Manchester United claimed a hard fought 2-1 victory over Crystal Palace to win the FA Cup for a historic 12th time. Puncheon’s opener seemed to have handed Crystal Palace the victory but Mata's equaliser and Lingard’s stunning late goal in extra time handed 10-man Manchester United a wonderful victory
Manchester United: De Gea; Valencia, Smalling, Blind, Rojo; Carrick, Fellaini, Mata; Rooney, Martial, Rashford.
Crystal Palace: Hennessey; Ward, Dann, Delaney, Souare; Zaha, Cabaye, McArthur, Jedinak, Bolasie; Wickham.
First Half – Manchester United dominate possession while Crystal Palace look dangerous on the counter-attack
There was a stunning atmosphere at Wembley before kick off with both sets of fans playing their part in encouraging their respective teams. Manchester United started brightly in the first half with Wayne Rooney bossing things in midfield. There was a strong claim for a penalty for Delany's swipe on Marcus Rashford, but it was waved away by Mark Clattenburg. The first 15 minutes saw United create plenty of openings but the final finish or pass just kept narrowly going astray.
The game’s first moment of controversy came when referee Mark Clattenburg instead of playing advantage for Crystal Palace’s Connor Wickham chose to call back play and yellow card Chris Smalling instead. The resulting free-kick almost resulted in an own goal, but David De Gea was alert as always to deny Palace. Juan Mata arguably had the best chance of the half in the 22nd minute, but his shot was saved brilliantly by Wayne Hennessey.
Manchester United dominated possession and created many openings most notably in the 33rd minute when Rashford’s brilliant run set up Anthony Martial whose goal-bound shot was blocked brilliantly by Ward. Crystal Palace threatened soon after with Daley Blind’s error almost setting up former United player Zaha clean through on goal. However, some brilliant backtracking by Manchester United captain Wayne Rooney kept the score at 0-0.
The first half ended with two more Manchester United players, Marcus Rojo and Juan Mata being booked for silly fouls. Both teams went into the break believing that they would be crowned as the next FA Cup finals. Although United dominated possession, Palace themselves looked capable of grabbing a goal.
Second Half – Puncheon and Mata score to take the game into extra time
The second half started off with Crystal Palace threatening but after the initial 2-3 minutes, United started dominating the game. Fellaini almost scored an amazing opening goal when Rashford's brilliant flick set up the Belgian, however, Fellaini’s powerful shot thudded back of the crossbar and Palace were lucky to survive.
With 60 minutes on the clock, United had another great chance. Valencia sent in a wonderful cross to Martial whose header hit the post. It seemed like one of those days for Manchester United as the ball refused to go in. Injuries to Rashford and Rojo forced some changes from Van Gaal who bought on Ashley Young and Darmian to replace the duo.
After 15 minutes of relative inactivity, Palace had their moment in the sun when Jason Puncheon who was brought on as a replacement for Yohan Cabaye scored a wonderful goal from a tight angle. A long ball was floated to Puncheon on the left far post and he controlled well and volleyed into the near post with De Gea undone by the power of the shot.
Manchester United, however, did not take long to respond as Wayne Rooney's brilliant run set up Mata who smashed home the equaliser. Rooney's fantastic run eventually ended in a cross to Fellaini who chested the ball to Mata to crash home a volley through Ward’s legs and equalise for United.
Both teams had some half chances to grab a last minute equaliser, but the finals inevitably headed to extra time.
Extra Time – Lingard's stunner wins the FA Cup for 10 man Manchester United
First Half – The first half of extra time was similar to the first half of the game with both sides creating some good chances but not taking them. United slightly shaded this half but they suffered a huge blow at the end of the 15 minute period when Smalling was sent off for a cynical foul on Bolasie. Smalling who was already booked got a second yellow and left United a man down for 15 minutes.
Second Half – Crystal Palace predictably started on the front foot and Dwight Gayle should have arguably put them ahead but a stunning save from De Gea prevented Palace from taking the lead. 10 man Manchester United suddenly sprang into life and Lingard who came on for Mata late in the second half struck a thunderous shot which left Henessey with no chance.
Crystal Palace failed to create anything of note in the remaining few minutes as United held on to clinch a record equalling 12th FA Cup.