Block G Report: Crystal Palace 0 – 2 Manchester United

By - Sunday 23rd February, 2014

Palace fail to hold struggling reigning champions

They say money makes the world go around. Crystal Palace are hardly paupers these days, having scooped a £120 million prize in last year’s Championship playoff final success. But this is mere loose change to the likes of Manchester United, who reportedly have just awarded Wayne Rooney a contract which has the potential to pay the England striker up to £300,000 per week. Whether or not anyone, or anything is deserving of that is up for debate (answer: no), the Liverpudlian started paying a fraction of that back with a strong performance which culminated in the second and damning goal for the away side.

That is not to say Palace didn’t put in a good performance. There were moments of attacking threat, and what really stood out was the Eagles’ ball retention, which was much better than in previous games. Of course, Palace had the ball much less but it seemed as if when they did have it, most passes found a team mate.

The welcome return of Glenn Murray to the starting lineup contributed to a vociferous atmosphere before kickoff, with an enormous display from the Holmesdale Road stand reading “Together, our spirit is unbreakable.” For the first half, the Palace defence was unbreakable, despite some near misses from the away side.

Marouane Fellaini had perhaps the most clear cut opportunity of the first half when he scooped the ball over the net from mere yards with the goal gaping. Despite this, the bushy haired Belgian was the standout player of the match, breaking up play regularly and providing a threat in attack.

Adnan Januzaj, whose form and potential has been a major factor in ex-Palace man Wilfried Zaha’s loan out to Cardiff City, nearly added the first when he found the back of the net only to see the goal ruled out for handball. Nemanja Vidic had an even easier chance when a corner from Rooney was cleared off the line by Damien Delaney, only to find the defender inches out from goal. The soon to depart Serb contrived to nod over when scoring would have been easier.

For their part, Palace had few chances of note despite a controlled, organised display in the first half.

A slip in concentration gave United the clear cut chance they needed

The second half started much the same as the first, with United looking low on confidence and Palace more than up for the battle. Indeed, it was the Eagles who had an opportunity to take the lead, with Murray’s volley on the turn springing David De Gea into action. On the hour mark however, a slip in concentration gave United the clear cut chance they needed.

Marouane Chamakh, playing the support role in attack, found himself on the edge of the box, where Patrice Evra took a pass from Januzaj. A mistimed challenge bundled the left back over, and whilst contact wasn’t considerable and it was at the very margins of the penalty area – and hence not providing any direct challenge on goal – it was the right decision. Robin van Persie, otherwise anonymous in the game so far, stepped up and finished with relish. The Dutchman nearly added his second later on, as an angled shot clipped the crossbar, but other than that he was kept very quiet.

The second came just over five minutes later, as moneybags Rooney swiped home a powerful shot from Evra’s pass which would barely have registered with Julian Speroni before hitting the back of the net. To all intents and purposes, it was game over with just over twenty minutes left.

Palace kept working, and with the pressure off somewhat probably had their best period of the game, with De Gea being given more of a work out than he had been in the previous seventy minutes. Yet United held out. However, Palace remain in fifteenth, and thanks to other results still sit two points above the relegation zone with a crucial series of tough home games, and slightly less tough away games up ahead.

Crystal Palace: Speroni; Ward, Dann, Delaney, Parr; Ince (Gayle, 85′), Jedinak, Ledley, Puncheon; Chamakh (Bolasie, 74′), Murray (Jerome, 66′).

Manchester United: De Gea; Smalling, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra; Fellaini (Fletcher, 88′), Carrick, Rooney; Mata, Januzaj (Giggs, 80′), van Persie (Valencia, 80′).

Goals: Crystal Palace 0 Manchester United 2 (van Persie 62′ (pen), Rooney 68′).

Referee: M. Oliver

Attendance: 24,571.

Tom Lickley

Tom Lickley

Contributing a variety of roles to the Citizen since early 2013, Tom now focuses upon regeneration, urbanism and real estate writing. He is a strategic communications consultant specialising in the real estate sector, and counts a number of the world's largest investment and fund management companies amongst his clients.

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