Just like in 1990, Manchester United came from behind to beat Crystal Palace to win the FA Cup 2-1 after extra time. They have now equaled Arsenal’s record of winning the FA Cup 12 times. Alan Pardew who was a player for Palace in 1990 could not reverse the score 26 years ago. Key personnel from that day were present in the stadium today. Sir Alex Ferguson helped to bring the FA Cup out with Steve Coppell who was Palace’s manager back then and a former United player who won the cup in 1977. He was part of Palace’s backroom staff and had been trying to recreate the spirit of 1990. Louis Van Gaal has now become the first manager post Sir Alex Ferguson era to win a trophy for United. He said: “ I have taken a picture with him.”
With 14 minutes on the clock United were stroking the ball around and the fans screamed go forward. It was as if Rooney heard them as he left fly from distance but Wayne Hennessey gathered the shot at the second attempt.
From a Yohan Cabaye freekick, Yanick Bolasie headed the ball on target but David De Gea tipped the ball over the crossbar for a corner. Just before the midway point of the first half Mata drove inside the Palace area and hit a shot across goal, but Hennessey made a fingertip save to keep the score goalless. A minute later from a corner Fellaini’s header, which appeared to be heading goalwards, was blocked. Up to this point United were well on top.
United were lucky not to fall behind when Daley Blind dwelled on the ball too long and Wilfried Zaha dispossessed him. However his captain Rooney tracked back and rescued the situation as he blocked Zaha’s shot.
Just after the hour mark, Marcus Rashford received the ball just inside the Palace half and turned and left Damien Delaney for dead. He slid a pass to the back post where Anthony Martial was waiting but his shot was blocked. The game remained goalless at the break.
With 52 minutes gone Marouane Fellani hit a shot from inside the Palace area, which cannoned off the crossbar and back into play. Hennessey knew nothing about it, as he stood rooted to the spot.
On the hour mark from a cross from the right Martial headed against the post. There was to be no fairy tail ending for boy wonder Rashford as he was injured in a tackle by Zaha and was subsequently replaced by Ashley Young.
In the 77th minute Palace were awarded a corner, which Fellaini headed out but it was played back to Jason Puncheon who took one touch inside the area and smashed it into the gap, which De Gea had left to give Palace the lead. The Manchester United fans were stunned as the Palace fans were delirious.
Their joy was short lived though. They say you are always vulnerable when you have just conceded a goal and so it proved. Rooney got hold of the ball and showed why he is the captain as he drove forward and kept hold of the ball. He crossed it to the back post where Fellaini chested it down for Mata who did not break stride as he smashed it into the Palace net through a sea of legs. United were level and Louis Van Gaal’s dream of finishing the season with a trophy was alive again.
In the 96th minute, Rooney hit a shot from distance but it went wide. From a quick free kick United cleared the ball, which fell to Bolasie who hit a shot, which De Gea and to push round the post.
Just before the half time in extra time Bolasie broke free in his half with Smalling in hot pursuit. Smalling grabbed Bolasie and the referee Mark Clattenburg who had already showed him a yellow card, showed in a second yellow and a red card. United were now down to ten men and facing a mountain against a Palace side that simply would not go away.
Van Gaal gathered his troops short one and quickly gave them a pep talk before the second half of extra time. Palace now had an extra man. De Gea was called into action after the re-start, as he had to make a save with his leg from Dwight Gayle. Where would united be without De Gea?
Lingard got the ball twisted and teased the Palace defence and crossed the ball to Carrick who’s header was just wide. A minute later Antonio Valencia crossed the ball into the back but Palace failed to clear the lines. The ball fell to Lingard who blasted it into the roof of the Palace net to give United the lead. What drama!
As Zaha bore down on goal David De Gea bravely saved at his feet and took a knock to the head. United saw out the game and Van Gaal kept his record of winning a trophy at every club he has managed.
Palace simply could not make their numeral advantage in extra time count as they were in a hurry instead of holding on to the ball and passing it around. United on the other hand knew that they would get a chance and they took it. Whatever happens to Van Gaal from here on at least it was appropriate that one of the young players whom he helped to bring through at United, Lingard, had the last word.
“We do fight to the end. We have hit the post two times. I think we deserve it.” Said Van Gaal.