John Murphy gives us the lowdown after an enthralling battle at Selhurst Park saw United nick the three points.
Crystal Palace 1-2 Manchester United
J.Mata 19′, Fellaini 78′
After three losses in a row for Van Gaal’s United, Liverpool had climbed to within 4 points of claiming the highly coveted fourth spot. Having not scored a goal in over 270 minutes of football, today was of massive importance for The Iron Tulip’s side.
Liverpool head to Chelsea tomorrow with some reports suggesting that Mourinho will be giving a number of youths a run out after the first team celebrations this week. With United having to face an in form Arsenal next Sunday, anything but three points today would have seen United’s Champions League spot fall into serious jeopardy.
With Crystal Palace already clear of relegation, United started today as if they were the only side with something on the line. Blind had a fine effort pushed wide in the early stages and on 19 minutes an Ashley Young cross was met by a handball and United had a penalty. Scott Dann leant slidely forward to block the ball into the box and his upper arm seemed to put the cross out of play. It may have been slightly harsh but the general consensus was that Michael Oliver made the right decision.
After Rooney and Van Persie had both missed their last efforts, Van Gaal had stated that the duty would be passed on. Juan Mata stepped up and unlike his team mates, he struck the ball into the bottom corner.
Shaw went off with concussion, Rooney went off with what seemed to be a dead leg and the game suddenly, turned into a battle. And Palace were the only ones willing to fight.
Increasing pressure from the Eagles saw chance after chance being spurned before a free kick was awarded just outside the box. Chris Smalling had been guilty of holding Murray and Puncheon stepped up to what looked like an ominous position just outside the box.
He struck it well but bizarrely, United’s wall didn’t even bother to jump and a slight deflection off Daley Blind saw the ball spinning over the sprawling De Gea.
One would have been forgiven for assuming United would drive forward after falling behind but the opposite was the case. Palace pushed forward again and again seeking the winner and De Gea had to produce a sensational stop to keep Murray out from six yards after Dann had put it on a plate for the forward with a neat lay off in the box.
United looked dead and buried until Ashley Young stepped up and single handedly took the game by the scruff of the neck. Two excellent runs down the left flank came to nothing until an excellent cross found Fellaini and United were (very much against the run of play) back in front.
Palace kicked on again seeking an equaliser but United managed to see it out.
It was a performance that Van Gaal will not have been pleased with but for the United fans watching, it will surely be of little importance. Anything but a Liverpool win tomorrow, and Champions League awaits.
Ashley Young – what a turn around for the much maligned winger. Had it not been for his consistent ingenuity and drive this afternoon, United would have more than likely left Selhurst Park with nothing to show for their efforts.
If Liverpool win tomorrow, it may not be an exaggeration to say that Van Gaal can thank the winger for United’s Champions League place next season.
Antonio Valencia – Useless. Consistently bypassed in defence, consistently limp in attack, it’s no wonder United are so strongly linked with making a move for Nathaniel Clyne in the summer.
Marouane Felé pic.twitter.com/lZA9kRbx34
— FootyHumour (@FootyHumour) May 9, 2015
Goal Of The Game
— Matchbook.com (@TeamMatchBook) May 9, 2015