Manchester United were denied a tenth straight victory in all competitions as Michael Olise’s stoppage time screamer cancelled out Bruno Fernandes’ first half opener in a scrappy 1-1 draw at Selhurst Park on Wednesday night.
Whilst neither team grabbed a foothold in the game in the first half, United were edging the proceedings and the visitors found themselves ahead in the 43rd minute when Christian Eriksen found the space to find Fernandes from the left-hand side before the latter curled the ball beyond Vicente Guaita from inside the area.
As the second half played out, United looked comfortable to grind it out with just the one goal, and never really looked under too much pressure for large parts of the half; Alejandro Garnacho, Scott McTominay and Fred all came on to freshen the side up, with McTominay having a penalty shout waved away by VAR not long after his introduction.Embed from Getty Images
The Red Devils were sloppy, however, and Olise’s 91st minute free-kick seemed like bad karma for some lacklustre forward play. Olise could not have hit the ball any sweeter from the right-hand side, with the United players and Ten Hag alike looking completely shellshocked as the home crowd erupted.
Both sides had a chance to win it in the short amount of time left at the end, with Casemiro inches away from converting from a corner and Wilfred Zaha denied incredibly by a trademark Aaron Wan-Bissaka sliding challenge on the last line of defence in the final moments.
The draw will feel like a defeat for United, who will be without Casemiro for Sunday’s trip to Arsenal after the Brazilian midfielder picked up a fifth yellow card of the season.
Final Score: Crystal Palace 1-1 Manchester United (Olise 90+1’) (Fernandes 43’)
Man of the matchEmbed from Getty Images
Many Reds fans will have thought Wan-Bissaka would have been playing for Crystal Palace by now a few weeks back, but the Englishman put in a stellar showing against his old club and proved his use and abilities once more to Ten Hag on Wednesday night.
United were largely sloppy across the course of the match, and Wan-Bissaka himself was susceptible to the odd bad pass, but the 25-year-old gave Zaha no joy on their side of the pitch and saved his team from a devastating defeat with an unbelievable last-ditch tackle deep into stoppage time.
Alongside Luke Shaw, he was strong at fullback against The Eagles, and there can be no complaints about his performance in Diogo Dalot’s absence through injury.
His showing will go under the radar given the disappointment of the draw, but had United held on for the win, the performance would be lauded and rightfully so.
The bigger picture
The draw is nothing short of a crushing blow for Ten Hag, the players and the supporters. To have won nine games on the bounce and then concede an absolute thunderbolt of a free-kick in stoppage time and be denied a tenth is soul-destroying, especially given the fact United had held on comfortably for so long down South.
The team could have gone 2nd in the league table with a win, but now find themselves 3rd, one point above Newcastle (4th) and level with Manchester City (2nd), but the latter do have a game in hand on United to play tomorrow against Spurs.
Marcus Rashford never got the goal he will have craved and his formidable scoring streak has sadly come to an end.Embed from Getty Images
It was a quiet debut for Wout Weghorst; the 6ft 6in striker was thrown in at the deep end in the absence of injured Anthony Martial, but the Dutchman was limited to just the one chance across the 69 minutes he was on the pitch, and it was a tough one to take on his head in the first half. His build-up play looked sharp and effective, though, and he looks like he will grow into the role well with more games.
With that being said, these things happen in football, and it is about getting the mentality right for the Arsenal clash at the weekend. The Reds will be without Casemiro, disappointingly, due to the 30-year-old picking up a reckless yellow card to deny Zaha a golden opportunity to score.
The result probably humbles the intense expectations surrounding United in the media at the moment, but there is no need for the team to stop pushing and Ten Hag will be telling his deflated players just that you would hope.
What is next?
Next up for Ten Hag and United is Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium this Sunday, 22nd January, in the Premier League at 16:30 (BST). After that, it is a midweek clash against Nottingham Forest, away at The City Ground in the Carabao Cup semi-finals on Wednesday 25th January at 20:00 (BST).