Crystal Palace 1 Manchester United 0
Manchester United were beaten 1-0 by Crystal Palace on the final day of the Premier League season.
Wilfried Zaha netted the only goal of the game at Selhurst Park, which saw Ralf Rangnick’s final match as interim manager end in defeat.
Despite the result, the Reds secured Europa League football with a sixth-placed finish as Erik ten Hag watched from the stands ahead of his official unveiling.
FIRST HALF – ZAHA STRIKES
The Reds kicked off in sunny South London, and made a positive start. In the eighth minute, Bruno Fernandes looked to forge an opening as he played in Edinson Cavani – who was making his last outing for United. The Palace defence did enough to stop the shot and, when the ball dropped to Hannibal in the area, who in contrast to Cavani, was making his first senior start for the club, the flag sadly went up for offside.
Shortly before the quarter-of-an-hour mark, Fernandes and Cavani threatened again. Fernandes teed up a strike from range that was deflected and fell kindly to Cavani. The Uruguayan looked to strike himself, but an off-balance Vicente Guaita managed to claw the effort away from the net and deny the Reds an opener.
The match began to open up into an end-to-end affair as the half wore on. A smart United break, spearheaded by Anthony Elanga, saw a chance flash across goal as Fernandes was unable to divert the ball into the net at the far post.
David De Gea was then forced into a couple of smart saves from the Palace left, first from Wilfried Zaha and then Jeffrey Schlupp, but the Spaniard dealt with both efforts comfortably. However, shortly afterwards, Zaha who came out on top as he pounced on a stray Fernandes pass and danced around the edge of the penalty area and picked out the bottom corner for 1-0.
The heat was rising further at Selhurst Park towards the end of the first 45 minutes, as Will Hughes and then Hannibal both went into referee Martin Atkinson’s notebook, as the veteran official took charge of his last task before retirement.
SECOND HALF – UNABLE TO EQUALISE
At the start of the second period, an early chance came United’s way when Cavani was fouled in Palace territory. Lining up to take the free-kick, Fernandes took on the shot from 30 yards – which, while on target, wasn’t able to beat the keeper.
Joel Ward put in an expertly timed tackle to deny Hannibal, after the young Tunisia international found himself in a one-on-one following a perfectly executed run along the line. At the other end, Zaha was continuing to cause problems, dragging a shot wide of the post.
Into the final 30 minutes of the season and the Reds were continuing to search for a leveller. Teenager Hannibal was set up by Fred and tried a shot from outside the area, but Guaita tipped the ball behind and away from danger – with Hannibal substituted for Juan Mata soon afterwards.
It was Mata who created panic at the back for the Eagles when a curling ball towards Fred in the box was cut out by Joachim Andersen, who almost headed the ball into his own net – but it dropped agonisingly over the bar for a corner. The resulting set-play saw Scott McTominay left with a free hear at the back post – but he could only direct his effort right at the keeper.
Inside the final 10 minutes, there were calls for a penalty to United as Cavani appeared to be hauled down in the box – but appeals were waved away and there was no VAR intervention either. As time ticked away, the Reds were unable to breach the Palace defence, despite Elanga flashing a ball across the six-yard box and McTominay shooting high wide in stoppage time, meaning United having to settle for defeat as the curtain came down on the campaign.
United: De Gea; Dalot (Garnacho 80), Lindelof, Maguire (c), Telles; McTominay, Fred (Shoretire 75); Elanga, Hannibal (Mata 62), Bruno; Cavani.
Subs not used: Heaton, Bailly, Fernandez, Jones, Varane, Savage.
Booked: Hannibal, Dalot, Lindelof.
Crystal Palace: Guaita; Mitchell, Ward, Andersen, Clyne; Schlupp, Hughes (McArthur 83), Gallagher; Zaha, Edouard (Eze 79), Rak-Sakyi (Kouyate 67).
Subs not used: Butland, Milivojevic, Ayew, Mateta, Benteke, Kelly.
Goal: Zaha 37.
Booked: Hughes, Edouard.