Goals from Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie helped Manchester United end a three-match Premier League winless streak and secure victory at Crystal Palace. Rooney, who just signed a Premier League record £300,000 a week deal at Old Trafford, almost scored from a cross in the first-half. However, his effort was cleared in the goal mouth by Damien Delaney. Belgian midfielder Marouane Fellaini could only fire wide.
More bad news followed for Rooney as the 28-year-old appeared to have something thrown at him from a Palace supporter as he lined the ball up for a corner. The Rooney-Fellaini move was the highlight of an otherwise dull first half. Palace, showing a much stronger backbone under new manager and relegation scrap specialist, Tony Pulis, resorted to trying to catch United on the break. Along with United, Rooney was also in a bad run of form before the game, having gone five matches without finding the net. His frustration showed throughout.
Dutchman van Persie, however, broke the deadlock in the 62nd minute when he converted a penalty after Patrice Evra was judged to have been fouled by Palace striker Marouane Chamakh. The goal seemed to breath new life into Rooney and United as six minutes later, the England international doubled United’s lead with a brilliant half-volley into the top corner. Just minute later, van Persie nearly made it three but he hit the bar. Nevertheless, the two goals from United’s front to were enough to end a winless streak for United.
United and Palace have not always had the best relationship over the years, but the fact the Eagles have spent a number of years outside the top flight has meant the teams have rarely faced each other of late. In 1995, United’s mercurial French striker Eric Cantona Kung-Fu kicked a Palace fan at Selhurst Park as he made his way off the pitch following a red card.
A couple of months later, a Palace fan was run over by the supporters’ own coach after being stabbed at an FA Cup semi-final. Then United boss Sir Alex Ferguson tried to defuse tensions between the clubs and both sets of supporters by calling for calm when he walked on the pitch with a microphone.
United’s current boss and Ferguson’s successor, David Moyes, will just be glad to see his side register three points again. He has faced a barrage of criticism from fans, media, pundits and even opponents for the predictable way in which United have played this season. United’s former coach Rene Meulensteen, who was the manager of Fulham when the sides met a few weeks ago, said he knew exactly how to contain the Red Devils when they met. The good for Moyes is that United put an end to their winless streak. They now sit in 6th spot behind Tottenham Hotspur and eight points behind bitter rivals Liverpool, who are in 4th. Although not many fancy United to secure a top four spot this season and qualify for that all important Champions League, the Palace victory will give them hope.
By Robert Shepherd