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Man United winning without playing particularly well a return to tradition

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After Manchester United defeated Crystal Palace 3-1 on Wednesday night at Selhurst Park, both managers agreed that United had been superior — and yet it was slightly difficult to pinpoint precisely what worked for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side.

Up front, Romelu Lukaku scored two goals, but his all-round performance was inconsistent, full of poor touches when trying to link with teammates. There was little combination play in the final third, with Alexis Sanchez again peripheral and Diogo Dalot too wide to link with his teammates. In midfield, Paul Pogba was impressive, but Fred and Scott McTominay still seemed uncertain of their positional responsibilities. Both full-backs looked ragged after half-time, and David De Gea’s distribution let him down after colliding with the post midway through the second half.china nike nfl jerseys cheap

But, yet again, United won. Two excellent finishes from Lukaku — the first a side-footed slot into the far corner after good work from Luke Shaw, the second an outstanding acrobatic effort after the ball broke loose from a corner — had put them into a commanding position. Joel Ward’s far-post header briefly made it a contest, before Ashley Young, pushed forward from right-back to right midfield for the final 15 minutes, converted from a narrow angle to confirm the victory.3

The expected goal figures reckoned Palace had created the better goal-scoring opportunities here, managing 1.9 xG to United’s 1.5, but it’s far from the first time this season the Eagles have squandered presentable opportunities and their opponents have taken them. Manchester United were the latest beneficiaries, winning without truly playing well — a mark of the old-school United that Solskjaer knows so much about.

“It was a little bit a means to an end because of the injuries we’ve got up front,” admitted Solskjaer of his decision to play Dalot, a right-back, on the right of midfield. “He played winger when he was younger at Porto, and he’s skilled going forward — and yes, Zaha and Van Aanholt are a good left side for Palace.”

Whereas Sanchez drifted inside from the left, Dalot never moved from the right flank, which meant Palace never had space to break into down that side. Young stayed in position, almost as a third centre-back when United had the ball, with Shaw given license to push forward, from where he assisted the opener.cheap nfl nike jerseys from china

In the centre, Pogba pushed forward at times, but was given little opportunity to combine with Sanchez and Lukaku, who simply don’t appear capable of linking play together, let alone bringing a third man into the equation. The goals came rather out of nothing; United had long periods of possession without breaking through Palace’s lines.

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