Premier League, Selhurst Park - Crystal Palace 0 Manchester United 2 (Van Persie 62’ Rooney 68’)
Manchester United were relieved to get back to winning ways with a 2-0 victory at Crystal Palace, as Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie found the net.
The first half was an entertainment vacuum. Palace were organised in defence, and stuck to counter-attacks that rarely troubled United. United, one-paced in attack, wasted the few chances they created.
Palace went closest when Jonathan Parr’s shot was deflected to the near post, David de Gea diving smartly to his right to save.
United grew stronger as the half went on, but demonstrably lacked confidence. Rooney had a shot from distance that went straight to Julian Speroni, and dragged an injury-time free-kick wide of goal. Earlier, he had a cross cleared off the line by Damien Delaney.
Marouane Fellaini had United’s best chance of the half, when Van Persie’s pullback ran to him in space, but his shot from 15 yards was embarrassingly wide.
The second half dragged until Marouane Chamakh fouled Patrice Evra on the hour, bursting forward to meet Adnan Januzaj’s pass inside: United had a penalty. Van Persie calmly stepped up and converted the spot-kick.
Seven minutes later, Rooney hit a volley into the top corner from Evra’s cross. A minute later, Van Persie hit the bar. United will be relieved to finally win a game.
Robin van Persie of Manchester United attempts an overhead kick on goal (Getty Images)
Image credit: Getty Images
PRE-MATCH - David Moyes appears to embrace fun, starting Adnan Januzaj, Wayne Rooney, Marouane Fellaini, Juan Mata and Robin van Persie together for the first time.
26’ - OFF THE LINE - Rooney sends in a cross after his corner is mishit by Van Persie. It’s headed off the line by Delaney, and Vidic sends his effort over the bar.
28’ - DE GEA SAVE - Tom Ince’s clipped ball forward is headed up into the air and Parr’s shot is deflected to the near corner of De Gea’s goal, but the ‘keeper is down quickly to save.
43’ - FELLAINI MISS - Having started the move, Fellaini blasts his shot from 15 yards well wide of goal.
62’ - VAN PERSIE GOAL - Evra sprints forward to get to Januzaj’s pass on the edge of the box, and Chamakh clumsily trips him. Van Persie dispatches the penalty with much-needed confidence.
67’ - JEROME SHOT - Cameron Jerome curls a shot towards the bottom corner that De Gea does brilliantly to tip away.
68’ - ROONEY SCORES - Evra gets to the byline, pulls the ball back to Rooney, who watches it take one bounce and slams a volley into the top corner.
70’ - VAN PERSIE HITS THE BAR - Running onto a through-ball the Dutch striker strikes a shot against the crossbar.
90+1’ - LATE DANN CHANCE - Scott Dann glances a header just wide, but it’s too little, too late.
Manchester United have won 11 and lost none of their last 13 league meetings with Crystal Palace.
David Moyes has not named the same starting XI in any two competitive games this season, with this being his 40th match in charge of the Red Devils.
Only bottom side Fulham (18) have lost more Premier League games than Crystal Palace (16) this season.
Is this enough to change United’s season? The transformation in spirit when Rooney hit the second goal was clear to all, and it might be that this victory gives United the chance to finally build some momentum as the season draws to a close.
Patrice Evra (Manchester United): Under less pressure to defend than he has been recently, Evra played to his attacking strengths and was instrumental in both goals, winning the penalty for Van Persie and crossing for Rooney.
Crystal Palace's Jason Puncheon and Manchester United's Wayne Rooney (PA Photos)