Manchester United vs Crystal Palace. Premier League.
Match report and free match highlights as Donny van de Beek scores on Man Utd debut in dramatic defeat
Sunday 20 September 2020 08:27, UK
Wilfried Zaha scored twice on his return to Manchester United as a controversial retaken penalty helped Crystal Palace to an impressive 3-1 win at Old Trafford.
Zaha featured in just four games during his year-long spell at United earlier in his career, but he came back to haunt his former club as his retaken penalty (74) doubled Palace's lead following Andros Townsend's early opener (7).
In the game's major flashpoint, referee Martin Atkinson awarded Palace a penalty after VAR Jon Moss instructed him to consult his pitch-side monitor. Jordan Ayew's cross deflected off the arm of Victor Lindelof, but after Ayew's spot-kick was saved by David de Gea, the Spaniard was deemed to have encroached on the taker.
Donny van de Beek came on for his United debut in the second period and the Netherlands midfielder reduced the deficit with a well-taken effort (80), but Zaha's superb finish (85) ensured a second successive victory for Palace at Old Trafford.
The result keeps the visitors perfect this season with two wins from two while United suffered their first league defeat in 15 Premier League games stretching back to January.
Man Utd: De Gea (6), Fosu-Mensah (6), Lindelof (5), Maguire (5), Shaw (5), Pogba (5), McTominay (6), Rashford (5), Bruno Fernandes (6), James (4), Martial (5).
Subs: Greenwood (5), van de Beek (6).
Crystal Palace: Guaita (7), Ward (7), Kouyate (7), Sakho (8), Mitchell (8), Townsend (7), McArthur (8), McCarthy (8), Schlupp (7), Zaha (9), Ayew (7).
Subs: Batshuayi (n/a), Eze (n/a).
Man of the match: Wilfried Zaha.
This was the first time in six years that United lost their opening game of the season and co-commentator Gary Neville described his former club as looking "knackered" as they fought in vain to salvage something in the second half.
This was a personal triumph for Zaha, who removed any of the controversy that may have lingered after the second-half penalty drama as he brilliantly stretched Palace's lead with five minutes remaining as United fell short in their belated Premier League curtain-raiser.
Wilfried Zaha captained Crystal Palace in a competitive match for the first time at former club Manchester United. Mamadou Sakho replaced Scott Dann in the only change from the 1-0 win over Southampton.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer named new boy Donny van de Beek on the bench and plumped for David de Gea in goal ahead of Dean Henderson. Timothy Fosu-Mensah, Daniel James and Scott McTominay were among the starters for United, whose former player Zaha skippered Roy Hodgson's men.
Palace stunned the hosts after just seven minutes. Tyrick Mitchell sent Jeff Schlupp on his way down the left and with Victor Lindelof failing to stop the inviting low cross, Townsend nipped in front of Luke Shaw to stab home at the far post.
By then, David de Gea had already escaped punishment for a sloppy clearance, and Townsend clearly looked in the mood as he sent another shot from distance wide of the Spaniard's goal moments later.
"It was laziness from Shaw," Patrice Evra told Sky Sports. "He's guessing... and he's got to sprint back to be in line with Lindelof. Shaw has been injured so he doesn't have the same speed but he has to adapt his game. He's not as fast as he used to be."
Despite having 74 per cent possession, United had just two shots on target in the opening half while Paul Pogba's 28 touches had him very much on the periphery.
Their best chances came through shots from distance as Pogba brought a routine save from Vicente Guaita before Scott McTominay's shot veered a yard wide of the post, but Palace's organised defence was not overly worked.
Pogba was struggling to influence proceedings as Solskjaer summoned Mason Greenwood from the bench. United had been losing at half-time on 10 occasions in the league last term, and they failed to recover to win on any of those occasions - and there was little upon the restart to indicate that unwanted record was about to improve.
It took until the 60th minute for United to carve up a chance, but when it arrived they ought to have restored parity as Greenwood glaringly headed wide from close range following Timothy Fosu-Mensah's cross.
Solskjaer's side were awarded a record 14 penalties in the league last term, but they were controversially on the receiving end of a decision with 15 minutes remaining as referee Atkinson applied the new law to handballs inside the box.
There were very few appeals from Palace players as Ayew's cross brushed the arm of Lindelof, but after the match official was told to consult the pitch-side monitor, he granted the visitors the chance to double their lead.
"I thought the penalty to Leeds last week was a nonsense and so is this one," said Neville. "It is never a penalty. Not a chance. Lindelof didn't have a clue [where the ball was]."
Ayew stepped up and saw his tame effort saved by De Gea only for the penalty to be retaken after the United stopper was harshly punished for encroachment.
"That is an absolute disgrace. We are talking millimetres," continued Neville. "This is unbelievable."
With Palace's regular penalty-taker Luka Milivojevic off the pitch, Zaha stepped up and rifled his attempt high above De Gea to intensify United's problems.
But five minutes later, it was game on as Van de Beek capitalised on a hashed clearance by Joel Ward to finish first time beyond Guaita and breathe life into his new team.
The reprieve was short-lived as Zaha quickly sapped any hope of an undeserved equaliser out of them with an emphatic low drive at De Gea's near post to compound United's misery.
Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer: "It's not bits and pieces that decided the game, that's for sure. We didn't deserve to get anything from the game. We started badly and slowly, we looked like a team early on in their preparation in pre-season.
"You could see that they came flying out of the traps. You could see the difference between their prep with four friendlies and this is their third game this season whereas this is only our first game. We had one friendly last week but I think it showed. We were way short.
"You could see the physicality here this evening. They were sharper than us, they were stronger than us and we've got to catch up quickly. We can't wait to have a normal pre-season and our next game is already on Tuesday."
On the penalty decision and retake, Solskjaer added: "It was harsh - very harsh. I think the penalty decision is very harsh, and then it's very harsh on David who makes a fantastic save. He's probably one inch off the line so it's hard to fathom and understand when he's made the save. But rules are rules so we probably can't discuss that one."
Crystal Palace boss Roy Hodgson: "We played better this year than last year. It was a really deserved victory whereas last year we had to ride our lucky on quite a few occasions. There were lots of shots at goal but we really restricted their opportunities to score and we had a lot more opportunities besides the three goals that we did score.
"This performance for me rates even higher than last year when you think of the improvements they've made to their team. We've got to be very proud of that. We always have the plan to start fast, but it's not always carried out. I thought the shape of our team was fantastic and there were some incredible individual performances.
"For Mamadou Sakho to play the game he played after so little football for the past three months, was incredible. Jeff Schlupp has been out for some time too while the midfield and the back line were faultless. We've had two very difficult opening fixtures so to get six points on the board is very pleasing."
Townsend has already matched his Premier League goal tally from last season (one), with this his first league goal in 20 games since scoring against Norwich in September 2019.
He told Sky Sports: "We've not surprised ourselves with the start we've made this season because we know we've got quality in the squad. We showed it at times last season and this term we've added one or two good young players. We're fully confident as we knew this was United's first game so we knew we could catch them cold.
"We did that in the first 10 minutes as we know we have an organised team that is capable of seeing out results. We more than did that today."
The last time United lost their opening Premier League match by at least two goals was in 1995/96, when they were beaten 3-1 at Aston Villa.
They went on to win the title - but they would appear well short of replicating that feat on this sorry evidence. While this was a brilliant team performance by Palace, the classy Zaha was the chief orchestrator.
The Ivorian became the first player to score two Premier League goals in a match against Manchester United, having previously played for the club in the competition.
Harry Maguire couldn't live with his pace, and Townsend beamed at his team-mate's display, telling Sky Sports: "Incredible. What else can I say? He's an incredible talent, he's shown that in the six or seven years he has been here and we're very fortunate to have him in our ranks. Hopefully we can have him for a while longer yet."
Sky Sports' Gary Neville:
"There is going to be big pressure on the back of this. We can talk about Jadon Sancho all we like but until they get a centre-back who can run and defend one-on-ones they are never going to win the league. They are never going to win the Premier League with that centre-back pairing.
"They have to get a mobile, dominant centre-half in alongside either Lindelof or Maguire. If you look at all the best centre-half partnerships down the years, they have always had a quick one.
"Old Trafford is a big pitch and particularly if your full-backs are going forward then you are going to leave your centre-halves one-on-one.
"Over the years, the best Man United centre-back partnerships have always had that really quick one - whether it be Jaap Stam or Rio Ferdinand or Gary Pallister - who has lightning pace to get across and snuff out the danger. Lindelof and Maguire just don't have that."
Manchester United travel to face Luton Town in the Carabao Cup third round on Tuesday, live on Sky Sports (kick-off 8.15pm). Brighton host United in the Premier League next Saturday at 12.30pm.
Crystal Palace host Everton next Saturday at 3pm in the Premier League.