Zaha gifts Crystal Palace 1-0 win over Man United on potential SE25 farewell
Wilfried Zaha gave the Crystal Palace fans a day to remember as his first-half strike was enough to see off Manchester United on Sunday afternoon.
Patrick Vieira’s exciting young squad will finish the campaign in 12th place which is an improvement on last season’s 14th. And the club has £4.4m reasons to smile as each place higher up the table guarantees a bonus of £2.2m.
Whether it was the Ivorian’s farewell present to the supporters remains to be seen as Palace could decide to cash in on the 29-year-old who still has a high market value and has not yet turned 30.
Not even incoming manager Erik ten Hag, in attendance today, could lift the level of performance of Man United bereft of Cristiano Ronaldo.
And the Portuguese’s absence cost them dear as they looked toothless in front of goal with Edinson Cavani, Scott McTominay and Bruno Fernandes all fluffing their lines. But it could have been worse as they still finish the campaign in 6th.
Because West Ham’s defeat in Brighton means that the Dutchman is still offered Europa League football next term.
Manchester United came close on several occasion to nick a goal but whether it was Vicente Guaita or a Palace defender standing in their way, they simply couldn’t shatter their resistance.
Only a couple of minutes into the game Bruno Fernandes slipped the ball through to Edinson Cavani who cut inside but took a touch too many and Palace's defence recovered. It was the Uruguay international’s last game for the club.
But on 14 minutes he almost almost scored with a scuffed shot but Guaita miraculously kept the ball out despite being wrong-footed.
On 25 minutes, Cavani released Anthony Elanga into space and the Swede surged forward at full speed before playing Bruno Fernandes in. But the Portuguese, who has had an afternoon to forget, came a split second too late to connect with it.
Zaha then forced De Gea into an outstanding low save before Jeffrey Schlupp shot straight at the Spaniard from Odsonne Edouard’s lay-off.
But it didn’t take long for Palace to take the lead. And who else if not Zaha to give Palace bragging rights over his old club?
The Ivorian capitalised on Fernandes’ poor back pass before cutting inside and rolling the ball home.
Conor Gallagher, potentially also on his farewell at Selhurst Park, then spurned a good chance after some outstanding footwork on the hour-mark.
De Gea, and it has become a recurring theme, saved his side from another embarrassment.
His fingertip save from Jesurun Rak-Sakyi’s shot kept the score at 1-0.
Then McTominay missed a glaring chance when he sent a free header straight at Guaita.
Palace held on and finished the season on a high. While for Man United the new era Made in the Netherlands can’t come too soon.
And ten Hag has a lot of work on his hands to salvage this sinking ship and make it a force again.