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Manchester Utd 1–0 Crystal Palace: Plucky Eagles beaten by Mata strike

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CRYSTAL Palace were narrowly beaten 1-0 this afternoon against Manchester United, thanks to Juan Mata's long range strike.

The Eagles were under the cosh for the opening 20 minutes but fought back well and deserved to go into the break level.

Neil Warnock's side threatened in spells, but in fairness the hosts dominated possession from start to finish.

It took them 67 minutes to break the Palace defence, when substitute Mata beat Julian Speroni from outside danger area.

Adnan Januzaj had a go with a dipping shot from the edge of the box inside two minutes but it went over Julian Speroni's crossbar.

The hosts kept up the early pressure inside the opening ten minutes, pinning the Eagles back and winning a couple of corners in quick succession.

Angel Di Maria gave Speroni his first real save with a shot from distance, while Jason Puncheon's free-kick at the other end nearly fell to Marouane Chamakh, only for the ball to strike Marouane Fellaini and United cleared.

There was no doubt that Louis Van Gaal's side had dominated the opening 15-20 minutes but sloppiness began to creep in, and that allowed Palace to get into the game more.

Wayne Rooney curled an effort way over the bar on 27 minutes, and then Luke Shaw went on a marauding run into the Palace box and drove a low shot inches wide. Speroni may have got fingertips to it, as a corner was given.

With eight minutes until the break, Palace had their first real chance when Yannick Bolasie stormed down the left and delivered perfectly for Fraizer Campbell, but the ball came off Paddy McNair and out for a corner.

And moments later Campbell should have given the Eagles the lead. A mistake in the United defence allowed the striker to control the ball, and with David De Gea racing out, Campbell lifted the ball over him and the crossbar.

Palace finished the half strongly, indeed, and Puncheon sent in a brilliant free-kick only for a United player to nod away for a corner, before referee Chris Foy blew for half-time.

Van Persie tested Speroni early in the second period, with the custodian getting down well after the Dutchman's effort went through a sea of players following a free-kick.

Palace had a chance to silence the home fans when Campbell held the ball up well and spread wide to Puncheon, who ran at the home defence but produced an air shot on the edge of the box, and United cleared.

Rooney was inches from breaking the deadlock when he curled just past the post with Speroni beaten, and then James McArthur was in the right place at the right time to clear Fellaini's header off the goal-line.

Adrian Mariappa provided good support for Campbell down the right and delivered a decent ball to the back post, but De Gea claimed with Chamakh lurking.

And then the full-back played a fantastic ball across the face of goal which found Bolasie flying in but the ball was slightly too high for him.

United brought on Juan Mata, and within five minutes he opened the scoring. Picking up the ball from outside the box, the Spanish star beat Speroni with a shot. Some might say the custodian could have done better, but on the balance of play United had probably deserved the lead.

With ten minutes or so remaining, Neil Warnock sent Dwight Gayle and Barry Bannan on for Chamakh and Bolasie.

However, United were close to doubling their lead when Mata's strike deflected on to the post, and then Van Persie was unable to finish the follow-up.

Palace had simply run out of ideas, with United threatening to kill the game off.

Warnock sent another striker on in the shape of Kevin Doyle as three minutes were added on, but the Red Devils were comfortable and held on to the points.

By Mark Ritson at Old Trafford

Palace: Speroni, Mariappa, Delaney, Dann, Ward, Puncheon, Ledley, McArthur, Bolasie (Bannan 80), Chamakh (Gayle 80), Campbell (Doyle 90).

Subs Not Used: Hennessey, Kelly, Fryers, McCarthy.

Attendance: 75,325

Referee: Chris Foy

Manchester Utd 1–0 Crystal Palace: Plucky Eagles beaten by Mata strike


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