After our match report, we assess the finer details of the 2-0 win at Selhurst Park...
The match While United dominated the first half but had nothing to show for it, Palace asserted themselves in the early part of the second only for their hard work to be completely undone by Marouane Chamakh's clumsy challenge on Patrice Evra. The resulting goal from the penalty spot changed the momentum of the match, and although the hosts tested David De Gea a couple of times, Wayne Rooney’s brilliantly executed volley clipped the Eagles' wings for good. Prior to the penalty, United just lacked that crucial cutting edge given all the Reds' possession, which would have become more of a worry had Chamakh's error not stifled Palace’s growing confidence. United ruthlessly exploited the mistake to full effect.
The goals After some high-profile penalty misses in north London in the Champions League on Wednesday, Robin van Persie showed how it should be done south of the river Thames by sending Palace goalkeeper Julian Speroni the wrong way to clinically despatch the ball into the right corner. It was soon followed by Rooney's volley, a masterclass of its own, with technique, balance and power giving the home side's stopper absolutely no chance.
Star men Just 24 hours after his new contract was announced, Rooney demonstrated exactly why he will be so important to the club in the years to come. His dominant, forceful performance set the tempo for the Reds from the off, but van Persie seized the moment when it came to turn the game decisively in his side's favour. Patrice Evra will rarely hit the headlines like Wayne or Robin, but the Frenchman had a hand in both goals, and in defence he dealt with Palace's threat in typically effective fashion.
Sub-plot The match saw Rooney, van Persie, Juan Mata and Adnan Januzaj start a match together for the first time. What kind of formation would utilise this attacking quartet was an intriguing question, one that was answered by Januzaj sticking to the left flank, while Mata had the freedom to roam across the pitch. Chris Smalling had the licence to make several forays down the wing from right-back but did not deliver the telling final ball, while Marouane Fellaini played further forward than he did before a two-month absence.
The opposition Sides managed by Tony Pulis are traditionally disciplined, well-organised and energetic, and Palace were no