The game between Crystal Palace and Manchester United was one that had huge importance in the Premier League, at both ends of the table.
The home side needed the three points to climb out of the relegation places while the visitors had slipped down to third but knew victory would see them climb back up into second place, the spot they have been occupying for much of the campaign so far.
Most football fans probably would have expected Mourinho’s men to triumph pretty easily at Selhurst Park, and you probably could say that this mentality had filtered down to the players as they soon found themselves one nil down after Andros Townsend put The Eagles ahead. United looked out of sorts and rather than looking like a team they looked like a group of individuals.
I think most would have imagined Mourinho would have had stern words with his side at the break, while Roy Hodgson in the home dressing room would have been very pleased his team’s performance. United brought on Marcus Rashford at the interval for Scott McTominay, who has just declared he will represent Scotland internationally, to give the side more of a threat in the final third.
Within three minutes of the restart though, Palace managed to remarkably extend their lead through Patrick van Aanholt. It was now that United were seemingly looking down the barrel, with Liverpool potentially in a position to make second place in the league their own. It would take something really special from United to even get back on level terms but that something special became a reality as the game went on.
United hit back after Chris Smalling headed home an Antonio Valencia cross in the 55th minute to give them hope. The 2-1 is always a nervy score line and even more so for a side that are currently battling to stay in the top flight. The United attacking deluge was going to come, and Palace did their best to hold out, but in the 76th minute United were back on level terms after Lukaku steered home following Sanchez’s deflected shot.
A draw, as disappointing as it would have been, still would have been a decent result for Roy Hodgson’s men, even though they had squandered a two-goal advantage. James McArthur had a great chance to win it for Palace but United kept pressing for the winner and in the 91st minute, the turnaround was complete as Nemanja Matic hit a stunning strike from outside of the area past Wayne Hennessey to silence Selhurst Park.
It was a night that had started out so great for Palace and they did look the side most likely to win the game, going on to secure what would have been a vital three points. They would have shot up into 13th had they won the game but United’s quality really shone through in the second half. It was reminiscent of the Sir Alex Ferguson era how they refused to give up and the three points were well deserved in the end.