Manchester United took another step toward a top-four finish by beating Crystal Palace 2-1 at Old Trafford on Saturday, though they made life much harder for themselves than it ever needed to be.
[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA ]
The victory sends Manchester United (42 points) into 3rd place (for the time being, perhaps), now six points ahead of 5th-place Tottenham with both sides having played 21 games. The gap to 2nd-place Manchester City (20 games played) is now just three points, and to leaders Arsenal (also 20), eight. Since losing back-to-back games to start the season and Erik ten Hag’s tenure, the Red Devils have dropped points in just six of 19 games (13W-3D-3L).
Crystal Palace (24 points) remain 12th, six points above the relegation zone.
Man United took an early lead as Bruno Fernandes converted from the penalty spot after Will Hughes blocked Marcus Rashford’s cross with a hand at head height. Fernandes played chicken with Vicente Guaita, taking a slow run-up while watching the Palace goalkeeper until, finally, he leaned one way. Fernandes returned his eyes to the ball, and rolled it the other way.
Scoring chances were plentiful for the Red Devils (14 shots, with an xG total of 2.04), and eventually Marcus Rashford put one away in the 62nd minute, giving him 11 goals in 13 games (to go with four assists – all competitions) since returning from the 2022 World Cup. It appeared at that point that Palace would go quietly into the night and humbly accept defeat, until Casemiro was sent off in the 70th minute for putting both hands around Hughes’ neck.
Crystal Palace took just six minutes to take advantage of their numerical advantage, as Cheick Doucoure volleyed from the edge of the penalty area and Jeffrey Schlupp redirected the initial effort on target and past David de Gea to set up a tense final 15 minutes before nearly nine never-ending minutes of stoppage time.
How to watch Manchester United vs Crystal Palace live, stream link and start time
Kick off: 10am ET, Saturday
Online: Premier League on Peacock
Key storylines & star players
Man United’s lost Christian Eriksen through April but acted quick and in impressive fashion with the loan addition of Marcel Sabitzer from Bayern Munich. Desperate for playing time and a more attacking role than what was asked of him by Bayern, the Austrian star may be just what the doctor ordered even before Eriksen went down. This is a hard-edged player with plenty of attcking firepower to boot.
Palace, of course, is still all about their creative players, as Wilfried Zaha, Michael Olise, Eberechi Eze, and Odsonne Edouard can deliver the goods with just a half-chance, but look out for Deadline Day adds Albert Sambi Lokonga, on loan from Patrick Vieira’s former team Arsenal, and Naouirou Ahamada, who they hope will add a needed ball progressor in the heart of the pitch.
Manchester United team news, injuries, lineup options
OUT: Christian Eriksen (ankle), Donny van de Beek (knee), Mason Greenwood (suspension – MORE) | QUESTIONABLE: Jadon Sancho (undisclosed), Anthony Martial (undisclosed), Diogo Dalot (thigh), Luke Shaw (illness), Scott McTominay (undisclosed)
🚨 TEAM NEWS 🚨
The Reds to take on the Eagles 🥁#MUFC || #MUNCRY
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) February 4, 2023
Crystal Palace team news, injuries, lineup options
OUT: Wilfried Zaha (hamstring), Joachim Andersen (calf), Nathan Ferguson (undisclosed), James McArthur (groin)
The XI to take on United 💪@shophumm 📲#CPFC | #MUNCRY
— Crystal Palace F.C. (@CPFC) February 4, 2023