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Premier League

  • November 8, 2014
  • • 10:00 AM
  • • Old Trafford, Manchester
  • Referee: C. Foy
  • • Attendance: 75325

Manchester United 1-0 Crystal Palace: Mata strike enough to see off lowly Palace

The Spain international needed just five minutes on the field before settling the affair at Old Trafford.

Juan Mata came off the bench to secure Manchester United’s first win in four Premier League matches with a 1-0 victory over Crystal Palace.

As in last weekend's loss to rival Manchester City, Spain international midfielder Mata began among the substitutes - but he staked his claim to be given a bigger role by firing a deflected winner in the 67th minute. 

Palace goalkeeper Julian Speroni might have done better than palming Mata's strike into his own net and Neil Warnock's men were also left to reflect on a glorious chance passed up by former United youngster Fraizer Campbell before halftime.

Marouane Fellaini had a header cleared off the line before Mata sent relief around Old Trafford and condemned Palace to a fifth consecutive game without victory - only goal difference keeping the side out of the bottom three.

A shoulder injury for Marcos Rojo and Chris Smalling's red card during the Manchester derby compounded Louis van Gaal's selection problems in defense. The United manager paired youngster Paddy McNair and Daley Blind at center back, with Michael Carrick taking the Netherlands international's customary midfield spot.

James McArthur replaced suspended Palace captain Mile Jedinak, while Jason Puncheon came in as winger Wilfried Zaha was ineligible against his parent club.

McArthur's midfield partner, Joe Ledley, was careless in possession in the second minute, allowing Adnan Januzaj - making a fourth consecutive United start - to cut inside and fire a left-footed effort narrowly over the crossbar.

Palace's defense comfortably repelled much of what the United attack threw at them, leaving home left back Luke Shaw to charge towards the massed ranks and see his shot narrowly tipped wide by Speroni in the 27th minute.

Rooney, largely subdued in his midfield role, side-footed wide from 20 yards in the 53rd minute after McNair had emulated Shaw by running at a deep-lying Palace defense.

United and Palace have both shown frailties defending set pieces this season and the visitors were almost undone when Fellaini's header from a Rooney corner was blocked on the line by McArthur.

The former Everton man was the target once more when he grappled with Damien Delaney to head over in the 62nd minute, immediately before United’s match-winner entered the fray.

Yannick Bolasie scuffed a volley from Puncheon's cross as Palace enjoyed a promising attacking but then Angel Di Maria passed to Mata and the playmaker's speculative shot evaded Speroni.

Mata clattered an 83rd-minute shot against the post before United closed out a triumph that lifts them to sixth in the table.