Crystal Palace 0-2 Manchester United

Glenn Murray returned to the starting XI but couldn't fire Palace to victory

Glenn Murray returned to the starting XI but couldn't fire Palace to victory

First published in Sport
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News Shopper: Photograph of the Author by , sports editor

SECOND half goals from Manchester United strike duo Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney consigned Crystal Palace to a 2-0 defeat at Selhurst Park.

Dutchman van Persie put the Red Devils in front from the spot on 62 minutes after Marouane Chamakh was penalised for a needless foul on Patrice Evra.

And Rooney wrapped up the points six minutes later with a decisive strike from inside the box to leave the Eagles just two points above the relegation zone.

The big team news pre-match concerned the inclusion in the starting XI for the first time this season of last season’s prolific top scorer Glenn Murray.

Jonny Parr was the other fresh face to the side which began the 3-1 win over West Brom a fortnight ago, allowing Joe Ledley to move into midfield, with Yannick Bolasie and Kagisho Dikgacoi dropping to the bench.

Murray was in the action early on, winning a corner as he and Chris Smalling challenged for a header in the United box, while Joel Ward played a neat one-two with Tom Ince, only to see his shot blocked by Marouane Fellaini.

There were huge cheers from the home fans in the Holmesdale as van Persie completely failed to connect with the ball as the Dutchman attempted an ambitious bicycle kick but Adnan Januzaj at least had a shot on goal that flew wide moments later.

Januzaj saw a 17th minute effort correctly ruled out after he handled the ball before drilling shot past Julian Speroni.

Rooney’s curling shot was going in until Damien Delaney headed it off the line but only as far as Nemanja Vidic, whose header from four yards flew over the bar.

David de Gea had to be alert to force behind Smalling’s attempted clearance and the United keeper was able to make a comfortable stop to catch Chamakh’s glancing 34th minute header.

Speroni was more than a match for Rooney’s 25 yard attempt three minutes before the break, while an unmarked Fellaini blazed wildly over from inside the area shortly afterwards with a chance he really should have done a lot better with.

There was still time before the half-time whistle blew for Rooney to place a free-kick wide, but for all of the defending champions’ possession they could have few complaints about going in level at the break.

Palace began the second half brightly by forcing several corners in quick succession, one of which from Ward had to be tipped over the bar by de Gea.

Jason Puncheon drilled a low drive straight at the United keeper after meeting Murray’s flick and the returning striker almost scored himself in spectacular style by volleying straight at de Gea when picked out by Mile Jedinak's free-kick.

But it was the visitors who were presented with the perfect chance to break the deadlock from the spot just after the hour when Evra was fouled inside the area by Chamakh and van Persie’s penalty sent Speroni the wrong way.

Substitute Cameron Jerome almost drew the Eagles back on terms within a minute of replacing Murray but within 90 seconds United doubled their advantage as Rooney finished well from inside the box with a well-struck shot.

It was almost three when van Persie’s angled shot beat Speroni but hit the bar as Palace threatened to implode.

Substitute Bolasie, on for Chamakh, forced de Gea to get down low to deal with his 77th minute shot from the edge of the area.

Ward’s 85th minute looping header was easily held by the visiting stopper and Scott Dann saw a stoppage time header fly just off target as Palace at least tried to grab a consolation.

But there wasn’t to be one as the Eagles went down to their first home loss in 2014.

Next up is Swansea away on Sunday week.

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Crystal Palace: Speroni, Ward, Dann, Delaney, Parr, Puncheon, Jedinak, Ledley, Ince (Gayle 85), Chamakh (Bolasie 74), Murray (Jerome 66). Subs not used: Hennessey, Gabbidon, Dikgacoi, Bannan. Att: 24,571.

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