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United 1 Crystal Palace 2: Palace Rock The Theatre Of Dreams

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On a dreary night at Old Trafford, Championship side Crystal Palace pulled of arguably their biggest win in the last decade as a second-string Manchester United side withered to a surprising Carling Cup quarter-final extra-time defeat.

Amazingly it was the first time Palace’s manager Dougie Freedman had tasted victory over United. In the build-up to the game Freedman had remained quietly confident that his team could pull of an upset. However even with Sir Alex selecting a second-string, it was still a strong team including the likes of Jonny Evans (who was captaining the club for the first time), Chris Smalling, Antonio Valencia, Park Ji-Sung and Dimitar Berbatov.

Sadly both teams failed to come out at all for the first half with neither goalkeeper being called into action. The visitors had two early penalty shouts but referee Chris Foy waved them both away much to the frustration of Palace’s away fans up in the East Stand. The one shining light of the dour first half was Wilfried Zaha who lived up to his reputation as a talent.

The forward caused Fabio problems and impressed with some silky turns and flicks which brought his teammates into play. Fabio endured a wretched half and pulled up injured just before in the interval with Ezekiel Fryers coming on to replace him. Sean Scannel also caught the eye for Palace but he too went of injured seconds before the break.

To the shock of everyone inside Old Trafford, Berbatov failed to come on for the second-half with Ravel Morrison coming onto replace him. The young starlet has impressed many fans due to his blistering form in the club’s reserve and youth teams and after Valencia saw a shot go inches past the post after a good save by Lewis Price, Morrison came close with a low shot in the area which Palace’s keeper did well to save.

Shortly after Paul Pogba was brought on for the injured Rafael, Palace took the lead with one of the finest goals you’re see all season. Good play in midfield from the visitors saw Zaha play the ball to substitute Darren Ambrose who let fly from 35 yards with the ball flying into the top left corner of the net before Ben Amos could even get near it. It was a scorcher!

United immediately hit back and equalised shortly after Pogba went close seeing a shot deflected narrowly wide from long distance. Good play by Valencia down his wing saw the ball crossed into the area. Mame Diouf couldn’t control the ball well enough to shoot himself and played the ball out to Federico Macheda who in trying to turn Palace’s captain Paddy McCarthy was dragged down. It was a clear penalty and one the young Italian dispatched easily sending Price in goal the wrong way.

Despite both teams pressing for a late winner, the game went to extra time and on 98 minutes the visitors went ahead. Zaha did well to win a free-kick out wide buying a foul from Park which Ambrose whipped in for Glenn Murray to head home past Amos from close range. The former Brighton forward looked offside in the build up to the goal, but United’s players couldn’t moan about conceding the goal and had to get on with finding a second equaliser on the night.

Palace to their credit held on as United despite wave upon wave of pressure failed to create a clear-cut chance on goal. Whilst last night was a disappointing result for the team, there’s no doubt that United need to win league games right now and a win away to Aston Villa on Saturday should more than make up for what was a dire performance to say the least. Let’s just move on and forget it ever happened.

United: Amos, Fabio (Fryers), Evans, Smalling, Rafael (Pogba), Diouf, Gibson, Park, Valencia, Macheda, Berbatov (Morrison)

Star Man

Wilfred Zaha lived up to his reputation as a talent with an outstanding display which was even more the surprising considering the forward is still only 19. He worked his socks off all night and even when it looked like he had no energy left to give was still tracking back and pressing United’s defence when they had the ball. Expect to see him snapped up by a Premier League club in January as the kid’s got talent.

By Adam Dennehey @ADennehey87