BY ROB SUTHERLAND
Crystal Palace secured the rarest of Old Trafford victories over Manchester United thanks to a late winner from Patrick van Aanholt.
The left-back took his opportunity down the left wing with confidence, just as it looked like United would build on the equaliser Daniel James had scored minutes beforehand.
Palace took the lead on 32 minutes when a Vicente Guaita goal kick was superbly headed on by Jeffrey Schlupp, giving Jordan Ayew a clear run on goal. The Ghanaian striker coolly placed past David de Gea to put the Eagles ahead.
Palace might have been fortunate not to go into the second half down to 10 men, when a Gary Cahill foul on Marcus Rashford was given a yellow card instead of a red. The striker would have been clear on goal but for Cahill’s intervention. Despite United’s pressure, Palace did well to keep their opponents at bay.
The second half saw Palace continue as they had started. A combination of luck and committed defending looked like it would see through. But that resolve was soon tested when a Luka Milivojevic trip on Scott McTominay handed United the chance to score. Rashford stepped up but his penalty hit the post and rebounded out.
A VAR review just a short while later was turned down, following a challenge from Martin Kelly on Rashford. It had been determined that he was already falling by the time Kelly made contact.
United made that pressure count in the 88th minute. Paul Pogba capitalised on an error from Wilfried Zaha, dispossessing him and starting a series of passes across the pitch which saw Anthony Martial find winger James in acres of space. He cut inside, took aim and curled a precise effort past De Gea.
It had looked like United would push on but that pressure was absorbed resolutely by the Eagles. A Zaha run late in the game peaked some interest in the potential for a Palace winner, but it was a Van Aanholt just a few minutes later that made it so.
The Dutch full-back, so often better in attack than defence, was allowed to run on to a Zaha pass. He took a touch and hit a low, hard drive past De Gea. The Spanish keeper might have been expected to do better, but Palace were once again in the most surprising of leads.
It turned out to be the smashiest of smash and grab wins. Palace probably didn’t deserve all three points but it was a performance of outright commitment; after the performance at Bramall Lane last weekend, it was needed.
PICTURES BY SEAN GOSLING