Manchester United suffered a disappointing 0-0 Old Trafford draw to drop our first home points since September,against Crystal Palace.
Jose Mourinho's side were looking to bounce back following the Manchester derby defeat to City but dropped further behind in a bid to make the top four by the New Year.
Pre-match suggestions were that Palace could be a fragile opponent with Roy Hodgson’s side having not won at all in their last seven matches, with only a draw in the middle of a dreadful sequence. However, after a bright opening by United, the visitors quickly started to look a confident bunch
Ex-Red Wilfried Zaha is the Eagles' main man and was heavily involved in building their confidence. He zipped a shot just wide in the 20th minute and was part of a rapid breakaway in the 25th minute that caught United cold. Only a miscued shot from Patrick van Aanholt saved the Reds from going behind.
Palace had clearly identified the lively Jesse Lingard as a danger and he was clattered twice by Luka Milivojevic and Mamadou Sakho before the half-hour with both the Palace players getting booked for their cynical work.
Lingard, though, was involved in United’s best response after 29 minutes when the Reds finally tested keeper Wayne Hennessey. The England player saw his side-foot effort stopped, he immediately chased the loose ball and set up Anthony Martial for a header. However, Hennessey was on the spot again.
There was an almighty scare for United two minutes before half-time when it looked in real time like Palace had taken a shock lead. Cheikhou Kouyate and Victor Lindelof both appeared to get a glance on Milivojevic’s free kick but, as the Palace player ran away celebrating, he was confronted by the referee’s assistant flagging for offside.
It was a very close call and could have gone either way.
United felt the same pain that Palace had suffered when also having a goal disallowed in front of the Stretford End after 57 minutes.
Ashley Young, vocally encouraged by the crowd, delivered a stinging shot that Hennessey could only parry into open space. Romelu Lukaku reacted to follow up and tap home, but the Belgian striker was judged to be marginally offside.
Once again, it was an extremely tight and dubious judgment and United could feel as aggrieved as their visitors had done that the scoreline remained at 0-0.
Manager Mourinho had seen enough and played his first two cards from the bench. The Reds boss brought on Marouane Fellaini and Marcus Rashford for Lingard and Juan Mata to add height, power and pace to United’s game plan.
The manager brought on his final sub in the 68th minute with another attacking move, throwing Alexis Sanchez into the mix and taking Paul Pogba off.
United were let off the hook in the 74th minute by Andros Townsend. The former England winger somehow muscled, tricked and fortuitously forced his way through United’s defensive ranks into a one-versus-one with David De Gea. The Reds keeper didn’t need to intervene as Townsend screwed his golden chance wide.
Lukaku almost provided the breakthrough goal with seven minutes of normal time to go. His header came close to creeping home but goalkeeper Hennessey lunged to his left to touch the ball around for a corner.
When the fourth official put up four added minutes at the end of the 90, Old Trafford braced itself for a potential typical United late, late show but sadly the Reds couldn't muster up a winning finale.
United: De Gea, Darmian, Smalling, Lindelof, Young (C), Matic, Pogba (Alexis 68), Mata (Rashford 59) Lingard (Fellaini 59), Martial, Lukaku
Subs not used: Grant, Jones, Valencia, Fred.
Crystal Palace: Hennessey, Van Aanholt, Milivojevic (C), Tomkins, Meyer, Kouyate, Townsend (Schlupp 87), Zaha (Ayew 90), Sakho, McArthur, Wan-Bissaka
Subs not used: Guaita, Ward, Kelly, Puncheon, Sorloth.
Bookings: Milivojevic, Sakho
Referee: Lee Mason
Attendance: 74,516Reading this in our app? If not, you might miss some exclusive features not found on ManUtd.com. Download the Official App here.