ITS BACK TO BACK 3 POINTS FOR MOURINHO’S MEN AS THEY GRAB LAST DITCH WIN VS CRYSTAL PALACE
Not the most exciting game for either sets of fans it was last night, let alone the neutrals. But knowing Jose Mourinho it is a night he will remember. The Manchester United manager loves a fight, and this certainly fell me into that category.
How many times have we seen a Mourinho side labour yet still come away with three points? Add another one to the collection, Jose.
This wasn’t vintage United, nowhere near it. But like a true Mourinho team, they found a way to emerge victorious.
They looked on course for a frustrating point until Zlatan Ibrahimovic slammed home a late winner to boost his team’s top-four hopes and increase Crystal Palace’s relegation fears.
The look of intensity on Mourinho’s face as he strode on to the pitch to embrace his players at full time told you all you needed to know. In the end it was United’s superstars who proved crucial, with goals from Paul Pogba and Ibrahimovic and assists from Pogba and Ibrahimovic.
Pogba was colossal, strutting across the Selhurst Park pitch like he owned it. But Mourinho, as ever, will point to the collective effort.
So too will Palace manager Alan Pardew, whose side came within two minutes of a valuable point after James McArthur levelled.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic wins the ball in the air after finding space between Damien Delaney and Mathieu Flamini.
And Pardew will be well within his rights to point his finger at referee Craig Pawson. United defender Marcos Rojo escaped what could easily have been a straight red card for a wild lunge on Wilfried Zaha in the first half.
Then the officials missed what looked like a handball by Ibrahimovic as he knocked the ball down for Pogba’s opener.
Mourinho, though, will point to a penalty his side were denied in the second half after Joe Ledley appeared to handle in the area.
Similarly, the United boss can feel aggrieved that Juan Mata’s second-half goal was disallowed for offside when he looked to be level with Palace’s rearguard.
Swings and roundabouts, perhaps. But Pardew needs a break — and quickly — with Palace three points clear of the drop zone and the manager’s job far from safe
Mourinho has much loftier ambitions. United remain six points adrift of the Champions League spot but finally look to be heading in the right direction after a slow start to the season.
Heavy south London traffic meant their team bus arrived only 55 minutes before kick-off. Having been late for two London fixtures last season, United should have know better.
They were just as slow to get started until they clicked into gear in the 38th minute. Pogba’s delightful chipped pass into Rooney was worthy of goal but the United skipper’s instinctive shot was well saved by Wayne Hennessey.
The Palace keeper was at it again moments later, saving Pogba’s first-time angled volley with his feet.
But Hennessey couldn’t prevent his side falling behind with virtually the last kick of the first-half.
There was hint of handball and offside when Ibrahimovic chested Mata’s free kick into Pogba’s path. There was no flag or whistle, though, and Pogba stroked home from close range to put United ahead.
After the break, United again lacked ideas in the final third and Palace mustered a response. McArthur will claim the glory, slotting cooly past David de Gea to equalise in the 66th minute, but Damien Delaney’s flick to set up his team-mate provided the real X-factor.
Rooney was denied by a brilliant save from Hennessey before United were furious when Pawson didn’t point to the spot when Ledley appeared to handle in the area.
United threw the kitchen sink at Palace and two minutes from time the goal their performance probably deserved arrived, Ibrahimovic sending the away support into a frenzy with a superb angled finish from Pogba’s through ball.
With United’s win over crystal palace they sort of stop the Rot that has seen them not claim a win in several games that they have been clearly the better side.