Man Utd hold on to defeat Crystal Palace after Casemiro madness - but must be much smarter in the future
- Fernandes & Rashford put home side 2-0 up
- Casemiro red card changed game
- United held on despite Schlupp goal
TELL ME MORE: United were in the ascendancy from the first minute and were rewarded for their early pressure when Will Hughes was adjudged by VAR to have handled inside the box. Bruno Fernandes duly stepped up, hopped and stroked the ball home past a helpless Vicente Guaita, who was called into action shortly after to stop Wout Weghorst from making it two. Palace, meanwhile, generated very little, with Jeffrey Schlupp producing a fine save from David de Gea in their only threatening moment in the first half.
Things went from bad to worse for Palace when Weghorst's departure brought Marcus Rashford into the middle, who continued his impressive form of late with a poacher's finish from close range. The game flipped on its head with 20 minutes to play, though, when Casemiro unceremoniously strangled Hughes in a melee on the pitch and was shown a red card. The decision appeared to give Palace newfound belief, which only increased when Schlupp pulled one back from a corner to set up a nervy closing stages. Heroics from Lisandro Martinez in particular kept Palace at bay, as United held out for a crucial three points.
THE MVP: Up until about 70 minutes, it would have seemed ludicrous to single out United's defending, with Fernandes and Rashford shining up front once again. However, the one-two effect of Casemiro's dismissal and Schlupp's goal made for a nervy finish, in which Martinez stepped up to the occasion to become the match's unsung hero. The Argentine popped up everywhere in the last 15 minutes or so, on hand to provide a last-ditch challenge or a flying block like a man possessed. While United's front men got the ball rolling, the efforts of Martinez were vital, ensuring that his side avoided conceding another late equaliser against Palace in a matter of weeks.
THE BIG LOSER: What on earth was Casemiro thinking?! Having just come back from suspension for a yellow card picked up in the reverse fixture against Palace, the Brazilian now faces an even lengthier spell on the sidelines. In a melee off the ball that involved neither him nor Hughes, Casemiro's moment of madness completely changed the course of the match. Substitute Alejandro Garnacho was forced to be replaced to bring on defensive reinforcements, and, were it not for Martinez's heroics, the Brazilian could have cost his side the three points. Even more damning is the three match ban he looks set to pick up which, given the recent woes of Christian Eriksen, leaves United's midfield even more threadbare.
MATCH IN THREE PHOTOS:
WHAT NEXT? United climb back into third after holding out for the win at Old Trafford, with their next match in the league coming at home against Leeds on Wednesday.
MATCH RATING (OUT OF FIVE): ⭐⭐⭐⭐