Man United 1-3 Crystal Palace: Red Devils’ weaknesses ruthlessly exposed by Zaha and co.

The glaring weaknesses in Man United’s squad were laid bare for all to see this evening, as Crystal Palace departed Manchester with a deserved 3 points.

United host Palace

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men returned to action a short time ago, in a meeting with Palace at Old Trafford.

The matchup marked United’s first of the campaign, with the Red Devils having of course been granted an extended break, on the back of their Europa League ventures last month.

The visitors, on the other hand, got their season underway last weekend, along with the majority of the Premier League’s clubs.

The Eagles welcomed Southampton to Selhurst Park, with a solitary Wilfried Zaha strike having eventually seen Roy Hodgson’s men emerge with all 3 points.

Crystal Palace’s Ivorian striker Wilfried Zaha (L) celebrates with Crystal Palace’s German midfielder Jeffrey Schlupp (R) after scoring the opening goal of the English Premier League football match between Crystal Palace and Southampton at Selhurst Park in south London on September 12, 2020. (Photo by Alastair Grant / POOL / AFP)

Zaha decides it

And, when all was said and done in Manchester this evening, Palace made it 2 wins from 2 to start the season.

Following a sustained spell of early pressure, the Londoners took the lead at Old Trafford courtesy of Andros Townsend.

A clever ball down the left-hand channel set Jeffrey Schlupp into a one-on-one situation with Victor Lindelof, who inexplicably allowed the Palace wide-man to direct a pinpoint delivery across the face of goal.

Luke Shaw, after dallying in getting himself back into a position to cut the cross out, was then beaten to the ball by the aforementioned Townsend, who’s delightful finish found the far corner, despite the best efforts of David de Gea:

The ensuing hour of the clash saw little change, with Crystal Palace, for the most-part, having looked more likely to add to their advantage, than United did to level things up.

The visitors then appeared to have bagged an all-important 2nd twenty five minutes from time, when Wilfried Zaha lashed into the roof of the net from close range.

The linesman’s flag, though, was quickly raised, with Zaha having received the ball whilst in an offside position.

But, incredibly, just moments later, it was 2-0.

A bizarre chain of events saw referee Martin Atkinson in the thick of the action, awarding a penalty to Palace following a lengthy VAR check for a Victor Lindelof hand-ball:

Jordan Ayew’s subsequent effort was brilliantly saved by David de Gea, who also went on to gather the rebound, in the process seemingly handing Manchester United a lifeline.

Just when it appeared as though the momentum may have been back with the hosts, though, Atkinson’s whistle blew once more.

To the bemusement of the Red Devils’ players and fans alike, it was decided that Palace’s spot-kick would be retaken, after de Gea stepped inches off his goal-line before stopping Ayew’s initial effort.

And Wilfried Zaha made absolutely no mistake with his ensuing strike, drilling a rising effort beyond the clutches of the unlucky de Gea in the United goal.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND – SEPTEMBER 19: Wilfried Zaha of Crystal Palace scores a penalty for his team’s second goal during the Premier League match between Manchester United and Crystal Palace at Old Trafford on September 19, 2020 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Martin Rickett – Pool/Getty Images)

It didn’t take long before the explosive Zaha was at it once more against his former club, putting the clash to bed as a contest.

But this was only after debutant Donny van de Beek pulled one back for Solskjaer’s men 10 minutes from time.

A mixup at the back on the part of Palace saw the ball drop into the path of the Dutch midfielder, who made no mistake with his superb side-footed finish:

In truth, though, all that van de Beek’s strike did was delay the inevitable.

Palace looked as though they were capable of finding the net on each and every occasion that they burst forward, with it therefore having come as little surprise when they did exactly that with 85 minutes on the clock.

A typically purposeful burst on the part of Man of the Match Zaha saw the Ivorian find his way to the edge of the hosts’ box, before unleashing an unstoppable low effort into the bottom left corner of the Manchester United goal:

This signalled the end of the evening’s scoring, as Roy Hodgson’s men continued their impressive opening to the campaign.

Reds exposed

For Manchester United, on the other hand, things, evidently, look far from rosy.

Fingers will no doubt be pointed at the officiating team for their role in the buildup to Palace’s 2nd goal this evening, whilst a number of the hosts’ stars looked some way short of full fitness.

Ultimately, though, there is no excuse.

This was Manchester United vs Crystal Palace at Old Trafford, and the latter genuinely looked a superior outfit.

Roy Hodgson took full advantage of the shortcomings in the XI fielded by his opposite number, sitting deep to force a United side lacking in ideas into breaking his side down, before targetting the shaky Victor Lindelof to brilliant effect.

Of course, all that this did, when looking back at the 90 minutes in Manchester, was highlight the glaring issues in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s squad.

It is no longer a case of want, but more so need for the Red Devils boss.

A new central-defender and right-winger simply must be brought to Old Trafford before the close of the summer transfer window next month.

If Ed Woodward and co. don’t manage to effectively reinforce United’s unbalanced squad over the coming weeks, the season ahead looks set to prove another filled with pain and frustration for all associated with one of world football’s biggest clubs.

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This article was edited by Josh Barker.

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