Crystal Palace condemned Manchester United to a miserable start to their Premier League campaign as Andros Townsend and a Wilfried Zaha double led the Eagles to successive wins at the start of a season for the first time in their history.
After Townsend squeezed a seventh-minute shot into the far corner from Jeffrey Schlupp’s cross, the hosts struggled badly but the game slipped away from them thanks to Zaha’s controversial 74th-minute penalty.
Referee Martin Atkinson used the VAR TV monitor to decide Victor Lindelof had handled inside his own box. But, after David de Gea thought he had saved Jordan Ayew’s spot-kick, Atkinson ordered a retake because the Spain international had moved off his line. Zaha took responsibility for the second attempt and made no mistake.
On his debut, Donny van de Beek pulled one back 10 minutes from time but Zaha struck again against his former club to secure a deserved victory for Palace.
It was their biggest ever win at Old Trafford, the first time they have beaten United away from home in successive seasons and extended Palace’s remarkable undefeated run in away games against the two Manchester clubs to five.
For United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, it was a horrible day. Too many of his players were off the pace, including Paul Pogba, who was replaced by Van de Beek midway through the second half.
Veteran boss, youthful team
Palace’s 73-year-old boss Roy Hodgson is just five years younger than Sir Alex Ferguson, who watched this game from the directors’ box.
Ferguson must have been impressed with the youthful exuberance of the Palace side. Despite conceding possession, they were by far the most inventive and gave central defensive pair Harry Maguire and Lindelof a torrid time.
Lindelof was shrugged away far too easily by Schlupp in the build-up to Townsend’s goal and Ayew would have had a second for Palace before the break had it not been for De Gea’s brilliant one-handed save.
That it should be Zaha whose contribution eventually proved decisive was a further painful memory for United.
Zaha was Ferguson’s last signing as United boss. But the Ivory Coast international never settled at Old Trafford and was sold back to Palace in 2015.
After ending last season with a whimper, Palace could not have done better over the past fortnight and face an intriguing meeting with Everton, who have also won their opening two games, at Selhurst Park next weekend.
A rare opening defeat for Man Utd – the stats
- Crystal Palace have won consecutive league games away against Man Utd for the first time; they’re just the second London club to win consecutively in the Premier League at Old Trafford after Tottenham in 2012-13/2013-14.
- Manchester United have lost their opening home game to a Premier League campaign for the just the third time, also losing vs Everton in 1992-93 and Swansea in 2014-15.
- Crystal Palace scored more than twice for the first time in 40 Premier League games, since beating Bournemouth 5-3 on the final day of the 2018-19 campaign.
- Palace’s Zaha has scored in consecutive Premier League games for the first time since November 2019 – his two strikes were his first goal involvements in his 10th Premier League appearance against former club Manchester United.
- Zaha became the first player to score two Premier League goals in a match against Manchester United, having previously played for the Red Devils in the competition.
- Crystal Palace’s Townsend has already matched his Premier League goal tally from last season (one), with this his first league goal in 20 games since netting against Norwich in September 2019.
- Manchester United keeper De Gea has failed to save any of the past 18 penalties he’s faced in the Premier League, last keeping one out from Everton’s Leighton Baines in October 2014.
- Van de Beek became the 20th player to score on his Premier League debut for Manchester United, and the 10th of those to do so as a substitute.
Manchester United travel to Championship side Luton in the Carabao Cup on Tuesday, 22 September (20:15 BST) while Crystal Palace are next in action on Saturday, 26 September when they host Everton in the Premier League (15:00).
This article was previously published on BBC Sport