Crystal Palace stun Man United
Wilfried Zaha scored twice against his former club as Crystal Palace condemned Manchester United to a miserable start to their Premier League campaign with victory at Old Trafford.
After Andros Townsend squeezed a seventh-minute shot into the far corner from Jeffrey Schlupp’s cross, the hosts struggled badly but the game slipped away from them thanks to Zaha’s controversial 74th-minute penalty.
Referee Martin Atkinson used the VAR TV monitor to decide Victor Lindelof had handled inside his own box. But, after David de Gea saved Jordan Ayew’s spot-kick, Atkinson ordered a retake because the Spain international had moved off his line. Zaha took responsibility for the second attempt and made no mistake.
On his debut, Donny van de Beek pulled one back 10 minutes from time but Zaha struck again against his former club to secure a deserved victory for Palace.
It was their biggest ever win at Old Trafford, the first time they have beaten United away from home in successive seasons and means Palace have won their opening two games of a top flight season for the first time in their history.
For United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, it was a horrible day. Too many of his players were off the pace, including Paul Pogba, who was replaced by Van de Beek midway through the second half.
Veteran boss, youthful team
Palace’s 73-year-old boss Roy Hodgson is just five years younger than Sir Alex Ferguson, who watched this game from the directors’ box.
Ferguson must have been impressed with the youthful exuberance of the Palace side. Despite conceding possession, they were by far the most inventive and gave central defensive pair Harry Maguire and Lindelof a torrid time.
Lindelof was shrugged away far too easily by Schlupp in the build-up to Townsend’s goal and Ayew would have had a second for Palace before the break had it not been for De Gea’s brilliant one-handed save.
That it should be Zaha whose contribution eventually proved decisive was a further painful memory for United.
Zaha was Ferguson’s last signing as United boss. But the Ivory Coast international never settled at Old Trafford and was sold back to Palace in 2015.
After ending last season with a whimper, Palace could not have done better over the past fortnight and face an intriguing meeting with Everton, who have also won their opening two games, at Selhurst Park next weekend.
Where now for United?
In his programme notes, United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward spoke about the impact the coronavirus pandemic is having on football’s finances.
This argument is wearing a little thin with United supporters, who have seen rivals sign players for big money while United hit a brick wall in their attempt to sign Jadon Sancho from Borussia Dortmund.
None of those criticisms will be silenced by this dismal fare.
Despite being given an extra week off because of their European exploits, United were flat. The spark that player of the year Bruno Fernandes brought to the United side in January was missing. Pogba was poor and guilty of too many unforced errors.
United’s defence struggled badly, with Maguire and Lindelof out of position far too often, and they have now conceded first in four successive home league games.
Their best chance until Van de Beek’s goal was a far-post Mason Greenwood header which the striker sent disappointingly wide.
On this evidence, it is hard to see United matching last season’s third-place finish without further additions to Solskjaer’s squad. – bbc.com