Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Match report: United 2-0 Palace

United moved to within two points of third placed City and kept the league campaign on track with a comfortable victory over lacklustre Palace.

Both sides have an FA Cup semi-final at the weekend and Louis van Gaal's side warmed up for the Wembley meeting with Everton with a dominant win.

Van Gaal made three changes to his team from the preceding win over Aston Villa by recalling Matteo Darmian, Jesse Lingard and Anthony Martial in a 4-1-4-1 formation with Wayne Rooney deployed in midfield. 

Palace are yet to mathematically secure Premier League safety and the visitors got off to a poor start inside the opening five minutes.

Marcus Rashford back-heeled to release Darmian down the left and the Italian's left-wing cross was inadvertently diverted past the recalled Julian Speroni by Damien Delaney. 

The Eagles were indebted to their overworked keeper who kept United at bay- and his side in the contest- with a string of superb saves as United threatened to run riot.

Speroni tipped over from Anthony Martial, saved a Wayne Rooney header, thwarted Rashford and saved well from Jesse Lingard as Palace sat back with minds focused on their own FA Cup last four tie with Watford.

Rooney went close when he lashed wide with the aid of a deflection, but despite that miss the Reds kicked on after the break and had soon doubled their advantage.

The goal came from the left foot of an unlikely source, as man of the match Darmian latched on to Delaney's headed clearance to chest the ball down and rifle in a sumptuous volley - via a post - for his first United strike. 

Lingard and Rashford both forced smart stops from Speroni in quick succession before the pair were replaced- possibly with Wembley in mind- with Memphis and Ander Herrera introduced.

That proved to be the last action of a far from classic encounter- Palace offered nothing and David de Gea was never tested- but it was a deserved and important win in the race for the top four. 

Overall team performance: 7.5/10
United Faithful Man of the Match: Matteo Darmian. Created the first and scored his first United goal with a screamer. Impressive. 

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