Manchester United 2 Crystal Palace 1
Manchester United earned an important 2-1 win against a stubborn Crystal Palace at Old Trafford in the Premier League.
Bruno Fernandes netted the opener with a first-half strike from the penalty spot, before Marcus Rashford made it 2-0 early in the second.
A match dominated by United threatened to be turned on its head minutes later though, when Casemiro was shown a red card following a melee involving multiple players.
The one-man advantage helped the visitors to pull a goal back through Jeffrey Schlupp, but the Reds held on during a frantic end to the match to claim all three points.
FIRST HALF – FERNANDES FIRES REDS IN FRONT
Prior to kick-off there were poignant scenes around Old Trafford as the club marked our closest home match to the 65th anniversary of the Munich Air Disaster. Flags at the ground were flying at half-mast as the families of those who lost their lives in the tragedy watched both Erik ten Hag and Patrick Viera lay floral tributes, before the entire stadium observed a minute's silence.
The manager had called on the players to draw inspiration from the Busby Babes and a fast-starting United netted our quickest Premier League goal of the season. It came in dramatic circumstances when Marcus Rashford’s cross hit the raised arm of Will Hughes in the penalty area.
Referee Andre Marriner initially waved away the protests from the Reds, but following a lengthy VAR check he was encouraged to view the pitch-side monitor and after doing so he amended his decision. Stepping up to take the spot-kick, Bruno Fernandes coolly sent Palace keeper Vicente Guaita the wrong way, striking the ball into the bottom left corner.
It was a first 45 dominated by the Reds and the lead might have been doubled when Wout Weghorst flicked a looping header towards the back post, but Guaita flung himself across goal to turn it away. Despite the commanding position, United weren’t able to add to the scoresheet before the interval and a Jeffrey Schlupp effort provided a warning of what can happen when a second goal isn't found - as we learned to our cost in the reverse fixture. On this occasion, David De Gea was able to keep out the attempt.
SECOND HALF – TEN MEN WIN THE BATTLE
Ten minutes after the resumption, Rashford forged a good effort as he cut inside, dropping his shoulder to beat two players and curl the ball towards goal – however his strike was over the bar.
In a bid to provide some additional spark, Erik ten Hag introduced Alejandro Garnacho on the hour mark and two minutes later he was involved in our second goal of the afternoon. The 18-year-old touched the ball off to Luke Shaw, who fizzed a low pin-point cross to Rashford, who diverted it into the net.
On 65 minutes a dramatic flashpoint eventually led to United being reduced to 10 men, when Antony was barraged off the pitch by Schlupp. A melee ensued and the pair were both shown a yellow card, but a VAR review of the incident again influenced the referee, who then sent off Casemiro for handling Hughes round the neck.
The Eagles had been fairly benign to that point in the game, but the balance of play swung in their favour with the extra player and they pulled a goal back when a flurry of set-pieces led to Schlupp turning in Cheick Doucoure’s miscued strike.
A number of substitutions followed in a bid to keep the lead, including a debut for loan signing Marcel Sabitzer. The Austrian put in a lively performance in difficult circumstances, as United shut out the visitors for the remainder of normal time and seven additional minutes.
United: De Gea; Wan-Bissaka (Lindelof 87), Varane, Martinez, Shaw; Casemiro, Fred; Antony (Sabitzer 81), Fernandes (c), Rashford; Weghorst (Garnacho 60 (Maguire 87)).
Subs not used: Heaton, Malacia, Dalot, Sancho, Mainoo.
Goals: Fernandes penalty 7, Rashford 62.
Sent off: Casemiro.
Crystal Palace: Guaita; Clyne, Guehi, Richards, Mitchell; Doucoure (Ahamada 82), Hughes (Lokonga 72); Schlupp (Mateta 83), Olise, Edouard; Ayew (Eze 73).
Subs not used: Johnstone, Whitworth, Tomkins, Milivojevic, Riedewald.
Goal: Schlupp 76.
Booked: Mitchell, Schlupp.
Without the fans cheering us over the line today, this victory isn't possible. We appreciate every single one of you! 👉🏾🙎🏾♂️ pic.twitter.com/Alb3AJQPBm— Marcus Rashford (@MarcusRashford) February 4, 2023
Massive effort from everyone 👏🏼 hunger for more 💪🏼 pic.twitter.com/F8oshK29Mg— Bruno Fernandes (@B_Fernandes8) February 4, 2023
Big battle today !! Old Trafford you helped us get across the line 😍 pic.twitter.com/rNhb97s7J8— Raphaël Varane (@raphaelvarane) February 4, 2023