Crystal Palace put up a good fight in the first half, managing to keep Manchester United from scoring until the 45th minute. But a red card to Kagisho Dikgacoi put Robin van Persie in place to open the scoring, and after going down to ten men, it was all the visitors could do to keep the scoreline respectable. Julian Speroni pulled off a couple great saves in the second half, but the Palace keeper couldn’t keep out a late goal from Wayne Rooney, making the final scoreline 2-0.
The visitors spent the majority of the first 45 minutes pinned back in their own half, although their dogged defending managed to keep United from getting in too many quality shots on goal. In fact, for the first fifteen minutes, the majority of the chatter surrounding the game was focused on Rooney’s headgear, an interesting headband adopted due to the cut on his head that kept him out of England’s qualifiers.
But in the 18th minute, the focus changed to Ashley Young and his theatrical abilities. The attacker flew into the penalty area, wrapped his foot around Dikgacoi’s leg, and went to ground. Referee Jon Moss was having none of it, and his yellow card was shown to Young rather than the Palace man.
Why is this relevant, you might ask, considering Young’s reputation and the number of words that would be needlessly wasted if each and every dive was recorded. Well, just before the interval, a similar incident occurred, with Young falling under an arm from Dikgacoi. United fans cried fair, the rest of the world yelled about theatrics, and this time, Moss showed the red to Dikgacoi. Van Persie sent Speroni the wrong way, slipping the ball into the bottom left corner and sending Palace into the locker rooms disheartened.
Disappointed as they may have been, Palace came back for the second half determined to keep the scoreline respectable, but it was Manchester United that had control of the match. Young forced Speroni into a save shortly after the restart, and the rest of the match continued in the same vein, with the visitors getting in just two more shots. New United man Marouane Fellaini came on in the 62nd minute and forced Speroni into a save with an impressive half volley not five minutes later.
In the end, though, it was Rooney who found favor with the United faithful once again, by scoring his side’s second goal. Adnan Januzaj, on for Young, won a free kick just outside the area. Rooney sent in a beautiful shot, bending his strike over the wall to have the ball slot in close to the near post.
Manchester United: De Gea, Fabio Da Silva, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra, Carrick, Anderson (Fellaini 62), Valencia, Rooney, Young (Januzaj 67), van Persie (Hernandez 79)
Subs not used: Evans, Cleverley, Zaha, Amos
Crystal Palace: Speroni, Mariappa, Gabbidon, Delaney, Moxey, Dikgacoi, Jedinak, Campana (Guedioura 59), Puncheon, Chamakh (Kebe 75), Gayle (Jerome 64)
Subs not used: Phillips, O’Keefe, Alexander, Bannan