Man Utd 1 Crystal Palace 0

Juan Mata

Man­chester Uni­ted 1 Crys­tal Pal­ace 0, Old Traf­ford, Eng­lish Pre­mier Lea­gue, Nov­ember 8, 2014. Louis van Gaal was left beam­ing as sec­ond ha­lf sub­sti­tute Ju­an Ma­ta hit the win­ner for Man­chester Uni­ted in a 1-0 ho­me tri­umph over Crys­tal Pal­ace. Ma­ta fou­nd the net in the 67th min­ute of the mat­ch when he ham­mered ho­me an un­stoppable left-foot shot.

Af­ter los­ing by 1-0 ag­ainst neigh­bours Man­chester City in a closely con­tested Pre­mier Lea­gue der­by battle at Eti­had Sta­dium the pre­vi­ous week­end, Louis van Gaal´s men played hosts to Crys­tal Pal­ace, who for their part had suf­fered a 3-1 de­feat at the hands of Sun­der­land at their Sel­hurst Park ho­me in their last Pre­miership fix­ture. In the cor­res­pond­ing Pre­mier Lea­gue meet­ing of the 2013-14 sea­son on the 14th of Septem­ber 2013, Man­chester Uni­ted had ma­naged to over­come the So­uth Lon­doners by a com­fort­able 2-0 mar­gin at Old Traf­ford cour­tesy of a goal each from for­wards Robin van Per­sie and Way­ne Roo­ney in the 45th and 81st min­utes of the con­test re­spect­ively. Uni­ted had won three, drawn four, and lost three of their open­ing ten Pre­miership ga­mes of the 2014-15 cam­paign, where­as the Croy­don te­am had won two, drawn three, and lost five of their Pre­mier Lea­gue fix­tures so far. Man­chester Uni­ted were mis­sing sev­er­al key play­ers for the clash wi­th Crys­tal Pal­ace, how­ever, in­clud­ing Ra­damel Fal­cao, Phil Jones, Mar­cos Rojo, and Ra­fael da Silva, who were all out be­cause of vari­ous in­jur­ies, whi­le Chris Small­ing fou­nd him­self sus­pen­ded for the ga­me af­ter be­ing on the re­ceiv­ing end of two yel­low cards for mind­less and un­ne­ces­sary chal­lenges on Man­chester City´s Joe Hart and Ja­mes Mil­ner dur­ing the fir­st ha­lf of The Man­chester Der­by. As for Crys­tal Pal­ace, Sel­hurst Park boss Neil War­nock had to man­age with­out the ser­vices of Mile Jed­inak, Stu­art O’­Keefe, and Wil­fried Za­ha, who were all side­lined wi­th dif­fer­ent in­jury prob­lems, but Dami­en Delaney was fi­nally re­turn­ing to mat­ch ac­tion again.

Crys­tal Pal­ace had yet to de­feat Man­chester Uni­ted in the Pre­mier Lea­gue and the Old Traf­ford men were heavy fa­vour­ites to emerge vic­tori­ous from the clash wi­th the So­uth Lon­doners des­pite their lack of form. Uni­ted near­ly put their noses in front af­ter just a couple of min­utes thro­ugh Bel­gian in­ter­na­tion­al wing­er Ad­nan Janu­zaj who fired a power­ful shot from out­side the eight­een-yard box, on­ly to see his ef­fort go in­ches over the cross­bar. Man­chester Uni­ted con­tin­ued to launch at­tacks and had a string of qual­ity chances as the fir­st pe­riod pro­gressed, but the hosts failed to find the net be­fore the break. Fol­low­ing the ha­lf-time re­fresh­ments, Roo­ney and Mar­ou­ane Fel­laini bo­th went clo­se with­out scor­ing, but mid­way thro­ugh the sec­ond frame Ju­an Ma­ta emer­ged from the dark ob­scur­ity of the sub­stitutes´ bench to notch up the win­ning and on­ly goal of the tie as the Span­iard power­ed a fe­ro­cious ef­fort from out­side the pen­alty area pa­st away shot stop­per Ju­li­an Sp­er­oni and in­to the net sev­en min­utes pa­st the hour ma­rk, and wi­th on­ly sev­en min­utes left of nor­mal time the for­mer Stam­ford Bridge ace came clo­se to net­ting ag­ain when his late shot hit the ver­tic­al post.

The nar­row ho­me win over Crys­tal Pal­ace was Man­chester United’s fir­st vic­tory in four Pre­miership mat­ches, and Van Gaal told the wait­ing press fol­low­ing the tussle wi­th The Eagles that he was well pleased wi­th the per­form­ance of his play­ers. Af­ter beat­ing Pal­ace, Uni­ted now fou­nd them­selves sit­ting sev­enth in the Pre­mier Lea­gue ta­ble wi­th six­teen points from el­ev­en ga­mes played so far, one point adrift of sixth pla­ced Ar­senal, and two points short of Swansea City in fifth po­s­i­tion. Jose Mourinho´s Chel­sea re­mained ta­ble top­pers, how­ever, wi­th an im­press­ive twenty-nine points, four points ahead of sec­ond po­si­tioned South­ampton. Man­chester Uni­ted Te­am: Da­vid de Gea, Lu­ke Shaw, Pad­dy McNair, Mi­chael Car­rick, An­tonio Va­lencia, Mar­ou­ane Fel­laini, An­gel Di Mar­ia, Da­ley Bli­nd, Ad­nan Janu­zaj, Robin van Per­sie, Way­ne Roo­ney. Sub­stitutes: Mar­nick Vermijl, An­der Her­rera, Tyler Black­ett, Dar­ren Fletch­er, Ju­an Ma­ta, Ja­mes Wil­son, An­ders Linde­gaard. Crys­tal Pal­ace Te­am: Ju­li­an Sp­er­oni, Joel Wa­rd, Scott Dann, Ad­ri­an Mari­appa, Dami­en Delaney, Ja­mes McAr­thur, Joe Led­ley, Ja­son Puncheon, Yan­nick Bolasie, Fra­izer Camp­bell, Mar­ou­ane Cha­makh. Sub­stitutes: Kev­in Doyle, Ezekiel Fry­ers, Mar­tin Kel­ly, Pad­dy Mc­Carthy, Bar­ry Ban­nan, Dwight Gayle, Way­ne Hennessey.

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