Manchester United 4-0 Crystal Palace: Marouane Fellaini nets twice
By James Walker-Roberts
Last Updated: 30/09/17 6:55pm
Marouane Fellaini scored twice as Manchester United eased to a 4-0 victory over struggling Crystal Palace on Saturday.
Juan Mata gave United the lead after just three minutes at Old Trafford before Fellaini finished from close range either side of half-time.
Romelu Lukaku completed the scoring late on as United secured their fourth 4-0 win of the season.
Injury-hit Palace, who were without a recognised striker in the absence of Christian Benteke, rarely threatened to score their first Premier League goal of the campaign, let alone pick up their first point.
Defeat leaves them rooted to the foot of the table and in desperate need of a change of fortunes after the upcoming international break. United, meanwhile, move top with victory; their sixth from seven Premier League matches.
Man Utd: De Gea (6), Young (7), Jones (6), Smalling (6), Valencia (7), Fellaini (8), Matic (6), Mata (7), Rashford (8), Mkhitaryan (6), Lukaku (7)
Subs: Martial (6), Lingard (6), Herrera (6)
Crystal Palace: Hennessey (5), Ward (4), Sakho (5), Delaney (4), Van Aanholt (4), Milivojevic (4), Cabaye (5), Schlupp (4), Townsend (4), Puncheon (4), Sako (5)
Subs: McArthur (5), Ladapo (5), Riedewald (5)
Man of the match: Marouane Fellaini
United took just three minutes to score the opener, with Rashford turning away from Joel Ward in the left corner and crossing for Mata to finish from the penalty spot.
That did not, though, immediately open the floodgates as Palace largely kept United at bay and also occasionally threatened, with Mamadou Sakho heading over and Bakary Sako seeing a powerful strike saved.
But United always looked in control of the game and Fellaini tapped in a cross from Ashley Young in the 35th minute before Chris Smalling headed wide from a corner and Henrikh Mkhitaryan blazed a volley over.
Any doubts over the result were put beyond doubt shortly after half-time as Fellaini headed in from Rashford's free-kick.
Jones and Fellaini started for United, while Smalling replaced Bailly at centre-back. Roy Hodgson said beforehand that Palace had been hit by a "plague of injuries", and they were without Benteke, Loftus-Cheek, Zaha and Tomkins, meaning Sako started as the lone striker.
Palace had strong appeals for a penalty turned down when Jeffrey Schlupp went down under a challenge from Smalling. Otherwise the visitors created few openings, despite seeing more of the ball in the second half.
At the other end, Lukaku missed a one-on-one chance, Jesse Lingard fired over and Anthony Martial saw a shot saved. United eventually got a fourth as Lukaku tapped in Martial's cross from close range in the 86th minute.
- Only Halifax Town in 1990-91 (730 minutes) have gone on a longer run from the start of a season in English league history (top four tiers) without a goal than Crystal Palace this season (630 mins). Palace overtook Burnley in 1997-98 (552 mins) in this defeat to Man Utd.
- Crystal Palace have lost eight consecutive league games without scoring, the joint-longest run in English league history alongside Hartlepool (two occasions,1970 & 1993) and Sunderland (1977).
- No player has scored more goals in their first seven Premier League appearances for Man Utd than Romelu Lukaku (seven - level with Andrew Cole).
- Marouane Fellaini has scored three goals from four shots in the Premier League so far in 2017-18 - more than he netted in the previous two seasons combined, two goals from 46 shots.
- Marcus Rashford has had a hand in nine goals in his last 10 games for Man Utd in all competitions (five goals, four assists).
- Man Utd kept five consecutive Premier League clean sheets at Old Trafford for the first time since a seven-game run in March 2010 under Alex Ferguson.
Jose Mourinho: "I told the players that we had to respect an opponent in a difficult situation, an opponent better than their results show. It was important to respect them and play seriously. The result is probably bigger than our performance because I don't think our performance was consistent. We had good periods, good moments, we always had control of the game, but we can do better. The important thing is the three points."
Roy Hodgson: "There is a lot we have to put right. The message today was you have to be disappointed with the way we conceded the goals but on the other hand we didn't lay down and even towards the end we were asking a few questions. Unfortunately they found the questions relatively easy to answer."
The pundit - Matt Le Tissier
"All credit to Jose Mourinho. In Fellaini he has somehow managed to get a tune out of a player who many thought his career at Old Trafford was over. He has gone in there, boosted his confidence. He looks a threat now. He gets himself into forward positions more often and took his goals really well. A 4-0 win at home, no matter who you play, is a great result."
Man of the match - Marouane Fellaini
What a turnaround it has been for Fellaini. Less than a year ago he was being booed by some United fans, but after scoring twice against Palace it was his name that was being chanted around Old Trafford before he was cheered down the tunnel by the Stretford End.
It was Fellaini's first Premier League double since 2013 and he was a controlling presence for United throughout.
"He played really well," said Jose Mourinho. "He has been doing it a long time. He is confident, he is happy with his contribution to the team."
After the international break, Manchester United four away games in a row. They go to Liverpool in the Premier League, live on Sky Sports, then travel to Benfica in the Champions League before going to Huddersfield in the league and Swansea in the Carabao Cup.
Palace host Chelsea on October 14 before going to Newcastle the following week.