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Tuesday 29 October 2013

Barclays U21s: Fletcher returns as United hold Fulham

Michael Keane's strike earns holders 2-2 draw with Fulham under watchful eye of David Beckham

  • Impressive 17-year-old Moussa Dembele opened the scoring for Fulham

  • Darren Fletcher made his first appearance of the season, playing 67 minutes

Darren Fletcher made his first appearance of the season as Manchester United completed an impressive fightback crowned by Michael Keane's 87th-minute strike.

The visitors had raced into led a two-goal lead thanks to goals by the in-form Moussa Dembele and Muamer Tankovic, but an own goal by Stephen Arthurworrey gave Man United a foothold in the match and Keane seized the moment with three minutes left.

Fulham, who are unbeaten this season, began brightly and deservedly broke the deadlock on 36 minutes when Dembele exchanged passes with Lasse Vigen Christensen before rifling a left-footed shot past Sam Johnstone. Kit Symons' side continued to impress after the interval with Tom Richards blasting over so it was no surprise when, after a spell of pressure involving a series of corners, Tankovic pounced from close range.

The Barclays Under-21 Premier League champions responded well, however, and just before the hour mark pulled a goal back after Tyler Blackett raced down the wing and teed up Will Keane, whose shot was saved by Jesse Joronen only to rebound back into the net off Arthurworrey.

In an open match there were chances at either end with Tom Lawrence dragging a shot wide at one end and the 17-year-old Dembele, a threat throughout, twice narrowly missing before being thwarted by Johnstone.

The hosts, who recovered from a 2-0 deficit to win last year's final at Old Trafford, are nothing if not resilient, and they salvaged a point when Joe Rothwell, who had come close moments earlier, picked out Michael Keane on the edge of the area and the centre-back unleashed the sort of fierce drive into the top corner worthy of David Beckham, who was looking on from the stands, himself.

Fulham lie third in the standings, three points behind leaders West Ham United after eight matches, while Man United are in 14th place, level on points with Stoke City and Leicester City, but with three matches in hand over the top seven in the table.

Barclays Under-21 fixtures

Monday, 28 October
Manchester United (Arthurworrey og, M. Keane) 2-2 Fulham (Dembele, Tankovic)

Friday, 1 November
Chelsea v West Ham United, The Electrical Services Stadium, Aldershot, 7pm  
Norwich City v Manchester City, Carrow Road, 7pm

Monday, 4 November, 2013

Aston Villa v Newcastle United, Pirelli Stadium, 7pm
Bolton Wanderers v Fulham, Lancashire FA, 7pm
Leicester City v Blackburn Rovers, King Power Stadium, 7pm
Middlesbrough v Liverpool, Hartlepool United FC, 7pm
Southampton v  Wolverhampton Wanderers, Staplewood Training Ground, 7pm
Sunderland v West Bromwich Albion, Eppleton Colliery Welfare Ground, 7pm
Tottenham Hotspur v  Reading, Bishops Stortford FC, 7pm

Find out the full Barclays Under-21 fixture list here and view the table here.
To discover the Under-21 Premier League Cup draw, click here.

You can follow developments on Twitter with the Premier League's account @premierleague or via the hashtag #BU21PL

Key Points

  • Manchester United fight back to draw 2-2 with Fulham as Darren Fletcher makes long-awaited return
  • 17-year-old Moussa Dembele scores opening goal for Fulham
  • Michael Keane drive levels match for United as David Beckham looks on

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