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Report: Zaha solo strike fires Palace to final day victory over United

Crystal Palace
1
Zaha 37'
0
Manchester United

Wilfried Zaha's excellent solo goal saw Palace cap their first season under Patrick Vieira with victory over Manchester United.

Summary

  • Guaita saves well from Cavani’s deflected effort.
  • Schlupp and Zaha test De Gea in quick succession as Palace increase the pressure.
  • Zaha opens the scoring with an excellent solo effort.
  • HT: Palace 1-0 Man Utd
  • Ward’s perfectly timed challenge prevents Hannibal from levelling.
  • Guaita is forced into a smart save by Hannibal's looping effort.
  • Gallagher strikes narrowly wide from distance.
  • FT: Palace 1-0 Man Utd

There was a certain end-of-term feel to the atmosphere as both sets of players emerged into the baking Selhurst sunshine. Adulation greeted the announcement of Jes Rak-Sakyi, starting for the club for the first time.

On the pitch, however, the atmosphere was very different: Patrick Vieira had spoken before the game about his desire for the team to treat this final match with as much importance as every other, and he got his wish.

Palace started the more confidently of the two sides, knocking the ball around the halfway line as they probed for an opening.

It was United who had the first chance however, Edinson Cavani finding space to run in behind and lay a ball back to Bruno Fernandes, but the effort was blocked. Cavani was in again shortly after, and a huge deflection looked to have deceived Vicente Guaita, but he goalkeeper adjusted his position well to make the save.

Palace were not without chances of their own, and twice in quick succession David De Gea was called into action. The first effort came from Wilfried Zaha, shown down the flank by Diogo Dalot but firing low and hard with his weaker foot straight at the goalkeeper.

Moments later Jeff Schlupp was in, sent through with an exquisite flick from Odsonne Edouard; De Gea saved with his legs.

The Palace pressure was telling, and soon they got their reward. Latching onto a loose pass in midfield, Wilfried Zaha took advantage of some careless defending to dance around three defenders and roll the ball into the bottom corner.

The Eagles came out with similar vigour after the restart and straight away there was a chance on the break as Edouard raced into the penalty area, but a combination of Man Utd defenders dispossessed him. At the other end Fernandes saw a free-kick gathered comfortably into the arms of Guaita.

Despite the Palace dominance, the visitors could have been level as Fred picked out Hannibal Mejbri in the area; it took a perfectly timed Joel Ward challenge to clear the danger.

Conor Gallagher was having an excellent afternoon in midfield, tirelessly chasing down every loose touch and misplaced pass as United struggled to deal with his energy off the ball. He very nearly doubled Palace’s lead on the hour mark, finding space on the edge of the area but dragging his shot wide of the far post.

United grew into the game as the second-half progressed, and Hannibal forced Guaita into a smart save with a looping effort from the edge of the area.

With 20 minutes to hold out, Palace solidified by bringing on Cheikhou Kouyaté as the visitors enjoyed the lion’s share of possession. Chances were hard to come by, however, and only an Anthony Elanga snapshot came close to threatening Guaita in goal.

Palace worked to take the sting out of the game, and were successful in preventing Man Utd from coming forwards. There was danger on the break, with Eberechi Eze finding space in front of the defence.

The final whistle brought cheers not only for the result, but for a successful first season of the Patrick Vieira era, as Palace added Man Utd's name to that of Arsenal and Tottenham in their list of famous Selhurst victories.

Palace: Guaita (GK), Clyne, Ward, Andersen, Mitchell, Hughes, Schlupp, Gallagher, Rak-Sakyi (Kouyaté, 67), Edouard, Zaha.

Subs: Butland (GK), Milivojevic, Ayew, Eze, Mateta, McArthur, Benteke, Kelly.

Man Utd: De Gea (GK), Dalot, Lindelof, Maguire, Telles, Fred, McTominay, Hannibal (Mata, 62), Elanga, Fernandes, Cavani.

Subs: Heaton (GK), Bailly, Jones, Varane, Shoretire, Savage, Fernandez, Garnacho.