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Lingard lashes in Wembley winner as Man Utd edge Palace in FA Cup final

| 22.05.2016

Holly Thackeray | May 21, 2016

Crystal Palace 1-2 Manchester United (AET)

  • Palace denied two chances in first-half as play not allowed to run on
  • First 45 at Wembley finished in stalemate
  • Rashford substituted with knee injury
  • Super sub Puncheon put Palace ahead in 78th min
  • Mata equalised a minute later
  • Normal time ended evenly at 1-1 forcing extra half hour
  • Smalling fourth man to be sent of in an FA Cup final after Bolasie tackle
  • Lingard volley stuns Eagles despite being man light
  • Man Utd level as all-time FA Cup winners with Arsenal

Red Devils lift 12th FA Cup title

After lots of late drama, it was eventually Manchester United that lifted the 135th FA Cup, defeating a battling Crystal Palace 2-1 in extra time to go level with Arsenal on 12 for most victories in the lauded competition.

There were comparisons with the 1990 final between these two teams galore, though it took 78 minutes for this match to live up to that 3-3 thriller, with echoes from history as super sub Jason Puncheon gave Palace the lead. Though Juan Mata made proceedings level seconds later to dash Eagles aspirations and ensure extra-time.

Chris Smalling was sent off to hand the Eagles a numerical advantage, but it was homegrown hero Jesse Lingard who made history with a superb strike to ensure United (7/1 with Coral to win the 2016/17 Premier League) ended the season with silverware.

Eagles advantage denied

It was a fairly cautious start to the showpiece, in contrast to the sparkling showbiz build-up that saw Sir Alex Ferguson and Steve Coppell carry out the trophy, with Crystal Palace backed by passionate support and seemingly keen to allow United possession while keeping them contained.

The Red Devils did break through due to a few early forays, winning several set-pieces, but Palace mostly had their measure, with Pape Souare notably denying young Marcus Rashford sight of goal after the striking starlet was squeezed the ball by mischievous Mata.

Then, 16 minutes in, the Eagles saw a potential advantage ruled out as Damien Delaney released rampant Connor Wickham from deep midfield, the striker running straight at Smalling who collided with the Palace poacher on the edge of the area in somewhat of a wrestling match.

Britain English FA Cup

The referee’s decision whether to award a foul to the Eagles was agonisingly delayed, allowing Wickham to dance through the box and dispatch by the time play was stopped and a free-kick given.

Following that contentious call, Yohan Cabaye came within inches of converting his set-piece after unleashing a venomous curler that crashed off the crossbar much to goal guard David de Gea’s relief.

Suddenly the clash came alive, with Mata and Anthony Martial in particular pushing back at the Palace defence, while Maroaune Fellaini narrowly flashed a header wide of Wayne Hennessey’s right post thanks to the intense attentions of Mile Jedinak, who appeared stuck to his side like glue.

Palace pressure increases, Rashford refreshing

Wickham looked a real threat as the Englishman took a nice touch after escaping Michael Carrick but also slashed his shot wide, while former Manchester United man Wilfried Zaha began to pump a few promising deliveries into the Red Devils box.

Though Alan Pardew’s side soon had Joel Ward to thank for staying level, as Rashford picked up possession and ran daringly toward the Eagles rearguard, picking out Anthony Martial expertly, but the France forward saw his strike deflected by dedicated defender Ward as the Eagles rearguard continued to resist.

Crystal Palace v Manchester United - Emirates FA Cup - Final - Wembley Stadium

Palace were off the hook, but it was time for Man Utd fans’ heart in mouth moment, as Daley Blind allowed Zaha to barge him off the ball after a poor pass from striker-turned-playmaker Wayne Rooney, though the captain furiously ran back to tackle his former teammate in the box.

The Eagles were also rightly enraged again, as referee Mark Clattenburg hastily hauled back onrushing Ward who was clear though to race at goal, after Marcos Rojo was cautioned for clinging to his fellow full back, instead of playing the advantage. It’s decisions like those that can change a game, and Palace must have been wondering if it just wasn’t their day.

Fine margins for Fellaini

Belgium bruiser Fellaini came within inches of being the catalyst of an explosive start to the second-half, after Rashford intuitively flicked the ball to his big Belgian clubmate, but the midfield battering ram’s striker-esque effort fell foul of the cross-bar by a millimeter.

Crystal Palace v Manchester United - The Emirates FA Cup Final - Wembley Stadium

Rampaging right back Antonio Valencia took matters into his own hands, pouring forward to clip in a cross that Martial met side one, his header again another chance to be denied by the woodwork. Yannick Bolasie then seized the chance to counter, but Zaha’s slip in the box meant the winger’s deceptive low ball went to waste.

In a blow to Man Utd’s attack, academy sensation Rashford was substituted with a knee injury around the 71st minute mark after a collision with Zaha, with Ashley Young arriving to replace his fellow Englishman.

Sucker-Puncheon for Palace

Palace also made a switch, and it appeared to prove crucial. Puncheon was called upon in a reshuffle for Cabaye, brought on for his graft, though it was his guile that made the difference.

Britain Soccer FA Cup Final

After taking a corner, Puncheon spread the ball out to Ward, receiving the return with aplomb before cutting in to blast past De Gea from a tight angle. There was delirium at Wembley, though the celebrations were not to last long.

Left out of the Spain Euro 2016 squad, it was a slice of magic from Mata, who was due to be substituted, that saw United level almost instantly. After great work and a pinpoint cross from Rooney on the right, Mata pounced on Fellaini’s knock-down and dispatched delightfully to equalise. Now spectators had a real FA Cup final on their hands!

Crystal Palace v Manchester United - Emirates FA Cup - Final - Wembley Stadium

Zaha soon had a chance to win it late on, but failed to connect with a superb delivery from Souare down the left, before also blasting into the side netting after beating Smalling in an increasingly frantic finish as normal time ticked down.

Smalling sees red in extra-time aggro

Zaha had a penalty shout waved away early in extra-time, while Bolasie struck a venomous volley from outside the area, forcing diving De Gea to tip tremendously around the post. The wily wideman’s moves eventually saw United down to 10 men as usually sturdy Smalling saw a second yellow and was swiftly sent off for an early shower after brazenly hauling the 26-year-old down to the turf.

Crystal Palace v Manchester United - Emirates FA Cup - Final - Wembley Stadium

Local lad Lingard grabs late winner

The Eagles were then on the assault, as Dwight Gayle called De Gea into action, the pressure increasing on stumbling Premier League giants Man Utd, with Carrick heading his chance amazingly wide at the other end.

Though Palace’s bubble was soon burst, and the possibility of penalties extinguished, as local lad and Man Utd academy graduate Lingard lashed home a lethal volley deep in the second-half of extra-time to hand his boyhood club to coveted silverware.

Crystal Palace v Manchester United - Emirates FA Cup - Final - Wembley Stadium

Valencia’s burst down the flank and cross, allowed Martial to nudge the ball back to substitute Lingard whose unleashed a blistering first-time shot past helpless Hennessey. It is said that the 1990 FA Cup final victory saved Ferguson’s United career – will it do the same for Louis van Gaal?


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Holly Thackeray

Holly is a member of the content team, and can often be found on the sports desk writing about favourite topics Serie A and East Asian footballing nations. A recent darts convert, she is also a fully-fledged member of Barney's Army and a proud Leeds-born Manchester United fan.