Palace took a big, well-earned point away from Old Trafford after a game in which they were probably good for all three.
If you missed the game then the scoreline doesn't tell the story. It was an exciting encounter, edge-of-the-seat stuff at times, with both sides keen to snatch it and both having the chances to do so...
Anthony Martial gave Palace an early scare when he got in behind, but pressure from Aaron Wan-Bissaka and brave goalkeeping from Wayne Hennessey snuffed out the danger.
The Eagles were largely restricted defending and contesting the ball centrally in the opening exchanges, with the occasional foray forward being smothered by the home side. Wilfried Zaha was shown a glimpse of goal on 17 minutes, however his curling effort flew over De Gea’s crossbar.
Minutes later the Ivorian rifled one inches wide of the bottom corner from all of 30 yards, as Palace began to force the game towards the Stretford End.
Zaha was involved again on 25 minutes, wrestling the ball from Matic and setting Max Meyer flying into the exposed United half. The German midfielder fed Zaha in on the right and he found Patrick van Aanholt unmarked across the box, however, the left-back’s effort was wide of the near post.
Palace’s assertions sparked the game into life, with Chris Smalling next to threaten the deadlock only to fluff his lines from point-blank range at the back post.
A sublime Wayne Hennessey stop on the half-hour mark denied Jesse Lingard and the goalkeeper was switched on to catch Martial’s follow up header seconds later.
The game continued to entertain and Palace began to look the more likely to break the deadlock. Cheikhou Kouyate had a goal ruled out minutes before the break, after Lee Mason’s team deemed the midfielder offside when he connected with a Luka Milivojevic free kick. It was to be the last action of the half and the two sides went in level at 0-0.
It was United’s turn to curse the linesman after the restart, with Romelu Lukaku being flagged as he stabbed in from close range. Ashley Young’s low strike through a crowd had been seen late and parried by Hennessey.
United hearts were in mouths when Kouyate hit a low one from 25 yards, which De Gea got a hand to. The rebound seemed to roll, unchallenged, for an age before Van Aanholt gobbled it up, but De Gea guessed right and blocked the placed effort.
The second half was a rollercoaster. Both sides flew forward in numbers and went on the hunt for the first goal, with Palace often looking the more likely to draw blood. The best chance fell to Townsend who, with 15 to go, somehow sliced his way through four United players and wriggled free in the box, but his right-footed effort curled away from the far post.
Hennessey pulled off a sublime save late on, worthy of the point in itself, by tipping a Lukaku header away from the far corner, as United knocked on the door.
Van Aanholt was the next to be called upon for heroics, somehow getting across to deny Rashford from eight yards out and, in doing so, preserving Palace's clean sheet. It ended level.
Palace: Hennessey; Wan-Bissaka, Tomkins, Sakho, Van Aanholt; McArthur, Milivojevic (c), Kouyate, Meyer; Townsend (Schlupp, 87), Zaha (Ayew, 90).
Subs: Guaita, Kelly, Ward, Puncheon, Sørloth.
United: De Gea, Darmian, Lindelof, Smalling, Young (c), Pogba (Sanchez, 67), Matic, Mata (Rashford, 59), Lingard (Fellaini, 59), Martial, Lukaku.
Subs: Grant, Jones, Fred, Valencia.
To listen to how the Eagles' progress in the return leg of this fixture, make sure to tune-in to Palace Audio tomorrow before the game kicks off at 20.00.