David Hytner was at Selhurst Park. His report is one click away. Thanks for reading this MBM. Nighty night…
Roy Hodgson’s verdict. “The most difficult thing to take is to play so well yet lose the game. We played really well, and could so easily have been leading. It’s very hard to take, especially as there were a couple of issues that could easily have gone our way but didn’t. Referees, you never see them, they’re miles away. I thought the referee on the field could have given the penalty, the people in the office somewhere in Hounslow decided against it too. The other one is one of those hair-fine decisions that is hard to take. One is used to football without VAR, and when a ball is crossed along the six-yard line and someone slides in and scores, I don’t remember those goals ever being ruled out for offside. I’m bitterly disappointed, because that was something we didn’t deserve.”
Peter Walton is currently on BT Sport offering his observations on the two VAR decisions. Here’s a live stream.
That’s six defeats in a row for Palace, though when it all comes down, they’ll take heart from their performance tonight. They could so easily have had a couple of goals themselves. But it wasn’t to be. They stay in 14th on 42 points, one place and five points ahead of their great rivals Brighton. So life’s not too bad.
A word with United’s goal-scoring hero Marcus Rashford. “Every game for us now is a big game. Before the Southampton game we were scoring goals for fun, but that was a bit more difficult and so was this one. These type of victories you get a lot out of as a team, because you have to work double hard to get a result. Our patterns of play are positive, it’s what we’re looking to improve on. With VAR you don’t really know what to expect, but you can only react to the decision that’s made. It can be difficult at times for both teams. We’ve just got to go and win every game, so today was good to refocus.”
FULL TIME: Crystal Palace 0-2 Manchester United
United’s unbeaten run stretches to 19 matches. They weren’t at their best today, but ground out the victory nonetheless. Palace will argue that the crucial decisions went against them … but United were more clinical and classier in front of goal, and that was the real difference. United stay in fifth, but they’re right on Leicester City’s shoulder, and they’re a hell of a handful going forward. An exciting end to the season coming up!
90 min +11: Pogba thinks about a shot from 25 yards but ponders too long and is closed down.
90 min +10: “I was an early VAR supporter and defender,” begins Mary Waltz. “I also thought Brexit and Trump would lose. I say bin VAR.”
90 min +9: Martial tears down the inside left and enters the box. Dann toe-pokes away. Martial then goes over, asking for a penalty, but the referee waves play on.
90 min +8: Martial dribbles down the left and reaches the byline. He fires towards Lingard at the near post. There’s some pinball, and Sakho is forced to hack off the line. That would have been a farcical goal.
90 min +7: Fernandes whips the free kick towards the bottom left, but only ripples the side netting.
90 min +6: Rashford and Zaha tangle. Rashford grabs Zaha’s leg and refuses to put it down, but is awarded the free kick. Zaha is furious and it nearly kicks off between him and Pogba. The referee calms everything down quickly enough.
90 min +5: Fernandes is named man-of-the-match by Glenn Hoddle on BT Sport. And this on a comparative off-day. A properly transformative signing.
90 min +4: Maguire wins yet another header from a corner. Yet again he slaps it off target.
90 min +3: The referee acts now, though, as he shows Milivojevic a yellow card for arguing the toss a bit too forcefully. When the game restarts, Rashford tries a curler towards the top right. Guaita tips it over.
90 min +2: Lindelof knocks Ayew to the ground. Ayew screams and demands a free kick, but nothing’s forthcoming.
90 min +1: The first of 11 added minutes passes by without incident.
90 min: So now they go fairly direct, Dann sending a long pass down the inside right. Zaha spins Lindelof and races to the United box. He flashes a shot towards the bottom right. De Gea manages to turn it away for a corner that leads to nothing. Magnificent save.
89 min: Palace are enjoying a lot of possession right now … but only in their own half. Every time they probe upfield they’re forced to turn tail.
87 min: Fernandes has really come into his own in these late stages. From the left of the D, he curls a shot towards the bottom left. Guaita does well to anticipate and claim.
86 min: Mitchell throws Lingard a dummy with a crisp Cruyff Turn. Not a bad way to introduce yourself to a match.
84 min: Palace send on two subs, replacing the stricken Van Aanholt and McCarthy with Riedewald and Mitchell.
82 min: Van Aanholt was Palace’s last-minute hero at Old Trafford earlier this season. Now he’s wheeled off in severe pain. Here’s to a quick recovery.
80 min: As Martial slotted home, he accidentally came together with Van Aanholt, who flipped over his back and landed awkwardly. Not sure whether he’s damaged his wrist, elbow or shoulder, but it’s a serious one because the stretcher is on and he’s been given oxygen.
GOAL! Crystal Palace 0-2 Manchester United (Martial 78)
Fernandes flicks the ball infield from the left. Rashford knocks a first-time pass down the channel for Martial, who strides into the box and slams a glorious drive into the bottom right.
76 min: United have steadied the ship now. Palace aren’t carrying the same threat now. Here’s Mark Childs: “After that VAR decision, I was curious and found this EPL page that explained the lines are drawn from one of five cameras. So, Ayew’s offside was obviously not a ‘clear and obvious’ error and the line was drawn from a camera placed about 8 yards away from the actual offside line. Absurd. Also, I think VAR should have given Palace a penalty for that Lindelof challenge in the first half. I’m a United fan.”
74 min: Rashford skedaddles down the left and pulls back for … Fernandes. And you can’t keep a good man down. He takes a first-time smack towards the bottom left, totally foxing Guaita with a fine strike … but the ball caroms off the base of the post and away. So unlucky!
73 min: Schlupp comes on for McArthur, and is quickly in the thick of it, dragging a shot wide right from distance.
72 min: Fernandes attempts a curler towards the bottom left. It’s always sailing wide. He’s been quiet tonight, Fernandes, verging on poor by his own stellar standards … and yet he’s still got an assist to his name. He’s some player. What a signing.
70 min: We go again. “I completely agree about VAR, pretty much a disaster from the start of the season,” begins David Wall. “Given that, and I imagine a large majority of supporters, players, managers, etc agree, why is no one seriously considering just scrapping it from the end of the season? All I’ve heard is that now it’s here we have to just live with it and hope it gets better. But that didn’t apply to things that actually were beneficial (or would have been if they’d been applied for more than about two weeks), like the vanishing spray to mark where the wall should be, moving a free-kick forward if there was dissent, the Zenith Data Systems Cup, or the Anglo-Italian Cup. They went almost as soon as they appeared. Well, perhaps not the last one.”
69 min: As the players imbibe, Roy Hodgson takes a good old pop at the referee. Whatever could be on his mind?
67 min: Palace haven’t let their heads drop, to their great credit. They ping it this way and that, then Ayew tries to spin Maguire just inside the box. He tries to curl a pass around the corner to release Zaha, but the ball flies out for a goal kick. And that’s drinks.
65 min: Maguire is booked for a cynical tug at Ayew. “As a United fan, I can today speak against VAR without suffering accusations of bias,” writes Matt Richman from atop the high ground. “I hate it. That was scarcely an inch offside, to all human observers level, and was deserved.”
64 min: Zaha comes in from the right and curls a pass towards McArthur, in plenty of space to the left of the United D. He enters the box and should have a dig, but tries to thread a pass across to Ayew at the far post, and gets it all wrong.
63 min: United finally get Matic and Lingard on. They replace McTominay and Greenwood.
62 min: Martial breezes down the inside-left channel and feeds Rashford on the overlap. Rashford slams a low diagonal shot towards the bottom right, but Guaita is behind it all the way.
60 min: But play goes on before they can make their swap, and McCarthy takes a shot from the edge of the United D. He really catches it sweetly, but it’s straight at De Gea, who handles well.
59 min: United prepare to make a double change. Matic and Lingard – who scored the winner against Palace in the 2016 FA Cup final – wait on the touchline.
57 min: That’s a huge let-off for United, who haven’t really got going in this second half. Will that close shave wake them from their slumber?
NO GOAL! Crystal Palace 0-1 Manchester United
Turns out Ayew didn’t cut his toenails last night, and the goal is chalked off. A couple of millimetres in it. It’s not Palace’s night with the old VAR.
GOAL! Crystal Palace 1-1 Manchester United (Ayew 55)
This had been coming. Zaha twists Wan-Bissaka this way and that as he enters the box on the left. He fires towards the far post, where Ayew slides home. Easy as that!
53 min: Van Aanholt makes good down the inside left and tries to instigate a one-two with Zaha. Had he been given a return ball, he’d have been clear on goal. But Zaha decides to take over himself, and looks to curl into the top right. Maguire blocks.
52 min: Van Aanholt glides in from the left and takes a shot. It ping-pongs off a few bodies before nearly dropping at the feet of Zaha. Not quite, though. Lindelof and Maguire are in position to sort it all out.
50 min: Ward clumsily clanks McTominay to the ground out on the left. Fernandes flicks the free kick into the mixer. It skims off Milivojevic’s head, but doesn’t fall to anyone in gold, and Sakho is able to clear.
49 min: Martial burns past Sakho on the left and wins a corner. Fernandes gets two goes, but neither delivery beats the first man. Palace clear the second corner.
47 min: United will be looking to improve on their first-half performance, scoreline notwithstanding. They impose themselves with some calm possession in their own half.
It’s the second half! Palace get the ball rolling again. No half-time changes.
BT Sport have shown another angle of the Zaha-Lindelof incident. Lindelof did indeed touch the ball, but only after connecting with Zaha’s heel. Pundits Robbie Savage and Rio Ferdinand agree that it should have been a penalty. Palace will feel fairly aggrieved at that, then, especially as United went on to score the opener a couple of minutes later. The old sliding doors opening and closing like billy-o there. But whatever the rights and wrongs are of that particular decision, we can surely all agree on one thing: VAR has been a risible fiasco from the get-go, hasn’t it.
Half-time entertainment. For your aural leisure and pleasure.
HALF TIME: Crystal Palace 0-1 Manchester United
The half-time whistle goes just as the game really got going. United lead thanks to Rashford’s calm, controlled, measured finish. Two minutes before the net rippled, Zaha and Lindelof came together in the box, but replays suggest the United defender got a touch, which was why the referee wasn’t interested. And so here we are. It’s been a good game, and the second half promises to be a lot of fun. No flipping!
45 min +4: Milivojevic curls towards the top left. It’s going in, and De Gea does extremely well to claw it out for a corner. Nothing comes of the set piece.
45 min +3: Townsend has a smash. Maguire bravely gets in the road. Then Greenwood shoves Zaha over, just to the left of the United box. A free kick in an extremely interesting position.
GOAL! Crystal Palace 0-1 Manchester United (Rashford 45+1)
In the first of four extra minutes, Fernandes drops back and dinks a gentle ball down the middle for Rashford, who enters the box, takes a touch to the left, drops a shoulder to sit Van Aanholt down, and passes the ball into the bottom right. What a gorgeous finish!
45 min: But the ball doesn’t go out of play. Wan-Bissaka fires a low cross through the Palace box. It misses everyone. But United come straight back at Palace, and …
44 min: Milivojevic slips a pass down the inside-left channel for Zaha, who proceeds to turn Lindelof inside and out, like an old sock. Zaha enters the area. There’s contact, and Zaha goes down. But the referee isn’t interested in giving a penalty. VAR may take a second look when the ball goes out of play.
42 min: Fernandes threads a low shot inches wide of the left-hand post. Both goals are living a slightly charmed life at the minute.