Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal said Crystal Palace came to Old Trafford to defend, and substitute Juan Mata broke them down.
A bit of back-and-forth with Angel Di Maria outside the 18 ended when Mata decided to take his yard of space and blast a shot that deflected past Eagles goalkeeper Julian Speroni.
[ MATCH RECAP: Manchester United 1-0 Crystal Palace ]
After subbing on in the 63rd minute, he effectively won it in the 67th. And van Gaal said Mata could just play his way back into the lineup.
“It was a fantastic goal but it was important also. It is always difficult to attack against a defending team, who come here to defend and not attack. You have two rows of four and we created a lot of possibilities.
“Juan Mata has played a lot of matches. I have given him the chance, I give other players the chance and at the end we shall see who plays more than the other. It is always like that in football.
Van Gaal played down an injury to center back Paddy McNair as “just a cramp”, which is crucial considering the status of United’s back line (particular in the center).
The Red Devils next game is Nov. 22 against Arsenal at the Emirates.