Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Man Utd Vs Crystal Palace


Barclays Premier League | 20 April 2016 | Old
Trafford | Att: 75,277 | Scorer: Delaney OG 4',
Darmian 55'

Manchester United closed the gap on top-four
rivals Arsenal and Manchester City with a routine
2-0 win over Crystal Palace, providing a timely
morale boost ahead of Saturday’s Emirates FA Cup
semi-final at Wembley.

The victory – secured via a Damien Delaney own
goal and Matteo Darmian volley – leaves the Reds
just a point behind the Gunners ahead of their
game-in-hand against West Bromwich Albion on
Thursday, with Manuel Pellegrini’s Blues two points
ahead after their draw at Newcastle earlier in the

Louis van Gaal made three changes to his starting
XI from the preceding win over Aston Villa by
recalling Matteo Darmian, Jesse Lingard and
Anthony Martial in a 4-3-3 formation, with Wayne
Rooney playing in midfield alongside Morgan
Schneiderlin and Juan Mata.

The captain was deployed in a deeper role behind
in-form Marcus Rashford and it was the 18-year-
old’s back-heeled pass to Darmian that led to
United breaking the deadlock on four minutes,
when the Italian's left-wing cross was accidentally
diverted into the net by Eagles defender Delaney.

Martial, Rooney, Rashford and Lingard all went
close to scoring with first-half efforts, with Julian
Speroni producing solid saves on each occasion,
but in truth the opening 45 minutes lacked tempo
and cutting edge, particularly with Palace being so
willing to sit back. Alan Pardew’s players possibly
had Sunday’s FA Cup semi-final against Watford on
their minds, rather than Premier League points.
Possession: United 62% Crystal Palace 38%
Shots at goal: United 7 Crystal Palace 2
Shots at target: United 6 Crystal Palace 0
Corners: United 3 Crystal Palace 2

The second half began in a familiar manner as van
Gaal's men attacked an Eagles defence that was
more than willing to sit back and soak up pressure,
and Rooney almost doubled the advantage straight
away when his low drive from the edge of the area
was diverted away from goal by Souare.
Despite that early miss, United's second goal duly
arrived soon after 55 minutes - although it came
from the left boot of an unfamiliar scorer, as
industrious left-back Darmian latched on to
Delaney’s headed clearance to chest the ball down
and execute a superb volley that soared into the
net, after clipping the post, in front of the Stretford

Lingard and Rashford both forced excellent saves
from Speroni in quick succession on 62 minutes,
just moments before the latter was replaced by
Memphis Depay to a standing ovation from the Old
Trafford crowd. His young team-mate Jesse was
then taken off shortly afterwards, with Wembley
possibly in mind.

Van Gaal made his third and final change on 78
minutes as Rooney depatured the action to plenty
of acclaim from the supporters, following a solid
performance in midfield that should book his
starting place against his boyhood club Everton at
Wembley. One cause for concern, however, was
the sight of a hobbling Chris Smalling after the
centre-back flew into a 50/50 challenge during the
closing stages, although the centre-back confirmed
afterwards that he was fine.

While this match was by no means a classic,
United's performance was undeniably professional
and the result could yet prove to be decisive in the
race for UEFA Champions League qualification.

Possession : United 66% Crystal Palace 34%
Shots at goal : United 16 Crystal Palace 5
Shots on target: United 10 Crystal Palace 0
Corners: United 10 Crystal Palace 2

United: De Gea, Valencia, Smalling, Blind, Darmian,
Lingard (Herrera 73'), Schneiderlin, Mata, Rooney
(Fellaini 78'), Rashford (Memphis 64'), Martial.
Subs not used: Romero, Fosu-Mensah, Rojo, Young.
Booked: Darmian

Crystal Palace: Speroni, Kelly, Mariappa, Delaney,
Souare, Jedinak, Cabaye (McArthur 66'), Lee
(Mutch 60'), Zaha, Sako, Adebayor (Wickham 75').
Subs not used: Dreher, McArthur, Puncheon,
Booked: Kelly, Souare

"I was very happy with the performance and I think
it was a four or five to zero game. We should have
finished it much earlier and scored much more
goals. We are still in the race [for the top four]." -
Louis van Gaal

"I think we've done exactly what we've needed to
do, and it's about having City and Arsenal looking
over their shoulder, and we've put a bit more
pressure on." - Chris Smalling


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