5 March 2018
Nemanja Matic scored a stunning stoppage-time winner as Man United came from 2-0 down against Crystal Palace to go back to second in the Premier League table.
Palace were much better in the first half, as they were quicker and hungrier to the ball, with United too lethargic. It was no surprise when they took the lead in the 11th minute.
It was Andros Townsend who got the goal, with his strike deflecting off Victor Lindelof into the back of the net. Lindelof turned his back on the shot which you cannot do and it ended up cannoning off him into the net.
United were sloppy throughout the first half, with Alexis Sanchez and Paul Pogba giving the ball away a lot of times. United struggled to create anything as the hosts were simply better.
Palace doubled the lead in the 48th minute through Patrick Van Aanholt. After Christian Benteke was fouled, Jeffrey Schlupp took the free-kick quickly by playing Van Aanholt through and he finished past David de Gea. United were caught off guard and Palace took advantage.
This gave Palace hope of a first ever Premier League win over United. But, in the 55th minute Chris Smalling pulled a goal back. After a corner had been cleared, Antonio Valencia crossed the ball back into the box and Smalling was free to head in. From then on the momentum changed in United’s favour.
Matic came very close to equalising with about fifteen minutes left to play, as his close-range effort following a corner was blocked off the line by Christian Benteke.
But, in the 76th minute United did equalise through Romelu Lukaku. After Sanchez’s shot was blocked onto the bar, the ball fell to Lukaku who took his time before firing into the bottom corner.
Just after the goal, de Gea proved once again why he is by far the best goalkeeper in the league with another wonder save, this time denying Benteke’s header.
It was looking like United would remain behind Liverpool in the table by dropping two points as they failed to break down Palace who were resolute in defence.
But, in stoppage time at the end of the game, the ball fell to Matic 25 yards from goal. It looked highly unlikely that he’d be able to score from there, but he hit a fantastic shot which went into the corner past Wayne Hennessy to break Palace hearts but it was a relief for United.
United move a point above Liverpool into second place, while Palace, who would’ve climbed to 13th with a win, remain 18th.
Next up for United is a big game against Liverpool next Saturday, the 10 March. Liverpool are in very good form so it’s going to be a tough game. We have to play better than we did against Palace.