Manchester United moved provisionally back to the top of the Premier League table on Saturday, smashing struggling Crystal Palace 4-0 at Old Trafford. Marouane Fellaini netted a brace, with goals also coming from Juan Mata and Romelu Lukaku. It was another impressive peformance from José Mourinho's men, who will hold onto top spot if Manchester City fail to win at Chelsea in the evening kickoff.
Palace’s pre-match hopes of making life difficult for United’s attackers were dashed within three minutes. Marcus Rashford skinned Eagles right-back Joel Ward before pulling back for Mata, arriving late into the box. The Spaniard was left with a simple finish beyond Wayne Hennessey, and he made no mistake.
United were in total control, and Palace’s only early chance was hardly worthy of the name. A free-kick from out on the right was met by Mamadou Sakho, though the former Liverpool man headed over the crossbar. A string of set-pieces followed in quick succession for Roy Hodgson’s side, though none with the intended outcome.
It took until 10 minutes before halftime, but United sunk Palace before the break. A brilliant deep cross from Ashley Young, checking inside onto his right foot, swung in at the far post to be volleyed home by the gleeful Fellaini. With the visitors having offered almost nothing in attack, it was difficult to avoid assuming the game was already over.
It took less than four minutes of the second half before United hammered the nail into Palace’s coffin, Fellaini sealing his brace by virtue of being the only man brave enough to throw himself at Rashford’s venomous free-kick. His header sailed straight past Hennessey, and Hodgson slumped ever lower in his seat.
The third goal completely killed the game as a contest: United lost their hunger, and Palace their hope. The visitors saw much more possession than they had in the first half, but nudged it around with neither urgency nor inspiration. Eventually United added a fourth, Anthony Martial presenting Lukaku with a tap-in after pulling a low ball across the six-yard box. A routine goal to cap a pleasingly routine win.