Don’t look now, but Manchester United is back within a win of the top four after beating Crystal Palace 1-0 in Ralf Rangnick’s Old Trafford debut on Sunday.
Fred was the unlikely and late goal scorer as the Red Devils moved onto 24 points, good for sixth place on the PL table. That’s three points back of fourth-place West Ham.
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Palace flummoxed United for much of the game but could not deliver on a pair of big chances. Patrick Vieira’s Eagles remain 12th on the table with 16 points.
WATCH MANCHESTER UNITED v CRYSTAL PALACE FULL MATCH REPLAY STREAM – LINK
Manchester United vs Crystal Palace final score, stats
Final score: Manchester United 1, Crystal Palace 0
Scorers: Fred (77′)
Shot attempts: Man Utd, 16-8
Shots on goal: United, 3-2
Possession: Man United, 61%
Three things we learned from Manchester United vs Crystal Palace
1. Ronaldo, United fail to finish dream start: The opening kick signaled a hard-charging and pressing Manchester United, the Red Devils firing out of the gates and producing numerous chances. Credit Cristiano Ronaldo for producing and getting on the end of numerous chances, but one of the game’s elite finishers just didn’t have it in the opening half. It recalled Ronaldo’s first half back in a Man United shirt, the main difference being that Ronaldo scored before halftime and completed a brace in that match versus Newcastle.
2. Cracks still present, but Palace misses chances: While Patrick Vieira won’t be furious at the point, the video will show Christian Benteke and Jordan Ayew working themselves into positions of extreme promise only to miss chances you’ll see them finishes more times than not. Neither was an easy one, with Benteke getting a chance in the first frame and Ayew late in the match, but Palace will not it could’ve very well added to its terrific recent record at Old Trafford.
3. The pieces fit (even with pieces out): Adding to the consternation Rangnick will feel from United’s failures in front of goal, as Jadon Sancho and Bruno Fernandes were quite lively too, will be the knowledge that he did not have two of the best players in the world available for selection. Raphael Varane is a sensational center back who can deliver most of what Rangnick wants, in many case to his very specifications. And Paul Pogba’s ability to pick out any pass from the midfield will add a dimension to Rangnick’s attack that just wasn’t there on Sunday.
Man of the Match: Fred
One of the more popular United scapegoats, Fred’s been quite good the past few weeks and his finish was wonderful. Also had a key pass, drew two fouls — both pretty nasty — and made seven tackles in the win.
Manchester United vs Crystal Palace highlights
Fred pedals United in front, at last
Palace paid close attention to substitute Mason Greenwood, known for his hard shot with both pegs, and that allowed unlikely scorer Fred to creep from a support position into one of danger.
He didn’t miss.
Manchester United get their goal!
Fred with the wonderful finish to give United the 1-0 lead.
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— NBC Sports Soccer (@NBCSportsSoccer) December 5, 2021