It was a second miserable weekend in Manchester in succession for Crystal Palace as they fell to another heavy defeat, this time at the hands of Manchester United at Old Trafford.
Roy Hodgson’s team’s wait for a first Premier League point and goal stretches into an eighth game after this latest defeat, with an early Juan Mata goal, a brace from Marouane Fellaini and a Romelu Lukaku tap-in condemning the rock-bottom Eagles to a seventh-straight league loss of the campaign.
Once again this season, a poor start left Palace on the back foot as only two minutes had elapsed before United netted their first. Ashley Young fed the ball down the left channel for Marcus Rashford, who took the ball inside before switching it onto his left foot to beat Joel Ward. The teenager then drove to the byline before centring for Mata who had the simple task of side-footing home from eight yards out.
There was a glimmer of an opportunity for the Eagles to finally end their long wait to ripple the back of the net in league action soon after when Ward won a free-kick just outside the area which Andros Townsend swung into the area, but Mamadou Sakho nodded over the top.
However after surviving Nemanja Matic’s off-target attempt following a sustained period of purring United possession, Hodgson’s team slowly began to impose themselves and after showing promising signs in the form of a few corners, they had their first shot on target around the half-hour mark via a trademark blast from Bakary Sako which required being beaten away by David de Gea.
But the good work was undone four minutes later when Jose Mourinho’s side doubled their lead. Again it came via the left flank with Young teasing his way past Andros Townsend before whipping in a delightful cross towards the back post where Fellaini was on hand to dispatch it past Wayne Hennessey from close range.
The home side smelt blood and had chances to add a third before the break when Chris Smalling headed a corner wide, Hennessey made a smart stop to save a low, driven effort by Rashford and Henrik Mkhitaryan volleyed into the Stretford End before half-time, but following the restart once again Palace were slow out of the blocks and were punished.
United won a free-kick just outside the area which Rashford whipped into the box with venom, and it looked to be heading in itself before Fellaini got the faintest of touches on it from a couple of yards out to claim his second and end the match as a contest.
With the chance of a first Premier League point of the season all but gone, the only consolation Palace could take from the remaining 41 minutes was to try and finally get on the scoresheet, and they had a few glimmers of hope when Sako was harshly denied a penalty, Jeffrey Schlupp miscued a diving header and Yohan Cabaye blazed high and wide.
10 hours of top-flight football this term without a goal would pass before the Eagles’ best opportunity of the game came when Sako screwed over from six yards out after a Ward cut-back, but looking to continue his record of scoring in his first seven league games for his new side, Lukaku wriggled free inside the box and skimmed the base of the post as United continued to look goal-hungry.
With 15 minutes to go, Freddie Ladapo was handed a Palace debut in an effort to end the goal drought and it nearly did via a Townsend free-kick which flashed wide of De Gea’s far post, but Mourinho’s men continued to be the far more potent in attack and Hennessey stayed big to block Anthony Martial’s effort after he was played through by Ander Herrera.
However salt was rubbed into the wound with five minutes remaining when Lukaku finally got his now-customary goal. He started the move by winning the ball in the air and finding Herrera, and once again he played in Martial who this time centred for the big-money summer signing to simply stroke home into an unguarded net and complete another miserable afternoon for Palace.
Manchester United: De Gea, Valencia, Smalling, Jones, Young, Fellaini, Matic, Mata (Herrera 76), Mkhitaryan (Lingard 66), Rashford (Martial 72), Lukaku. Subs not used: Romero, Darmian, Bailly, Blind.
Palace: Hennessey, Ward, Sakho, Delaney, Van Aanholt, Townsend, Milivojevic, Cabaye, Schlupp (McArthur 68), Puncheon (Riedewald 68), Sako (Ladapo 74). Subs not used: Speroni, Kelly, Mutch, Lee.