Manchester United hosted Crystal Palace in hopes of closing the gap between themselves and fourth-placed Arsenal for the final Champions League spot in the Barclays Premier League. They did just that with a 2-0 home win, thanks to a Damien Delaney own goal and a Matteo Darmian strike, to close the gap on Arsenal down to one.
United lead early thanks to own goal
Just five minutes in, the Red Devils found themselves on the board thanks to a Damien Delaney own goal. Matteo Darmian linked up well with Juan Mata before the Italian slipped the ball in with Delaney getting the touch to it, knocking it past Julian Speroni for an early United lead.
Martin Kelly was the first in the book with Anthony Martial darting right past him on the left-hand side before getting tripped up by the Palace defender. United nearly made it two with youngster Marcus Rashford linking up with Martial before a ricocheted ball fell to Mata who was forced Speroni into a save.
Palace finally got their first chance on 11 minutes with the help of former Red Wilfried Zaha. The English winger used his skills to get past Morgan Schneiderlin before sending the cross into Lee-Chung Yong. The Korean just nodded it down for Emmanuel Adebayor who just sent it wide of the post.
United threatened once again on 25 minutes with Martial forcing the Palace’s Argentine keeper into a save after cutting on to his right foot from a ball delivered by Rashford. The chances kept coming for United as Rashford decided to give it a go, continuing his brilliant play with Martial, but his shot was blocked by Delaney ever-so-slightly but did not result in a corner.
After the young French striker forced Speroni into yet another save, it was Palace who nearly found themselves on the board thanks to a horrible pass from Daley Blind. The pass was picked off by Yohan Cabaye who then released Lee behind the Dutchman. The Korean looked to pick out Adebayor, but Chris Smalling was there to deny that opportunity. In the final bit of the first half, Pape Souare was booked after a wild tackle.
United double the lead just after ten minutes into the second
Just three minutes after the second half resumed, Martial cut the ball back to captain Wayne Rooney whose left-footed effort was blocked by Souare. David de Gea was finally tested after a mix-up in the back for United saw him and Blind collide, but the ball fell to the Spaniard kindly.
Just minutes after yet another Speroni stop that forced a corner, United doubled their lead as the corner was partially cleared towards the edge of the box, and Darmian sent the half-volley off the left post to double the United lead.
Palace were nearly hit for a third after Rashford beat Adrian Mariappa for pace to latch on to Rooney’s ball into the area, but Speroni was there to deny both efforts from the young Englishman. After that near chance to make it three, the chances went quiet until there was less than 10 minutes to play. Blind’s pass from the back was taken by Martial out of the air. He then nutmegged Delaney before feeding Memphis Depay, whose shot was just deflected by Mariappa.
The final 10 minutes saw United just hold possession as the Red Devils marched to a 2-0 victory, putting them just one point back of fourth-placed Arsenal who play tomorrow against West Bromwich Albion.