Nemanja Matic pulled out a last gasp wonder-goal to give Manchester United three points in the dying seconds of a thrilling Premier League clash.
It was a stunning comeback for Manchester United who were 2-0 down to Roy Hodgson’s struggling Palace.
Stunning because Nemanja Matic became match hero with his brilliant stoppage time strike. It was remarkable because Jose Mourinho simply went for it.
The enraged United manager threw on more attacking players as his side chased relegation fighters Crystal Palace. Roy Hodgson’s Eagles could have been forgiven for thinking they had survived a relegation spot.
Where Eagles Dared
At that point of the game, if they would have just held on, Palace could have risen to thirteenth place. Instead, their players slumped to the ground at the final whistle, a possibly epic victory having quickly turned to bitter disappointment. Scenes more reminiscent of a losing FA Final side, following a dream start.
Mourinho deserves credit for the result which re-instated his side to second spot behind leaders City. More importantly, he’s opened up a nine point lead over former club Chelsea, who lie in fifth place.
With nine games left to play in the Premier League, it’s a formidable advantage in the merciless charge for Champions League football. Mourinho recognized his teams vigorous comeback, but also their luck. The Red Devils had played poorly for the first hour of the game.
De Gea saves the day
It showed once again the inconsistency they can display, even in victory. David De Gea once again making a world class save late in the second half, sparing Mournho’s further blushes.
It was, however, the first game in four years that Unitedhad come back from 2-0 down. Proving that Mourinho has a tough task eeking the best out of his two star players.
The evening’s game showed things were’t going so well for Paul Pogba or Alexis Sanchez. Pogba made mistake after mistake and failed to have any impact. Sanchez continues to look unsure of his place on the field. He was, quite literally, all over the place.
The first goal came when Andros Townsend fired a strong left footed shot passed De Gea.
It was unfortunate for United, showing that off form Pogba had not tracked Townsend prior to the goal. Before that though, Wayne Hennessey had saved Jesse Lingard’s header, the ball striking him hard in the face. Immediately following Townsend’s goal, it seemed the game would continue to slip away from United.
United boss Jose Mourinho slumped down in his seat. His rage and frustration obvious. United were out-classed and out-played during the first forty-five minutes.
No way! Says José
He reportedly tore into his players at half time. He decided to trade Scott McTominay for Marcus Rashford. This was a smart move, as he widened the field, thus creating more chances for United.
However, before the change could take effect, the Eagles swooped again. A smart move by Palace, catching United off guard by rushing a free kick. Selhurst Park erupted into noise. Albeit short-lived.
Had they been able to hold on long enough they could have been celebrating a momentous victory. However, things quickly changed when United caught their first break. Smalling was able to head one past Hennessey connecting with an aesthetic cross that came in from Antonio Valencia.
That play would then change the dynamic of the game. United had time, and reinforcements. By adding Juan Mata and Luke Shaw, Mourinho formed a more aggressive attacking power. Exactly what United needed to gain the upper hand.
An Enig-Matic finish
Still, they needed a slice of luck, which arrived when Martin Kelly threw himself to block a Sanchez shot. The ball rebounded off a post, only to find a lurking Lukaku. The former Everton striker calmly placed a low shot past ‘keeper Hennessey.
Minutes later Palace rallied back, only De Gea denying Benteke’s strong on-target header. Then in stoppage time, Matic netted his first goal for Manchester United.
He struck the ball beautifully, angling it perfectly, leaving no space for Hennessey to make a save.
Just like that it was over. United had their win. However it was a rough day for Palace. Few would argue the final result was nothing short of cruel for the struggling Eagles.