Crystal Palace 1-2 Manchester United Analysis: Ibrahimovic and Pogba star in late win for the Red Devils

Crystal Palace 1-2 Manchester United Analysis: Ibrahimovic and Pogba star in late win for the Red Devils

It was a game of controversial incidents and decisions on the referee's part but Jose Mourinho's men deservedly took all three points at the very end of the game.

ninad-barbadikar
Ninad Barbadikar

Manchester United did it late once again, how many times have we heard that in the past and against Alan Pardew's Cystal Palace, United showed signs of real desire within the team to win as they came away from Selhurst Park with a 2-1 victory.

The first half was a dull one as United had control of the entire half but didn't exploit Palace much, they got their goal late in the first half when Paul Pogba coolly finished off a Zlatan Ibrahimovic flick on to give United the lead.

The second half was where the home side really turned up and put on a fight against United and got their equaliser from a delightful little piece of play from Damien Delaney who slid it through to James McArthur who made no mistake from close range to make it 1-1.

Just when it seemed that it was all over, Paul Pogba and Ibrahimovic combined yet again as they have done all season to grab a late goal and give United all three points in a must win game for them in the race for the top four.

Let's break the match down tactically and see what both sides did in the game-

Match was played through the centre of the pitch

Both Palace and United had set up in a way to support build-up more centrally. Pardew fielded a very narrow 4-4-2 formation with Wilfried Zaha playing up top alongside Christian Benteke, with the duo looking to challenge the in-form duo of Marcos Rojo and Phil Jones.

James McArthur played off the right hand side and Chung-Yong Lee was the only winger who played down the left, but he was playing more of a defensive role as well against Juan Mata and Eric Bailly.

Jose Mourinho opted with Mata and Wayne Rooney just in behind Zlatan in what looked like a 4-2-3-1 tactic from the Portuguese, with both players not venturing out wide very often and mostly playing through the centre of the park, this tactic also gave Pogba a chance to have more creative freedom as he showed with his display throughout the game.

One feature of that front four was that all of them were constantly inter-changing positions, which confused Palace defenders at times but since they were so intent on holding their formation and being organised, they never really put any pressure on the United attackers.

The Eagles sat so deep in their own half that even the likes of Daley Blind and Eric Bailly, who started out as the fullbacks on the day,spent most of their game in the opposition's half and tracked back well when necessary. 

Rojo was involved in a poorly time challenge when he tried to stop Zaha from getting away with a two-footed lunge, the Argentinian was lucky to escape with just a yellow card to his name.

The opening goal came for United late on in the first half, a Juan Mata set-piece was flicked on by Ibrahimovic into the path of Pogba and the Frenchman made no mistake in finishing it to make the score 1-0, there was en element of controversy in the goal as Zlatan supposed handled the ball and Pogba was in an offside position, but the referee made no calls and United went into half time with the lead.

United laid back in second half

The second half Palace take the game to United as Mourinho's men backed off and took the foot off the pedal for much of the second half, in the first half, they were pressing Palace whenever they lost the ball and winning it back immediately, but there were little signs of any of that pressing early on in the second half.

Palace grew into the game and a few minutes later after the hour mark, they got their equaliser courtesy of the in-form James McArthur who slotted the ball to David De Gea's right after cleverly being played through by Delaney.

That equaliser awoke the entire United team and Mourinho brought off Marcus Rashford and Jesse Lingard in an attempt to add pace to the game as well as some attacking zest from the two youth graduates, with Rooney and Mata making way for them.

Lingard linked up with Zlatan very well on one occasion and forced Wayne Henessey to make a save from close quarters, the intent was there from United as Palace looked nervous towards the end of the game.

The winning goal came very late for United, in a way reminding the fans of Sir Alex Ferguson's days when the team were such experts at grabbing late wins and they did just that when Zlatan was played through brilliantly by Pogba and the Swede finished it with an excellently taken shot to send the away fans into a joyous frenzy and give his side a well deserved three points.

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