the game down the right flank and Chamakh proving a nuisance down the middle. Chamakh had a clear opportunity to put Palace ahead when Ashley Williams miscued Martin Kelly’s cross – but Fabianski was off his line smartly to smother the shot. Bolasie then clipped the Swansea crossbar from 20 yards with referee Martin Atkinson adjudicating that Fabianski had got a touch on it – but Palace were sent a warning that the threat from the home side was not over. Slick passing play between Bony and Sigurdsson opened up the space for Wayne Routledge to run through unattended but his left-foot shot lacked power and Speroni saved comfortably. Chamakh went into referee Atkinson’s book for scything down Neil Taylor and he was perhaps fortunate to still on the field as he had escaped a blatant show of dissent in the opening stages when throwing the ball down in disgust at the award of a Swansea free-kick. The Moroccan still emerged for the second half despite the fact he was walking a very thin line and Palace were encouraged by Jedinak firing at Fabianski and Bolasie having his shot deflected wide. Swansea winger Montero and Routledge, were not the force they had been in the opening stages but the latter carved out a chance for Shelvey, who controlled the ball on the chest and volleyed straight at Speroni. Palace were defending well but Shelvey’s cross produced panic in their ranks and Speroni had to react smartly to save Sigurdsson’s volley. Swansea had wrestled control back for the most part but openings were not too forthcoming, although Sigurdsson’s effort 12 minutes from time was too close to the far post for Palace’s comfort. Sigurdsson was the most likely player to grab a winner but when he blazed over after taking Angel Rangel’s pass Palace’s point was secure. Crystal Palace claimed a hard-earned Barclays Premier League point in a 1-1 draw at Swansea – with Eagles skipper Mile Jedinak providing a poignant equaliser. Swansea started the day in seventh place with manager Garry Monk saying the next nine games would define their season – whether they could make a challenge for a European place or be looking over their shoulder at the teams below them. They started well with Wilfried Bony’s sixth goal of the season giving them a 15th minute lead but Palace displayed the character and resolve which earned them a 3-1 victory over Liverpool in their previous fixture. Palace equalised after 25 minutes when Marouane Chamakh fell under minimal contact from Jonjo Shelvey and Jedinak scored for the second consecutive game to earn the visitors a point. Eagles manager Neil Warnock said before the game that Monk had taken Swansea to a new level and that compliment seemed justified as Palace were overrun in the opening 20 minutes. Jefferson Montero caused mayhem down Palace’s right flank and Bony twice went close and Gylfi Sigurddson sent over an angled free-kick before Swansea took a deserved 15th minute lead. Sigurdsson, so often the provider for Swansea this season, found Bony on the edge of the penalty area and his smart turn and shot gave Julian Speroni no chance in the Palace goal. It was the Ivorian’s 18th Premier League goal of the calendar year – the best in the division. It seemed a matter of time before Swansea would build on their lead but game turned when Shelvey – recalled in place of loan signing Tom Carroll – got on the wrong side of Chamakh in a congested penalty area and the Palace forward fell to the floor. Jedinak stepped up to hammer the ball past Lukasz Fabianski for his fifth goal in eight games, a remarkable statistic considering his first five goals for Palace came in 123 appearances.
WHO: Cyclists from all over B.C. will celebrate the power of coming together to change the lives of Canadians affected by multiple sclerosis. Top teams include The Rear Guard, Ride Sally Ride and Heart and Soul Tae Kwon Do , and Save-On-Foods corporate team as well as sponsors just to name a few.Some fun photo opportunities Saturday night with cyclists dressed in ‘Canadian’ attire at the day-one post-ride Canada 150 themed dinner on Saturday evening at Lakeside Park in Nelson, at 6 p.m.WHAT: MS Bike West Kootenay Challenge is a two-day community-supported event that raises funds in support of important MS research to end Canada’s disease: multiple sclerosis. This extraordinary two-day 222 km MS Bike tour loops around the Kokanee Glacier in the Selkirk Mountains, from New Denver to Slocan, to Kaslo, and back to New Denver with an overnight in Nelson. There’s also a rely option cyclists can opt for. Also features draws and prizes for cyclists. More information is available online hereCheck-in time 7:15 am; Start time 8:30 amWHERE: Starts at Greer Park at the foot of 6th Avenue and Eldorado Avenue in New Denver, BC circling through Lemon Creek, to Nelson, then Kaslo Park, back to Greer Park.WHY: Canada has the highest rate of MS than anywhere else in the world. Funds raised from MS Bike support innovative research into the cause, treatment and cure of MS as well as valuable services, programs and advocacy for Canadians affected by MS. Saturday and Sunday, cyclists from the Kootenays and all over British Columbia will come together for MS Bike to demonstrate their power in helping to change the lives of Canadians living with multiple sclerosis (MS). MS Bike is the largest fundraising cycling series in North America with the second of four BC tours happening this weekend in New Denver at the MS Bike West Kootenay Challenge.Whether you are competing to be the strongest team, to reach your personal best, or fighting for a cause that’s close to home, MS Bike provides the challenge course and the supportive, fun and inspiring activities.Kicking off at Greer Park, MS Bike West Kootenay Challenge event details are as follows: