When Manchester United fell behind early on against Fulham, much of the focus would’ve been on the woes of Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw and Paul Pogba in allowing Ademola Lookman to score.
Whilst those three aforementioned Red Devils stars were certainly lax in the moment, piling blame on them perhaps takes credit away from Fulham and particularly Ruben Loftus-Cheek for their fine play.
Well before Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa played that lovely ball over the top, the Chelsea loanee had smartly invested in some off-the-ball play to catch United off guard.
The England international was and is being deployed in a right attacking midfield role, but he showed brilliant movement and overall patience to leave the left side of United’s defence wanting.
With Kenny Tete acting as one of the wing-back’s in this system, Shaw essentially had two players to keep an eye on – but the otherwise in-form star didn’t fully commit to either.
Anthony Martial being relatively close to Tete left Shaw keeping an eye on Loftus-Cheek – but importantly not tight to the creative midfielder.
Then came the mishaps of Maguire, Loftus-Cheek did not move much rather occupy a smart half-space, which led the centre-back follow him across towards the wing and stand behind him.
With that, Loftus-Cheek opened up the space for Lookman to exploit in behind. The final phase of the move came when the Chelsea and RB Leipzig loanees both sprang forward – with Anguissa crowning their tidy movement with a fine ball over the top.
Take a look at how the moment played out below:
Ademola Lookman strikes early for Fulham! ?
A crisp strike into the far corner. The perfect start for the hosts ? pic.twitter.com/cf8yAxLKTw
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) January 20, 2021
Pictures from BT Sport and Canal+
Eric Bailly also faces some fault for this moment, when Maguire poorly decided to shuttle all the way across, the Ivorian stayed in the middle of the pitch – leaving Paul Pogba to track Lookman.
Pogba, the enigmatic and opinion-splitting superstar is of course an attacking player first and foremost, his mind appeared set on not trailing Lookman too closely and hoping to set an offside trap.
That of course failed though, so when Anguissa’s pinpoint ball came over the top, Lookman was left with all the time and space in the world to compose himself and score from a very tight angle.
Even if Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side didn’t manage to stop the inevitable ball over the top with some changes looking back, if they were at least closer to Lookman that would massively reduce his chances of scoring from such an angle – which again speaks volumes of his brilliant final finish.
Chelsea fans will be delighted to see the impact Loftus-Cheek made here and the overall threat he’s shown against the Red Devils, as he continues to look encouraging out on this loan spell.