Wednesday, February 27, 2019 20:00
Selhurst Park Stadium, Whitehorse Lane, London, London, SE25 6PU, United Kingdom
Homeground of Crystal Palace
Crystal Palace 2 Manchester United 3
Monday, March 5, 2018 Selhurst Park
A stunning injury time strike from Nemanja Matic sealed a second half Manchester United comeback in the Premier League against relegation threatened Crystal Palace. It was particularly tough on Palace who were worthy of their two goal lead after 50 minutes on a day when victory would have seen them move out of the drop zone and up to 13th position in the league. However as the second half developed Manchester United were able to impose themselves more on a tiring Palace who had worked exceptionally hard to close United down throughout.
Palace began with intent with winger Andros Townsend at the heart of much of their attacking forays. In the 7th minute Townsend delivered a cross which Palace's centre half James Tomkins narrowly put wide with an acrobatic overhead attempt. United quickly responded as Romelu Lukaku fed Alexis Sanchez but Palace keeper Wayne Hennessy was quick off his line to smother the effort. Shortly after and the ball was back outside the United penalty area with Christian Benteke, who rolled the ball across for Townsend to fire home from 18 yards via a deflection off United defender Victor Lindelof.
United struggled to find any rhythm to their game, giving up possession cheaply on too many occasions as a hungry Palace side harried them in to mistakes. Only one down at half time United fans must have thought their team was still in the game though and would improve after the break. Yet their faith was immediately tested as quick thinking by Jeff Schlupp on 48 minutes saw him release Patrick Van Aanholt from a quickly taken free-kick with the United players switching off completely. Van Aanholt raced on unopposed to fire in at David de Gea's near post and give his side a deserved two goal cushion.
It was time for United to show their mettle and after narrowly missing with a header, Chris Smalling found the net from an Antonio Valencia cross to pull a goal back. Suddenly it was game on and Palace were to be subjected to intense pressure, though they continued to pose a threat going forward. Palace's long injury list includes Wilfried Zaha and his pace at this stage would have been ideal. Palace had lost all 8 league games so far this season when he had not started and hopes of breaking this run were starting to wobble.
A pulsating five minutes began with Matic seeing his angled shot cleared off the line by Benteke before Lukaku levelled the game on 76 minutes. Alexis Sanchez watched his shot loop over the keeper and on to the bar. Lukaku picked up the rebound before managing to work some space to squeeze a slightly deflected shot in to the corner of the net. However United hardly had time to finish celebrating before Palace were up the other end and it took a trademark spectacular save from de Gea to prevent Benteke putting palace back in front as he clawed away the striker's header.
A point for Palace may still have been welcome at this point but the game had one final twist. In time added on United midfielder Matic controlled a ball 25 yards out before sending a stunning volley beyond the dive of the Palace keeper Hennessy. The final whistle saw the United players celebrate and the Palace players drop to the ground in despair. For United it maintained their push to be the best of the rest behind rivals Manchester City. For Palace it was a chance missed to earn vital points in an incredibly tight relegation battle.