Manchester United’s winning streak came to an end at Selhurst Park on Wednesday night. Crystal Palace picked up a late free kick to spoil the party after trailing 1-0 for nearly the whole second half. It’s the first result to really go against United since the loss to Aston Villa, and delivered some bad vibes ahead of a big, big game at the weekend.
It was a lively start to the match, with the opening minutes seeing both teams charging forward. United were looking to the wings as usual, with Marcus Rashford nearly getting a run at goal before Nathaniel Clyne pushed his trajectory wide. Debutant Wout Weghorst presented a pretty clear target in the middle, but
The clearest chance came after about 10 minutes, with Rashford in behind against the keeper, but the linesman’s flag rightly went up for offside. It was only the start of the positive play however, and they did well to keep the pressure on Palace in the middle of the park and continue searching for chances going forward.
Weghorst got his first real chance at the half hour mark, getting onto the end of a well placed cross from Luke Shaw. He rose in time, but timed his connection poorly to send it wide of Guaita’s goal.
As for Palace, the possession in United’s half dried up for the most part, but they did get forward after about 40 minutes to force a brilliant save from David De Gea. Odsonne Edouard fired toward the top left corner, but the Spaniard dove just in time to push it over the bar.
The opening goal would come soon after, but it was back in the visitors’ hands as they got in front just ahead of the break. Building forward from the left, good interplay between Eriksen, Rashford, and Bruno Fernandes created space for the latter, who took a touch and shot powerfully from the center of the box to finish the move. Weghorst’s run in the movement helped open the space as well, and even without getting many touches it was evidence of his contributions in the first half of action as his side went in 1-0 up.
The second half did not present more opportunities right away, and the game sort of settled into a stalemate. United couldn’t make many meaningful chances despite their possession and forward thinking, and Palace were unable to properly break out to create chances themselves. Changes came for United after an hour of play, adding Scott McTominay to midfield while withdrawing Weghorst, and swapping Antony for Alejandro Garnacho.
Palace would force another good save from De Gea off of a corner kick, and kept applying pressure by keeping possession going into the final minutes. United looked as though they were holding on a bit, and nothing cemented that feeling quite like Casemiro committing a tactical foul to deny Zaha a run at Varane. He took a yellow card for it, and will now be suspended for the big clash with Arsenal at the Emirates on Sunday.
The bad times would continue into stoppage time, where Michael Olise hit a stunning free kick off the underside of the cross bar and past De Gea’s glove to equalize for Palace. It would take something special, and late, to get back in front, and Bruno nearly delivered just that, but it just didn’t fall his way.
It was a frustrating night all around for United, with very little going their way in the second half. They certainly didn’t look up to the standard of their current form despite a lively first half, and have some work to do before the weekend. Erik ten Hag will have to plan with a shuffled squad and without Casemiro going against the league leaders.