Manchester United were denied their sixth consecutive win in the Premier League as Crystal Palace held them to a 1-1 draw at the Selhurst Park Stadium on Wednesday (19 January).
Bruno Fernandes gave the Red Devils the lead in the first half but Michael Olise’s injury-time free-kick kept Erik ten Hag’s side from stealing three points away from their trip. The point, however, was still enough to take Manchester United to third place in the Premier League standings, a point clear of fourth-placed Newcastle United.
The Red Devils enjoyed much of the ball in the opening exchanges, but their first goalscoring opportunity did not arrive until the 23rd minute. Thanks to Palace's sloppy defensive work, Brazilian winger Antony got the ball on the right edge of the penalty area. Palace goalkeeper Vicente Guaita was out of position, encouraging Antony to go for a chip. His effort was neat, but the execution was lacking, with it landing just wide of the Palace goal.
In the 31st minute, Luke Shaw swung in a teasing cross into the area for new signing Wout Weghorst. The centre-forward made contact with his head but could not keep his effort on target.
Untroubled until that point, David De Gea was called into action spectacularly in the 40th minute. Palace striker Odsonne Edouard went for goal with a thunderous drive from outside the box. De Gea stretched every fiber in his body to tip the shot onto the crossbar and behind for a corner.
The deadlock was broken three minutes later by Manchester United, with skipper Fernandes applying a convincing finish to Christian Eriksen’s cutback. Having scored the go-ahead goal, United dragged down the tempo of the game in the second half. They circulated the ball neatly but did not seem too eager to make Guaita work.
Crystal Palace came close to scoring the equalizer in the 76th minute, with Marc Guehi directing a thumping header at United’s goal. Once again, De Gea came to his team’s rescue, blocking the header from point-blank range.
Palace ultimately got their equalizer through right-midfielder Olise, who scored one of the best goals of the 2022-23 Premier League season from a free-kick. A fair distance from goal, Olise lined up the free-kick on the right side of the area. He went for goal with a searing left-footed strike, hitting the underside of the crossbar before the ball nestled into the back of the net.
Casemiro had the opportunity to win the game for United in the 93rd minute. But the Brazilian, despite being unmarked, shockingly failed to apply the finishing touch a couple of yards from the Palace goal.
Manchester United did not do much wrong in the match against Palace, but also did not do enough to force their case. Here are three Manchester United players who impressed and two who were underwhelming in the clash against Palace on Wednesday night:
Performed: Aaron Wan-Bissaka
United right-back Aaron Wan-Bissaka produced an impressive shift against his former employers on Wednesday. He charged down the right flank every chance he got and was rock-solid at the back as well.
In the 94th minute, Wilfried Zaha spearheaded a Palace counterattack. Wan-Bissaka kept up with the pacey forward all the way before pulling off a perfectly-timed slide tackle to snatch the ball off him. The tackle might have kept Palace from snatching maximum points at Selhurst Park.
Against his old team, Wan-Bissaka played a key pass, attempted four tackles, made two interceptions, won four duels, and delivered two accurate crosses.
Underformed: Marcus Rashford
Marcus Rashford came into the game on the back of a match-winning performance against Manchester City. Palace paid special attention to the man who had scored in his last seven games (across competitions) and neutralized him.
Rashford could not beat defenders in one-on-one duels, he wasn’t allowed to stretch his legs, and only lodged one shot on target. Additionally, he appeared reluctant to pass to his teammates at times, often squandering decent opportunities.
Against Patrick Vieira’s side, the Englishman lost possession 16 times, failed to pull off any of his five attempted dribbles, and lost six of eight ground duels.
Performed: David De Gea
David De Gea did not have to make too many saves against Palace, but he made two huge ones over the course of the night. In the 40th minute, he reacted superbly to keep out Edouard’s outside-the-box attempt. Then, in the 76th minute, he denied Palace an equalizer from point-blank range, keeping Guehi at bay. De Gea could do very little about Olise’s equalizing free-kick in the 91st minute.
Over the course of the night, De Gea made a total of four saves, with two of the strikes coming from inside the box. He also delivered two accurate long balls and completed 20 passes.
Summer recruit Antony is yet to live up to his astronomical billing at Manchester United. The Brazilian has been out of sorts in recent weeks and could not break the cycle against the Eagles. Except for his attempted chip in the first half, Antony never looked like beating the keeper as he lost possession cheaply at times and failed to make use of the overlapping runs Wan-Bissaka was making.
Against Palace, Antony lodged one shot on target, lost all three of his ground duels, failed to pull off his only attempted dribble, and lost possession eight times.
Performed: Bruno Fernandes
Manchester United skipper Bruno Fernandes once again produced the goods for his team, scoring their only goal in a tense clash with Palace. In the 43rd minute, the Portugal superstar latched onto Eriksen’s cutback from the left and delicately placed it down the middle of the Palace goal. He also created multiple goalscoring opportunities and linked up impressively with his teammates.
On Premier League matchday 19, Fernandes played four key passes and created two big chances. He also delivered six accurate long balls, attempted five tackles, performed a clearance and drew two fouls.