The Away Block Report: Manchester United 2 – 0 Crystal Palace

By - Saturday 14th September, 2013

Palace work hard against the champions but decisions go against them

Manchester United  2 (Van Persie 45′ (pen), Rooney ’81)

Crystal Palace  0

Photo by Deborah Jahani. Image used under Creative Commons License.

With the trip to Old Trafford always earmarked as perhaps the toughest match of the season, Palace will be proud of the performance they put in at the home of the champions. With United surprisingly including Wayne Rooney in their lineup, the signs were ominous.

However, for forty-four minutes Palace soaked the up the inevitable pressure put on them by the home team, with two penalty shouts early on in the first half rightly waved away by referee Jonathan Moss; Evra fell too easily for the first and Young showing a sad indication of modern football in diving for the second – rightly, he was booked. Towards the end of the half however, Palace grew more into the game, and both sides had clear cut chances to open the scoring. First, Rooney picked out Robin Van Persie with a sumptuous ball which the Dutchman smacked against the bar. Then Palace had a great chance; Dwight Gayle getting in behind, then outpacing former England defender Rio Ferdinand. With just the goalkeeper to beat, but with a tight angle, Gayle chipped the ball just wide.

However, controversy struck at the end of the first half. Jedinak gave the ball away sloppily in midfield, and the ball raced to Young. Dikgacoi made the challenge on the edge of the box – and, unbelievably, the referee pointed to a penalty. Worse was to come as Dikgacoi was sent off. With the challenge, and ball, clearly outside the box, and Young again falling far too easily despite some contact, the Palace fans had every right to be dismayed as Van Persie stepped up to slot the ball home from the spot. At the break, Palace went in a man and a goal down.

Palace restricted the United goals to set plays, with the defence well marshalled

Dikgacoi was sent off on the stroke of half time for the Eagles. Photo by Tom Brogan. Image used under Creative Commons License.

Palace again impressed in the second half, maintaining the ball for long periods and causing some discomfort for United in front of the 75,000 strong crowd. Certainly, they did not look out of place, particularly considering they were only playing with ten men. The home team had few clear cut chances, despite a goalmouth scramble. It wasn’t until the final ten minutes that Palace conceded again; Rooney, for so long this summer an outcast at United, stepped up to curl in a free kick – an excellent goal.

A frustrating result for the Eagles, particularly given the context of the controversial incident on half time. However, as the Citizen said in our preview, little was expected from the game and anything gained would have been a bonus. And there were bonuses, in terms of performance if not the result; Jedinak again looked excellent, although his performance was tainted somewhat having given the ball away preceding the penalty. Gayle, too, looked sharp and his pace caused problems at times for the home team, although he tired in the second half. New signings Mariappa, Jerome, Guediora and Kebe also acquitted themselves well. Perhaps most promisingly, Palace restricted the United goals to set plays, with the defence well marshalled by Delaney and Gabbidon throughout.

With Swansea and Southampton (away) up next for the Eagles, there will be considerably more realistic chances to put goals and points on the board then there were in this game. Nonetheless, the Palace staff and fans can take courage and inspiration from this display, as they have been able to from all matches so far. It has become a cliche, but the Palace fans were once again excellent, and drowned out the vast numbers of Manchester United fans for the entirety of the contest.

Manchester United: De Gea; Fabio, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra; Valencia, Anderson (Fellaini, ’62), Carrick, Young (Januzaj, 67′); Rooney; Van Persie (Hernandez, ’79).

Crystal Palace: Speroni; Mariappa, Gabbidon, Delaney, Moxey; Jedinak, Dikgacoi (Sent off, ’44), Campana (Guediora, ’59); Puncheon, Gayle (Jerome, ’64), Chamakh (Kebe, ’75).

Attendance: 75,102

Referee: J. Moss

The Palace Away Fan

The Palace Away Fan

Following Palace over land and sea, The Away Fan is 100% committed to the cause. Often seen catching a train on a rainy Saturday, the Away Fan rarely returns home without a thousand stories to tell. Visiting exotic locations such as Stoke, Hull and Sunderland, this intrepid traveller is the authority on Crystal Palace performances away from SE25.

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