Manchester United lift 12th FA Cup to win first silverware in post-Sir Alex era

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©The Emirates FA Cup Facebook

Manchester United lift 12th FA Cup to win first silverware in post-Sir Alex era

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Amlan Majumdar

05/22/2016

Alan Pardew faced another FA Cup final heartbreak against Man United as Jesse Lingard's stunning winner gave the Red Devils a 2-1 win over Crystal Palace at Wembley on Saturday. Despite Chris Smalling's red card, United showed character to score the winner after the match ended 1-1 in normal time.

Crystal Palace starting XI: Wayne Hennessey (GK); Joel Ward, Scott Dann, Damien Delaney, Pape Souare; Yohan Cabaye, Mile Jedinak; Wilfried Zaha, James McArthur, Yannick Bolasie; Connor Wickham

Manchester United starting XI: David de Gea (GK); Antonio Valencia, Chris Smalling, Daley Blind, Marcos Rojo; Michael Carrick; Juan Mata, Marouane Fellaini, Wayne Rooney, Anthony Martial; Marcus Rashford

It has been 110 years since the formation of Crystal Palace football club and they are yet to win a major trophy in English football. The closest they came to do so was in 1990, when they reached the final of the FA Cup. It was Manchester United and an unlikely goal from their defender Lee Martin which spoiled their party back then and once again, it was the same club which stood in their way at Wembley on Saturday.

In 1990 Alan Pardew was a part of a five-man Crystal Palace midfield which lost to United and 26 years later he had the perfect opportunity to avenge that loss as a manager. Speaking of which, much like Alex Ferguson, who had his neck on the line during the 1990 FA Cup final after failing to win a trophy for three and a half years, Louis van Gaal came into this game with his future up for speculation as well.

The Dutchman was helped by the fact that Marcus Rojo, Matteo Darmian and Morgan Schneiderlin returned to the squad after a brief spells on the sidelines, while Marouane Fellaini was available again after serving his three-match ban. Alan Pardew also had a fully fit squad at his disposal, and he made seven changes to the side he fielded against Southampton in their final league game of the season.

Van Gaal, on the other hand, made just one change to his starting lineup with the young Jesse Lingard replaced by Fellaini.

As has been the norm of Van Gaal's men this season, United dominated possession from the start. The best chance of the first half fell to Martial, after some good work by Rashford on wing. The forward picked out the Frenchman with a cross, however, Martial's thumping effort was heroically blocked by Ward.

Neither of the teams succeeded in opening the scoring in the first half and at the start of the second half, United once again came close to taking the lead, this time through Fellaini. The midfielder hit the woodwork after Rashford picked him up with a lovely flick. Ten minutes later, it was Martial's turn to hit the post with a header, as Palace defended frantically to keep United at bay.

Jason Puncheon gave Crystal Palace the lead, against the run of play, in the 78th minute and sent the fans into a delirium. The goal arrived from a corner, which was initially defended by Fellaini. The midfielder's header reached Joel Ward near the halfway line, and United defenders quickly pushed up the pitch. However, the defender picked out the run of Puncheon with a lovely cross-field pass, and the 29-year-old beat De Gea with a thunderous shot at his near post, before Mata could close him down.

However, Mata made quick amends for his mistake by scoring the equalizer just three minutes after the restart. The goal was created by a determined and penetrating run by Wayne Rooney, who danced past a host of Palace players from the midfield, before delivery a cross at the far post. The ball was chested down by Fellaini and drilled in towards the goal by a sweet strike from Mata's left foot. The ball hit Ward on the line, before bundling into the net, amidst frantic celebrations from the United players.

Neither of the teams could produce the winner in the remaining for the 90 minutes, and the match headed into extra time. De Gea produced a fine save in the first half of the extra time to deny Bolasie, however, the half ended on a sour note for the Red Devils.

Chris Smalling received his second yellow card of the match when he brought down Bolasie in his attempt to stop the attacker from getting away in a counter attack. Palace came close to take advantage of their numerical advantage in the second half of the extra time when Gayle was put through on goal, and only a brilliant save from De Gea preserved United's clean sheet.

That save proved to be crucial as substitute Jesse Lingard produced a moment of magic few minutes later. Valencia broke down the right wing and drilled in a low cross into the box. The ball was initially cleared by Delaney, but it reached Lingard at the edge of the box on the bounce and the 23-year-old produced a volley to remember into the top corner of the Palace net to make it 2-1.

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