Friday, 20 May 2016

C. Palace vs Man Utd FA Cup Final


FA Cup final | Wembley Stadium | Attendance: 88,610
| Scorers: Puncheon 78', Mata 81', Lingard 110

Manchester United’s 12-year wait to win the FA
Cup is over after Louis van Gaal’s men came from
behind to secure a dramatic and exhilarating extra-
time victory over Crystal Palace.

Jason Puncheon opened the scoring late in the
second half, but the Reds mustered a display of
fighting spirit and drew level three minutes later
through Juan Mata. After Chris Smalling was sent
off in extra time, Academy graduate Jesse Lingard
hit a stunning winner that will be remembered for
years to come.

Although it has been a disappointing season in the
Barclays Premier League, after finishing fifth and
missing out on Champions League qualification,
success in the FA Cup has provided genuine cause
for celebration among everybody associated with
United. Particularly for the fans, who have craved
this trophy in the dozen years since the club’s last
success in 2004 when Millwall were beaten in

United and Palace famously met in the 1990 FA
Cup final and the two managers from that time, Sir
Alex Ferguson and Steve Coppell, carried the
trophy onto the pitch ahead of what was eventually
a delayed kick-off at Wembley. That was due to a
lavish and eclectic pre-match ceremony in which
Tinie Tempah performed alongside a full brass
band and choir, with members of the British
military around them, while a huge firework display
sent clouds of smoke billowing around the stadium.

Many pundits had predicted United would dominate
the possession with Palace being happy to sit back,
and that was exactly how the match began as the
Reds controlled the opening exchanges, forging
shots at target through Marcus Rashford, the
recalled Marouane Fellaini and Wayne Rooney.
Palace also displayed their counter-attacking threat
when Connor Wickham thought he had scored on
18 minutes, after rounding Chris Smalling and Daley
Blind to finish past David De Gea.

However, the
Eagles frontman was visibly angry upon his
realisation that referee Mark Clattenburg had
already whistled for a foul on the edge of the
penalty area, in what was a moment of fortune for

Juan Mata forced a good save from Wayne
Hennessey and Fellaini went close with another
deflected header as the first half settled into an
even contest. Rashford, so effective in the semi-
final, also bamboozled Pape Souare with a series
of brilliant stepovers to find Anthony Martial at the
back post, but the Frenchman was thwarted when
his drilled effort was brilliantly cleared off the line
by Joel Ward.

POSSESSION: Palace 32% United 68%
SHOTS AT TARGET: Palace 3 United 10
SHOTS ON TARGET: Palace 2 United 1
CORNERS: Palace 3 United 9

The deadlock was almost broken on 53 minutes,
when Fellaini wriggled past his marker to cannon a
powerful shot off the post, as the Belgian
continued to justify his recall following a three-
match ban. That near-miss prompted gasps of
frustration from United’s fans behind the goal and
they rued their luck again seconds later, when
Martial struck the other post with a well-timed

Saturday’s final became increasingly physical as
the clock passed the hour mark and Marcos Rojo
was first to pay the price, after the left-back
suffered an injury from a collision with Damien
Delaney. The Argentinian was replaced by Matteo
Darmian and he was quickly joined on the bench by
Rashford, who was forced off after Johan Cabaye’s
studs landed awkwardly on the inside of the
striker’s knee.

Disaster struck on 78 minutes as Palace took a
shock lead when substitute Puncheon latched onto
Delaney’s punt to produce a back-post finish past
De Gea. The goal ironically bore some resemblance
to Lee Martin’s winner in the 1990 replay, but it
wasn't as important as United thankfully drew level
just three minutes later. The talismanic Rooney
provided the inspiration, surging through the area
to plant the ball on Fellaini's chest ahead of Mata
striking low through the legs of Ward.

Extra time was required and, after a brief team talk
on the pitch, Rooney continued his cross-country
performance by executing a superb sliding
challenge to deny Wilfried Zaha in defence before
quickly reappearing at the other end to curl a 25-
yard effort wide. Yannick Bolasie also went close
with a long-range effort and it was the Congolese
forward who was later brought down by Smalling,
which earned the centre-back his second yellow
card and an unwanted red card.

Palace ramped up the pressure in the second half
of extra time, going close through Dwight Gayle,
but it was United who found a breakthrough from
the right boot of substitute Jesse Lingard as the
Academy graduate thumped a bouncing ball into
the top corner. It was a goal that clinched the FA
Cup and secured the 23-year-old's place in Reds
history, wrapping up a mesmerising and enthralling
final at Wembley.

POSSESSION: Palace 33% United 67%
SHOTS AT TARGET: Palace 14 United 24
SHOTS ON TARGET: Palace 6 United 3
CORNERS: Palace 8 United 12

United: De Gea, Valencia, Smalling, Blind, Rojo
(Darmian 66'), Carrick, Fellaini, Mata (Lingard 90'),
Rooney, Martial, Rashford (Young 72').
Subs not used: Romero, Jones, Schneiderlin,
Booked: Smalling (sent off), Rojo, Mata, Fellaini,

Palace: Hennessey; Ward, Dann (Mariappa 90+3),
Delaney, Souare; Zaha, Cabaye (Puncheon 72'),
McArthur, Jedinak, Bolasie; Wickham (Gayle 86').
Subs not used: Speroni, Kelly, Sako, Adebayor.
Booked: Dann, Delaney, McArthur


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