BY MAX HALL
Crystal Palace looked as though they would be able to stage a stirring comeback after falling behind to a Romelu Lukaku double, but a goal from pantomime villain Ashley Young seven minutes from time secured victory for United just as the visitors’ rearguard was starting to wobble.
The hosts had been given an early scare when Lukaku was left criminally unmarked to blaze over a Luke Shaw corner from seven yards in the eighth minute, but Andros Townsend went close at the other end shortly after.
Townsend fired a yard wide of David De Gea’s left-hand post in the 27thminute but Palace were then undone by a nightmare 60 seconds for Jeffrey Schlupp.
The midfielder let Shaw shrug him off too easily in the 33rdminute as the United wing-back went on a slaloming run deep into Palace territory before picking out Lukaku, who buried a shot inside Vicente Guaita’s left-hand post.
Then, at the other end, Townsend picked out Schlupp, who had been given the freedom of the United area but glanced his header horribly wide.
Palace were given a mountain to climb seven minutes into the second half when Lukaku reacted first to nick the loose ball past a sprawling Guaita in the six-yard box after Chris Smalling had headed a corner from the right-back across the area and Victor Lindelof helped it on.
But Joel Ward hauled the Eagles back into it as he dived to head home in the 66thminute, Schlupp making amends by providing the perfect curling cross after getting behind the United defence following great work from Wilfried Zaha.
Guaita was equal to a Paul Pogba free-kick just outside the D in the 75thminute but United made the points safe when the Frenchman and Lukaku combined on the edge of the area for the former to pick out Young, charging in unmarked from the right and his low effort beat the Palace keeper.
Second-half substitute Christian Benteke should have done better with a header deep into injury time but the game was already over by that late stage.
Crystal Palace (4-3-3): Guaita, Ward, Kelly, Tomkins, Van Aanholt (Kouyaté, 82), McArthur (Meyer, 61), Milivojevic, Schlupp, Townsend, Batshuayi (Benteke, 78) Zaha. Subs not used: Hennessey (GK), Dann, Ayew, Riedewald.
Manchester United (4-1-2-3): De Gea, Young, Smalling, Lindelöf, Shaw, McTominay, Pogba, Fred (Garner, 90), Dalot (Bailly, 77), Lukaku, Sánchez (Rashford, 77). Subs not used: Romero (GK), Pereira, Rojo, Chong.