Reigning Champions Manchester United moved up to sixth in the Premier League table as they beat Crystal Palace 2-0 away at Selhurst Park. Second half goals from star-strikers Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney secured the points for David Moyes’ team, which secured our first away win of the year.
Manchester United fans were given an early lift in the shape of the team news. For the first time ever, United’s starting XI included the quartet of Robin van Persie, Wayne Rooney, Juan Mata and Adnan Januzaj. Marouane Fellaini made his comeback alongside Michael Carrick, while Smalling played at right-back instead of Rafael, who’s head is apparently still sore.
Crystal Palace themselves were on a decent run of results, with Tony Pulis confident enough to face the champions with a 4-4-2 formation which comprised of Marouane Chamakh, January signing Tom Ince and last year’s top scorer in the Championship, Glenn Murray.
United, playing in white shirts, shorts and socks, started off calm and composed, sitting deep and controlling the ball, not wanting to go forward and take any unnecessary risks.
The hosts concentrated on defending and given the chance, launching the ball up high towards Murray & Chamakh, whom Vidic and Rio had under control throughout the entire game.
The first dangerous attempt of the match came after a Wayne Rooney corner-kick rebounded towards the Englishman and he had gone on and swung in a teasing curler towards the far post. Delaney managed to clear the ball on the line to keep the game goalless.
After half an hour, the game started to become a bit more stretched, though still neither side managed to create anything worth mentioning. Marouane Fellaini’s left-footed attempt five minutes before the end of the half which went just wide was the closest United went after Rooney’s curler.
The first half (predictably) ended with a disappointing 0:0. The positives surely being the fact that United had managed to keep a clean sheet and snuff out any sort of Palace threat, on the other hand however, remaining disappointingly quiet in front of goal.
In the second half, Manchester United, struggled to get into the game for several minutes, which led to a couple of Crystal Palace corners which were thankfully dealt with well by the United defence.
10 minutes into the half however, United began to impose themselves once again on the game. In the 60th minute Patrcie Evra won a penalty on the left-hand side of the box.
Robin van Persie stood up to take his second penalty of the season against Crystal Palace, and the result was never in doubt. Dispatching it calmly and confidently into the right corner of the goal. The deadlock was finally broken and a huge sigh of relief from thousands of United fans resulted in a great upsurge of noise coming from the away end at Selhurst Park.
This goal seemed to give the players some much-needed breathing space. The Reds’ next attacking moves came with much more flair and fluidity, Mata in particular, upping his game and setting up a Fellaini shot from the edge of the box, which Speroni managed to cover.
David De Gea then made his first save of the game after Cameron Jerome (who had come on for Glenn Murray) tested the Spaniard with a teasing shot, which the latter managed to push away.
Wayne Rooney then provided the piece of quality for which the game had been crying out for. Marouane Chamakh stumbled on the halfway line losing the ball to Smalling who started a quick counter. The ball reached Rooney via Evra, who’s run had carried him to the byline on the left, and Wazza smashed Evra’s pull back into the top coner of the goal, doubling United’s lead in spectacular fashion.
Robin van Persie missed out on a brace minutes later when he was thwarted by the crossbar, after he had taken on 3 or 4 Palace defenders at once.
On the 80 minute mark, David Moyes made two changes, bringing on Ryan Giggs and Antonio Valencia instead of RvP and Januzaj, who both had decent games, without being at their best. 7 minutes later, Marouane Fellaini, who had had a good game, made way for Darren Fletcher.
For once, United managed to see out the game in rather confident fashion, without allowing Tony Pulis’ side a sight of goal the reds saw out the match and gathered the 3 points, allowing them now to concentrate on their trip to Greece on Tuesday.
All in all, a vital win, which was long awaited and hard fought for. Good to see Wayne Rooney inspired by his contract and Robin van Persie scoring from the spot proving to messers Alaba and Özil that left-footed players CAN take penalties.
Those facts, together with Michael Carrick’s display which made his return to form apparent. (Carrick successfully completed 135 out of 143 passes which results in a passing accuracy of 94%)
Today’s win makes it two clean sheets in two games. Onwards and Upwards!!