Sharing is caring!Facebook1Twitter0Google+0Pinterest0 It may as well have been 1990 revisited. All it lacked was the replay. But the central themes, t...
It may as well have been 1990 revisited. All it lacked was the replay. But the central themes, the board narrative and the plot lines were just as they were 26 years ago.
There was the south London hero coming off the bench to breathe life into Palace so that they dared to hope; there was the subsequent heartache, and the United comeback; and there was the beleaguered manager parading an FA Cup as vindication of his regime.
Louis van Gaal may not get another 23 years after this final as Sir Alex Ferguson did, but if this does prove to be his last game at the club, he at least delivered in the manner in which we have come to expect.
Jesse Lingard strips off his shirt after scoring an extra-time winner to claim the FA Cup with a 2-1 defeat of Crystal Palace
Manchester United responded to Palace’s opening goal within minutes as Juan Mata netted the equaliser
The Spain playmaker leaps at the corner flag to celebrate drawing Manchester United level in the FA Cup final
Substitute Jason Puncheon celebrates with team-mates after coming on to smash home the opening goal for Crystal Palace
Manchester United keeper David de Gea is beaten by the sheer force of Puncheon’s volley on 78 minutes
Manchester United: De Gea, Valencia, Smalling, Blind, Rojo (Darmian), Carrick, Mata (Lingard), Fellaini, Rooney, Martial, Rashford (Young)
Subs: Jones, Romero, Ander Herrera, Schneiderlin
Booked: Smalling, Rojo, Mata, Rooney, Fellaini
Scorer: Mata 81′
Crystal Palace: Hennessey, Ward, Dann (Mariappa), Delaney, Souare, Jedinak, Cabaye, Zaha, McArthur, Bolasie, Wickham (Gayle)
Subs: Speroni, Adebayor, Sako, Kelly, Puncheon
Booked: Dann, Delaney
Scorer: Puncheon 78′
Referee: Mark Clattenburg
Not gloriously, with smooth, delightful football. But at least with one of his own fledglings, Jesse Lingard delivering a stunning winning goal, 20 minutes into extra time, just as United seemed to be crumbling, with Chris Smalling sent off.
Lindgard’s strike from Damien Delany’s clearance was something quite glorious with which to cap van Gaal’s reign, if this is to prove his end. Perhaps not in keeping with the previous two years, but for sheer belligerence alone, he perhaps merited this.
That they did it was no thanks to Chris Smalling. Extra time had been a scrappy, nervy affair. Wilfired Zaha had tempted Daley Blind into a rash challenge in the opening minute but the Dutchman escaped conceding a penalty. Lingard’s shot deflected off Pape Souare and on to the roof of the net. And Yannick Bolasie’s shot from outside the box was touched away by De Gea.
Yet the chief drama in the first period came when Bolasie spun past Smalling, who grappled, grabbed and finally pulled his boot back as he dashed away. A second yellow card was inevitable and Smalling went. Palace had fifteen minutes to make the advantage count. They sensed their moment. Dwight Gayle was played in, had a second to shoot but found De Gea equal to his strike.
From that moment, it slipped away from them. It was cruel on Palace who had emulated the 1990 heroics in many ways. Jason Puncheon was Ian Wright, the south-London hero this time, the man who grew on Clifton Road, literally a block away from Selhurst Park, who rose from the bench on 71 minutes and put Palace ahead with a finish of which Wright would have been proud from Joel Ward’s lofted pass.
From a fiendishly-difficult angle he controlled the ball and fairly smashed inside David de Gea on 78 minutes. It sparked a degree of pandemonium. Alan Pardew broke into a bout of dad dancing on the touchline. John Travolta it was not; it was forgivable, however. Palace were twelve minutes from something historic.
It was Juan Mata who provided the heartache this time, not Mark Hughes. Palace had only enjoyed their lead for two minutes when Wayne Rooney set off on a run from his midfield position. No-one seemed to confront him as he continued into the box, crossed and found Fellaini. His chest down fell perfectly for Mata, who struck. Even then Ward, on the line, should have kept it out but somehow allowed it through.