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Dublin: 8 °C Saturday 15 December, 2018


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Hello, and welcome to today’s liveblog.

As always, we’d love to hear your thoughts on the game. E-mail, tweet @the42_ie, post a message to our Facebook wall, or leave a comment below.

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Kick off is at 3.00pm.

Here are today’s teams…

Man United: De Gea, Valencia, Smalling, Jones, Young, Matic, Fellaini, Mata, Mkhitaryan, Rashford, Lukaku.

Subs: Romero, Darmian, Bailly, Lingard, Blind, Ander Herrera, Martial.

Crystal Palace: Hennessey, Ward, Sakho, Delaney, Van Aanholt, Milivojevic, Cabaye, Townsend, Puncheon, Schlupp, Sako.

Subs: Speroni, Lee, McArthur, Ladapo, Mutch, Kelly, Riedewald.

Well then, just under ten minutes to go before kick-off.

Manchester United aiming to continue their blistering unbeaten start to the new (can we still say new?) Premier League season, while Crystal Palace aim to get their first points on the board.

Jose Mourinho’s charges have scored 28 goals in all competitions this season. Following a 4-1 Champions League win away to CSKA Moscow confidence will be sky-high.

The contrast between these sides cannot be overstated as Palace have yet to even score a goal in the Premier League this season after five games — merely five consecutive defeats and a premature sacking for manager Frank de Boer.

Will their fortunes change at Old Trafford today?


A goal already! What a perfect start for Manchester United. They have started as they mean to go on and have scored with what is essentially their very first attack in this game.

Marcus Rashford skips past Joel Ward with ease before squaring to Juan Mata, who beats Wayne Hennessy with a first time, side-footed strike. Incredible.


Palace try to respond with Cabaye delivering a cross which Mamadou Sakho heads just over David De Gea’s crossbar.


A second chance for United as Fellaini makes a nuisance of himself inside the area. Palace’s defence is looking sheepish as they allow United to dance into the box with little trouble.

They force it clear… eventually, but they really are making hard work of this already.

Playing like a side bottom of the Premier League, you might say, but there’s still 80 minutes of football to be played.


Another chance for the hosts as Matic offers a shot from range following some more excellent build-up play from Marcus Rashford cutting inside from the left wing.


Another strike from range. This time it’s Antonio Valencia. He scored from a similar range against Everton a fortnight ago but this time the effort is blocked down effectively at the first hurdle.

United maintaining the upper hand as they continue to compress Palace further and further into their own final third.


Some more deadly and precise passing sees Ashley Young play Henrik Mkhitaryan through surging into the box. The Armenian crosses at the first opportunity but it can’t reach its intended target of Romelu Lukaku and is hoofed clear.


Juan Mata attempts to release Lukaku but Hennessey comes charging from his line to scoop up the threaded through ball. Palace yet to offer a shot on target inside the game’s opening 20 minutes here.


Juan Mata celebrates his opening goal after just 3 minutes…

Manchester United v Crystal Palace - Premier League - Old Trafford Source: Martin Rickett


My goodness that was sweet: Palace on the attack but Antonio Valencia simply robbed the ball off the toe of his opposite number by clamping his foot down and wrapping the ball around himself.

That was sublime, and perhaps a microcosm of just how hard the player has worked in this game and indeed all season. Palace simply can’t escape and when they try to pass the half-way line are hunted down in packs.

They are already beginning to miss the physical presence of Christian Benteke, who has been ruled out for six weeks.


That’s better from Palace — they earn a corner which is excellently delivered by Andros Townsend and now have earned another, which is again easily headed clear.


Romelu Lukaku attempts a cross which is handled by Jason Puncheon on the edge of the area. A free-kick in a promising position for the hosts now…


Juan Mata with the delivery but it is a poor, poor effort which sails right into the arms of Wayne Hennessy with ease.


Better again from Palace as they go up the other end via Townsend and earn another corner. It was an early, early set-back with Mata’s opener but Roy Hodgson’s side are showing a lot of spirit here not to lie down and accept defeat.


The story of this game so far — it’s another poor delivery from a corner. Buuuut Palace do work the ball back up the field and test David De Gea with a powerful effort at the near post.

A first shot on target for the visitors which no doubt stung the palms of the Spanish goalkeeper considerably.


Annnnnd just as Crystal Palace looked to be coming into this game to make a go of it, Manchester United double their lead ten minutes before the break.

Nothing could possibly suck the soul out of a team more than the sight of Marouane Fellaini bundling the ball over your line and into the back of the net.

He has been excellent for United so far this season in the only way the Belgian can — being a workhorse and a pain in the backside for defences.

This time Young cuts inside before curling a wonderful cross over the penalty area towards the back post. It misses everyone but Fellaini who is happy to side-foot the effort past Hennessy for 2-0.


So close to 3-0! Chris Smalling goes unmarked at the back post — he rises above Mamadou Sakho but sees his header creep inches wide of the bottom corner.


Another effort! It’s champagne football from the hosts now. They split Palace to pieces via some excellent and tenacious dribbling from Ashley Young. The ball finds its way to Rashford unmarked at the back post following a Romelu Lukaku header.

However Rashford’s snapshot at the near post forces a brilliant low save from the right boot of Hennessy to keep it at 2-0 as we inch closer to the half-time interval.


There will be just one minute of addition time to be played at the end of the first half.


The second half is underway…


A very, very early chance straight from tip-off for United. He delivers a cross at the front post which Romelu Lukaku forces a corner from, but the delivering from the corner is yet again abysmally poor.


It’s that pairing again — Fellaini with the goal and Rashford with the assist.

It’s an unstoppably powerful cross from a free-kick from Rashford which the Belgian helps on its way, the player is no more than three yards out but gets his head to it and brings it over the line.

A brace for Fellaini!


My word Roy Hodgson looks bruised and battered. He has his head in his hands in his dugout and knows, as do most, that his side are en route to a sixth Premier League defeat in a row.


To their credit Palace are still moving forward when given the chance. This must be utterly demoralising for them, and their manager’s reaction shows it in spades.

That said, although defeat is all but a certainty it would be something for them to at least score. It would be their first goal of the season. I mean, you have to start somewhere, right?


Chance for a fourth for United. Ashley Young with a low effort inside the penalty area — his intended target is the bottom corner but Hennessy does well to keep it out.

Although he has let in three so far today, the Palace goalkeeper has made some fine saves.


A rare effort from Palace from Sakho is dragged wide of the post, as the game slows down to a pedestrian pace.


Another chance to make it 4-0 as United almost toy with their opponents.

Lukaku breaks free on the left channel but he delays on the ball and his cross towards the back post and Marcus Rashford is uncharacteristically poor and is blocked before being cleared.


Substitution for Man United:


A shocking effort from Cabaye flies well and truly over the top of the crossbar. An effort more in frustration than any real belief of hitting the target from the midfielder there.


Substitution for Crystal Palace: James McArthur replaces Jeffery Schlupp.


Substitution for Crystal Palace: Jairo Riedewald replaces Jason Puncheon.


SO CLOSE! Romeulu Lukaku did all the hard work there, but when it came to slotting the ball into the bottom corner he comes up just short.

It was on his left boot, but with the bottom corner lying it wait for him to simply roll the ball in to make it 4-0 the only sound that could be heard inside Old Trafford were pained groans that the striker had — somehow, SOMEHOW — missed the target.


Substitution for Crystal Palace: Freddie Ladapo replaces Bakary Sako.


Better again from Palace as substitute McArthur swings in a dangerous corner which forces De Gea to come from his line and punch clear.


Substitution for Man United: Ander Herrera replaces Juan Mata.


A free-kick from Townsend flies just wide of the post. They’re pushing and pushing, but there’s no real cutting edge from Palace as United are happy to wear down the clock to another three points.


Romelu Lukaku does get on the scoresheet and his hard work this evening has reaped the just rewards.

United stroll through a lacklustre Palace defence with such ease and pleasure, before a cross towards the back post finds an unmarked Lukaku who has the simplest of tasks — he taps it past a scrambling Hennessy to make it 4-0.


This has been yet another dominant performance from United and the scoreline reflects as such.

A fourth 4-0 victory in the Premier League this season sees them rise to top of the Premier League until at least this evening when all eyes will be on Chelsea vs Manchester City.


There will be 3 minutes of additional time to be played.

About the author:

Aaron Gallagher


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