Manchester United bounced back from their loss to Liverpool prior to the international break with a 2-0 win over Crystal Palace at Old Trafford Saturday.
New signing Marouane Fellaini began his United career as a substitute, while it was the established Old Trafford stars, Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney, who scored the goals that secured the three points for United.
#MUFC played against a poor side but won... We will play better as the season goes on— Tariq Ahmed (@Tariq89) September 14, 2013
United made a bright opening, with Rooney—back in the fold after missing the international break on account of a head injury—teeing up Michael Carrick, who stung Julian Speroni’s hands with a swerving strike from 25 yards.
The first of a number of controversial moments arrived on 10 minutes as Patrice Evra drove onto a pass from van Persie and tumbled under a challenge, but the penalty appeals were waved away by referee Jon Moss.
Ashley Young was the next to attempt to win a penalty, but Moss deemed his fall in the box was a dive and pulled out a yellow card.
United huffed and puffed for 35 minutes but was a constant threat, with Rooney and Van Persie demonstrating this with some superb forward play.
Seeing van Persie pull off his marker, Rooney clipped a 30-yard pass into his strike partner’s path. Van Persie controlled the ball on his chest and unleashed a volley, but the ball crashed against the bar and over the top.
Palace carried little by way of an attacking threat for much of the first half, but they should have taken the lead on 41 minutes.
Dwight Gayle took a pass from Mile Jedinak in his stride and left Rio Ferdinand looking leaden-legged. Faced with David de Gea, Gayle dinked the ball over the keeper but it dribbled narrowly wide of goal.
And within a couple of minutes, Palace were made to rue not taking their chance. Again, there was controversy. Young broke away from the Palace back line, tumbled under a challenge and this time the penalty was awarded.
Referee Moss showed a red card to Kagisho Dikgacoi and to rub salt into the wounds, van Persie tucked home the penalty to give United the lead.
Just past the hour mark, David Moyes introduced Fellaini for his United debut. He went close with a strike from outside the box and also caused problems at a set piece, which created space for van Persie to go close.
He looks. He shoots. He scores. Sends his love to the crowd. Welcome back, Wayne Rooney. Manchester loves you.— Z (@7edhead) September 14, 2013
It took United some time to put the game to bed, but on 80 minutes Rooney did that with his first goal of the season—curling a free-kick up and over the wall and beyond Speroni.
Wayne Rooney: B+
He might have missed the international break on account of a head injury and was sporting a headband that may or may not have been borrowed from LeBron James, but he was in hot form.
The striker was involved in the vast majority of United’s attacking play. His pass for van Persie in the first half that resulted in the Dutchman crashing a shot against the bar was exquisite.
United were not at their best, but Rooney wasn’t far from his best and he got his goal the performance deserved when curling home a fine free-kick.
Robin van Persie: C
A rare mixed day for van Persie. He got his name on the scoresheet from the penalty spot, but he fluffed a couple of other chances.
He fired a shot against the bar after being teed up by Rooney, while earlier in the first half he scuffed a shot wide of target.
Marouane Fellaini: B
We only saw the United new recruit for half-an-hour, but it was a promising half-an-hour. Within minutes of being introduced as a substitute, he rifled a shot on goal that was well saved by Speroni.
His physical presence is sizeable and he pulled Palace defenders to him like a magnet at a corner, which created acres of space for van Persie who went close with a curler.
Marouane Fellaini completed 40 passes in 28 minutes when he came on in the second half. #MUFC— Manchester Utd News (@Mufc_Info) September 14, 2013
There’s sure to be more to come, but the first impression was positive.