Report: United 1 Palace 3
Manchester United’s delayed new Premier League season start ended in huge disappointment as the Reds suffered an Old Trafford defeat by Crystal Palace with the Eagles beating Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side 3-1. For the second year running at Old Trafford, Manchester United were once again left frustrated by Crystal Palace who claimed a 3-1 victory, despite a debut goal for Donny van de Beek.
Our Dutch debutant scored a second-half goal for the Reds, but an early opener from Andros Townsend and a couple, one from the spot in controversial circumstances, from ex-Red Wilfred Zaha meant under-par United suffered a first league defeat since last January.
It was 35 days since the Reds finished the 2019/20 campaign in Cologne against Sevilla in the semi-final of the Europa League. That August European end meant the Reds began this Premier League campaign a week later than the rest. Palace, who beat Southampton 1-0 at home on the opening day last week, were fast out of the blocks and took a seventh-minute lead.
Jeff Schlupp sent a cross in from the left and Townsend arrived at the far post to fire home the opener despite David De Gea just getting a glove on it.
It almost got worse with Victor Lindelof putting De Gea in trouble after 15 minutes with a weak return to his keeper that the Spaniard just about rescued.
Finally shots from Paul Pogba and Scott McTominay after 20 and 22 minutes saw United briefly wake up and cause problems.
Only a long VAR check for a potential penalty on Pogba created some excitement and hope after that. But the spot kick wasn’t given and a Jordan Ayew late pre-interval shot for Palace, saved excellently one-handed by De Gea, meant the visitors went in at half time back in command and the Reds still searching for inspiration.
Half time sub Mason Greenwood had United’s first greatchance of the match on the hour with a header wide at the far post.
Palace continued to be worryingly dangerous on the counter and Zaha had a goal disallowed for offside after 66 minutes.
It outlined the problem the Reds were having as they struggled to create chances but looked vulnerable on the break.
Van de Beek made his United bow when he came on for Pogba on 67 minutes and almost immediately was hoping to be celebrating a goal for Lindelof. The Swede, however, blasted his shot over from a corner.
From almost levelling, Lindelof was at the centre of the controversy that led to the Reds going two behind. Referee Martin Atkinson decided to take a look at the pitchside TV replay and gave a penalty after deeming Ayew's shot had caught Lindelof on the arm. It was unintentional and harsh, but under new rules the Reds were penalised.
Ayew’s penalty was brilliantly saved by De Gea, but VAR stepped in again to demand a retake after deeming our no.1 had come off his line. Zaha took over penalty duties and scored to make it 2-0.
It was a bitter blow but van de Beek gave us hope with a debut goal 10 minutes from time. Our summer buy from Ajax coolly slotted home after Palace messed up in defence and the ball squirted to him.
But a late rescue job was quickly wiped out as former Red Zaha lashed home Palace’s third on 85 minutes to make it a forgettable opening game for United.
The opening day Gallery
Browse the standout images from United's first match of the 2019/20 Premier League season.
United: De Gea; Fosu-Mensah (Ighalo 81), Lindelof, Maguire, Shaw; McTominay, Pogba (van de Beek 67), James (Greenwood 45); Fernandes, Rashford, Martial.
Subs not used: Henderson, Wan-Bissaka, Bailly, Fred.
Goal: van de Beek 80
Booked: Fosu-Mensah, Maguire
Crystal Palace: Guaita, Ward, Kouyate, Sakho, Mitchell, McArthur, McCarthy (Milivojevicat 88), Schlupp (Eze 75), Townsend, Zaha, Ayew (Batshuayi 81)
Subs not used: Hennessey, Meyer, Kelly, Inniss
Goals: Townsend 7, Zaha (pen) 74, 85
Ole: This is a wake-up callVideo
Ole on the game
“I am very disappointed. I think it shows that we are short. We are short in game-time, fitness, sharpness and we need to improve quickly. These were three points that we wanted and we needed. There are 37 games to go, but this is a wake-up call. But it is also something that we knew we had to face when we went so far into Europe. We had a short preparation time, but that is the reality so there are no excuses.”
Ole on the penalty and VAR
“For me it is not a penalty, it is very harsh. Then it is a great save by David and then a very harsh decision against him. It is probably the right one if you follow the rules, because his foot is probably one inch off the line, with his heel, but who knows what would have happened. That is not the decision that lost us the game.”
Read the full post-match interview with Ole here.