Manchester United beat Crystal Palace 2-1 at Old Trafford in the Premier League. Bruno Fernandes converted a penalty in the seventh minute of the match after Will Hughes handled the ball in the box. Marcus Rashford put United 2-0 up in the 62nd minute, scoring his 19th goal of the season. Palace got a consolation in the 76th minute as United hung on. Casemiro’s red card will be a blow for United.
United started well against Palace at the Theatre of Dreams two days before the 65th anniversary of the Munich Air Disaster. The Red Devils seemed to want an early goal, despite some pressure from Palace. In the fourth minute of the match Will Hughes raised his hand to stop the ball being crossed into the box, giving away a penalty after VAR got involved. Bruno Fernandes stepped up to take the spot kick, beating Vicente Guaita to put United into the lead in the seventh minute.
In the 13th minute Wout Weghorst saw his attempt on goal saved after Luke Shaw played the ball into him from the left flank. Marcus Rashford also had a shot in the same minute, missing the target with Raphael Varane also getting a shot on goal, which was blocked. It was a bright start for United against Palace. Rashford was caught offside in the 19th minute with Shaw trying a through ball into him. It could have been a great attack for United.
Odsonne Édouard was caught offside in the 23rd minute after Jeffrey Schlupp tried a through ball into him. Rashford drew a save from Guaita in the 27th minute after Fernandes played the ball into him. United had a great chance to double their lead. Antony forced a save a minute later as United commanded the game. Rashford then missed the target in the 31st minute. In the 33rd minute both Fred and Antony saw shots on goal blocked by Palace.
Three minutes later, Fred missed the target. Chris Richards missed the target for Palace in the 39th minute of the match and Rashford missed the target against three minutes later. Schlupp forced a save from David De Gea in the 42nd minute too. United needed to find that elusive second goal in this match or it will be a similar affair to the 1-1 draw a few weeks back which saw Palace equalise in the last minutes of the match. We don’t want that to happen.
Tyrick Mitchell was booked in added time at the end of the first half for a foul on Antony. United got a free-kick, of which nothing came of also winning a corner in the second minute of added time – which also came to nothing. United went into the break 1-0 up with a lot to do in the second half. A second goal would kill the game, giving United a cushion but more goals are what is needed from this season with goal difference likely to come into contention later in the season.
There were no substitutions for either team at the start of the second half. Rashford missed the target in the 56th minute of the match with United still out to get that elusive second goal of the match. Ten Hag made his first substitution in the 59th minute of the match with Alejandro Garnacho replacing Wout Weghorst. United got that second goal in the 62nd minute with Rashford getting his 19th of the season, Shaw getting the assist.
In the 67th minute Jeffrey Schlupp was booked for a push on Antony, who slid down the slope on the pitch and into the advertising boards. The Brazilian was also booked. There was a fracas with lots of pushing and shoving with Casemiro having both hands on Hughes. VAR got involved and sent the Brazilian midfielder off and now he will miss both matches against Leeds United next week and the Leicester City match. Unless the ban is extended for more than three matches.
Palace made a double substitution in the 73rd minute with Albert Sambi Lokonga and Eberechi Eze replacing Will Hughes and Jordan Ayew. Marc Guéhi saw a shot on goal saved by De Gea in the 75th minute of the match and Palace then won a corner. Schlupp scored a goal for Palace to get them back into the match, assisted by Cheick Oumar Doucouré. Doucouré then had a shot on goal himself, missing the target.
Eberechi Eze saw a shot blocked and then missed the target – both in the 80th minute of the match as Palace sought an equaliser. In the 81st minute, Ten Hag made another substitution with Marcel Sabitzer replacing Antony, making his debut for United. Palace made a double substitution in the 82nd and 83rd minutes with Naouirou Ahamada and Jean-Philippe Mateta replacing Doucouré and Schlupp. United needed to avert a late Palace challenge to get another goal.
In the 87th minute, Ten Hag made another double substitution with Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof replacing Garnacho and Aaron Wan-Bissaka. Jean-Philippe Mateta had an attempt on goal blocked in the 87th minute. Naouirou Ahamada also missed an attempt on goal in the same minute. United seemed determined to keep their lead this time and not let Palace get an equaliser, like they did in the last meeting between the two sides.
Six minutes of added time were added to the match but somehow, it went into nine minutes of added time despite no substitutes or goals being scored in the six minutes of added time. Perhaps they wanted to play until Palace equalised? Odsonne Édouard had a shot on goal in the eighth minute of added time but it was blocked. United held on and got all three points from the match. The big miss of this will be the loss of Casemiro for the next three matches.
David De Gea: Saved a shot from Jeffrey Schlupp at the end of the first half to keep United 1-0 up. Stopped Marc Guehi from scoring in the second half from a corner. Schlupp got the better of the Spanish shot stopper in the 76th minute to get them back into the match. United did not let that slip though. It was a good match to teach United how to hold onto a lead. I am so glad they did and De Gea will be too. ★★★★★★★
Aaron Wan-Bissaka: Played well in the right flank with Antony again – the third match in a row that has happened. He started to add more in the final third, which was good to see – something he has not done too much of recently. In the final 20 minutes of the match, his defensive ability was required more than his attacking threat. The former Palace defender stood firm and helped United hold onto their lead and collect all three points. Replaced by Lindelof. ★★★★★★★
Raphael Varane: It was his first match after retiring from international football with France. He defended calmly, as he always does and this toothless Palace side did not test the defence as much as they perhaps should have. When United were down to ten men after Casemiro was sent off, Palace had the upper hand – well slightly. They pushed and pushed but could not get the leveller. He made the crowd sing in the late stages of the match. What a guy. ★★★★★★★★
Lisandro Martinez: For a short central defender, something which the likes of Jamie Redknapp and Jamie Carragher criticised as he signed for United, Palace’s attacking line, which were much taller than him did not get much. He defended very well in this match which underlines why Ten Hag brought him to the Theatre of Dreams. Martinez is what a defender should be. It was a very Nemanja Vidic-esque performance. What a signing. ★★★★★★★★★
Luke Shaw: The left-back was vigilant in his defensive area and provided lot in the final third, which puts him on the road to being in his best form for United. It is great to see him back after his illness. His final ball on the attack was not the best but he did get the assist for Marcus Rashford’s doubler in the second half. He defended well against Michael Olise, who scored the equaliser in the last match which saw a 1-1 draw with felt like a defeat. ★★★★★★★
Bruno Fernandes: Stepped up for the penalty in the seventh minute of the match and fired it superbly into the back of the net. It sees him in seven goals and six assists so far this season – with more likely from him before the end of the season. He played a role in the second goal, playing the ball in from the right. It is what is needed from him at this time with United suffering with two midfielders out injured and now a Casemiro blow for three matches. ★★★★★★★
Casemiro: In terms of influence, this match was not something to be proud of from the Brazilian. It seems that he needs a break and that is what he will get in the Premier League. There were some glimpses of his class but not enough for the praise to be more. The grab of Will Hughes was not needed and landed him in hot water. He will miss the matches against Leeds United this week and the Leicester City match in a fortnight. He will get some rest though. ★★★★★★
Fred: Added energy and balance to the midfield and it seems like he will be playing more football than he expected – especially in the next three Premier League matches. He got further forward on a few occasions. After the Fracas which saw Casemiro sent off, Fred seemed to be the victim of violent contact – but shock-horror – it was not looked at by the officials. He became more involved after Casemiro was off, which will give him more plaudits. ★★★★★★★★
Antony: The Brazilian had some good interplay with Aaron Wan-Bissaka throughout the match. He was one shot on goal blocked by a teammate, which was a shame. He tried to get on the scoresheet once again, but failed. He will need to work a bit harder on achieving that with five goals and one assist to his name already. He was more direct in the second half until he was replaced by Sabitzer after the red card. ★★★★★★★
Wout Weghorst: The Dutchman got involved in the match against Palace but did not really threaten on goal. He allowed some space to be created and for United to get chances but he was not on the end of them. He’s been a good signing for United sin January and has started six matches in a row, completing 90 minutes just once. He was replaced by Alejandro Garnacho just before the hour with United seeking a second goal. ★★★★★
Marcus Rashford: W9on the penalty for United with Will Hughes putting his hand higher than his head to stop the ball getting past him. Had plenty of shots on goal but was not getting the luck to get them into the back of the net. After Wout Weghorst was replaced, Rashford went through the middle and got more luck. He scored United’s second goal, his 19th of the season to give United a cushion and therefore a victory. What a season he’s having. ★★★★★★★
Alejandro Garnacho: Replaced Weghorst 59′. Came on to give United more pace on the attack. After Casemiro’s red card, United needed to protect their lead. He has 26 minutes on the pitch before he was substituted, which will add to his frustration – but I am sure he will understand why he came off and that it was not a response to criticism or anything else negative – just a tactical approach for United. He’s going to be some player though. ★★★★★
Marcel Sabitzer: Replaced Antony 81′. Made his debut days after signing for United, albeit until the end of the current season. It was perhaps not the best moment to make his debut with United down to ten men but he was purposeful at times and got stuck into the new challenge he has been given. There is a massive chance that he could start against Leeds United on Wednesday with Casemiro sitting out the first of three matches of his suspension. ★★★★★★★
Harry Maguire: Replaced Garnacho 87′. Came on to add more defensive nous to United and it seemed to work well – not that this needs to keep happening. He will be glad of the minutes and the fact United did not concede whilst he was on the pitch will be a confidence boost for him. However, it shows that his future at the club is up in the air right now. It will be up to him to get into contention for more matches or face the music of an exit. ★★★★★★
Victor Lindelof: Replaced Wan-Bissaka 87′. The Swedish international came on after the red card to help United hold onto their lead. It worked for United as they stopped this Palace side from taking any advantage they had been given with United down to ten. I am sure he will ge minutes between now and the end of the season but it is clear that Ten Hag trusts Raphael Varane and Lisandro Martinez more the he and Harry Maguire. ★★★★★★
Goals: Bruno Fernandes 7′ penalty, Marcus Rashford 62′; Jeffrey Schlupp 76′
Assists: Luke Shaw 62′; Cheick Oumar Doucouré 76′
Manchester United: De Gea; Wan-Bissaka (Lindelof 87′), Varane, Martinez, Shaw; Fernandes, Casemiro, Fred; Antony (Sabitzer 81′), Weghorst (Garnacho 59′ (Maguire 87′), Rashford
Substitutes Not Used: Heaton; Malacia, Dalot; Mainoo; Sancho
Bookings: Antony 67′, Casemiro 70′ s/o; Tyrick Mitchell 45+1′, Jeffrey Schlupp 67′
Written by John Walker