A brave, battling performance ultimately yielded no points for Palace, as the wait for a Premier League win over Manchester United goes on.
Both teams looked to assert themselves on the opening exchanges, with an early Palace corner resulting in James Tomkins firing an improvised overhead effort back across goal and wide. Seconds later the ball was looping into the Eagles’ area and on to the head of Alexis Sanchez, but a superb Wayne Hennessey stop denied the Chilean the game’s opener.
The fast start was rewarded on 10 minutes when Christian Benteke, who had been lively since kick off, did superbly to hold the ball up and square for Andros Townsend. The Eagles’ number 10 took aim from the edge of the area and his effort deflected beyond David De Gea.
On 18 minutes Alexander Sørloth outmuscled his opponent, cut in from the left and fizzed a low drive at the near post, but De Gea was live to the danger and got down quickly to smother it.
The remainder of the first half passed by without major incident. Palace defended bravely, swarming any United player who ventured within range of the Holmesdale Road End’s goal, stopping them getting a shot off.
Palace flew out the traps for the second 45 and it wasn’t long before the lead was doubled. Quick-thinking from Jeffrey Schlupp saw Patrick van Aanholt played in down the left handside, he steadied himself and ripped an effort in at the near post with De Gea frozen.
Chris Smalling halved the lead minutes later when he was found free at the back post to nod beyond Wayne Hennessey. However, Palace responded positively and took the game to the visitors from the restart. Wan-Bissaka saw a looping cross nearly wrong-foot De Gea, but the goalkeeper reacted to claw the ball over his crossbar.
Wan-Bissaka continued to impress and tirelessly worked the right flank, denying United’s players space off the ball and bombing forward to support attacks in possession. A beautifully held up cross found Benteke’s head on 70 minutes, but it was just too high for the forward, who saw his effort loop onto the roof of De Gea’s net.
The Eagles were forced time and again to throw bodies on the line. A goal line clearance, a last-ditch tackle, the defence worked hard to keep United out. But the luck ran out on 75 minutes. A deflected Sanchez effort rebounded off the crossbar to Romelu Lukaku and the striker managed to work an angle to fire low into the net for 2-2.
Not to be disheartened, Palace flew back at United from kick off. Townsend charged at substitute Luke Shaw and sat up a cross for Benteke, but a world class save from De Gea kept the scores level.
Sørloth, in particular, ran himself into the ground - and then ran some more – in the pursuit of a winner for the Eagles.
But it wasn’t to be for Palace…
United struck late. Too late for a response. A clearance fell to Nemanja Matic, who controlled the ball and lashed a long-range effort beyond Wayne Hennessey a minute into the three added on by the fourth official, sealing the three points for the Red Devils.
Palace: Hennessey; Wan-Bissaka, Kelly, Tomkins, Van Aanholt; Townsend, McArthur, Milivojevic (c), Schlupp (Riedewald, 79); Sørloth, Benteke.
Subs: Cavalieri, Delaney, Jach, Souare, Rakip, Lee.
United: De Gea; Valencia (Mata, 67), Smalling, Lindelof, Young (Shaw, 67); Matic, McTominay (Rashford, 46), Pogba; Lingard, Sanchez; Lukaku.
Subs: Pereira, Darmian, Bailly, Carrick.