Louis Van Gaal and Manchester United will be celebrating a first trophy since the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson, as a local lad in Jesse Lingard scored a fabulous winning goal in extra-time to break Crystal Palace hearts.
Controversy in a tactical first half
The game itself was synonymous of a typical Ferguson season, beginning cautiously but maturing into an entertaining display, wrapping up victory in 'Fergie time'. Both teams traded blows in a tactical battle of a first half, where the two 4-2-3-1 formations cancelled each other out.
Palace were happy to soak up the usual United possession and attempt to hit them on the break with their speed on the flanks, whilst United looked to pick out the tireless runs of the impressive Marcus Rashford. Yannick Bolasie and Juan Mata both tested the opposing goalkeepers, though the Eagles would have felt hard done by when referee Mark Clattenburg inexplicably pulled back play for a foul on Connor Wickham, despite the striker carrying the advantage and putting the ball in the back of the net.
An open second half captures Wembley hearts
United seemed to wake up after the break and were unlucky not to take the lead themselves on two occasions. First, a delicate flick from young Rashford, who continues to push for a place in Roy Hodgson's final Euro 2016 squad, found Marouane Fellaini who blazed the ball against the crossbar. Not long after, another young United talent in Anthony Martial saw his powerful header also cannon off the woodwork.
Yet it would be Palace who drew first blood through substitute Jason Puncheon. Pictures before the match showed the midfielder consoling an emotional Wilfried Zaha who made the starting XI in his place, yet Puncheon showed no signs of concern as he beat the United offside trap to fire a beauty of a half volley past David De Gea at his near post.
Though the lead was to last no more than three minutes, as United captain Wayne Rooney weaved his way past several opponents, before picking out Mata via a Fellaini chest down who fired United level with ten minutes to play. Zaha a had a chance to win it in injury time before the game went to an extra 30 minutes.
Smalling off, but Lingard wins it
It was a typical extra-time display as both sides were content to try not to lose the game rather than win it. Bolasie was kept out by an excellent De Gea stop, before the pendulum swung firmly in Palace's favour when Chris Smalling was sent of for a send bookable offence. Though United failed to give in and when Antonio Valencia beat Puncheon too easily and saw his driven cross cleared only as far as young Lingard, the magic of the cup returned as the man from Warrington smashed his home club to the title.
It was United's first FA Cup success for 12 years and their 12th success, whilst Louis Van Gaal's job remains in the balance, though it was one of his youngsters that he continues to bleed into his matchday squad who won the Dutchman his first trophy in English football.