05-Mar-2018 22:07:57 | The Guardian
It said everything about the outlandish denouement to this contest that Nemanja Matic, such an improbable matchwinner, was still wearing a look of shock and disbelief as he pinched himself through his post-match interviews. The Serb had not scored for Manchester United since his summer arrival from Chelsea, so few would have envisaged him plucking a frenzied game’s decisive fifth goal as the ball looped to him well outside the penalty area. Yet, with the match deep into stoppage time and fatigue gripping, it was time for one last swing.
Luka Milivojevic, the Crystal Palace captain, edged tentatively forward as if to block but turned his back as his compatriot connected. Matic’s connection was true, the ball arcing viciously to swerve away from Wayne Hennessey and the goalkeeper’s footwork was hesitant as if he had been taken by surprise. By the time the ball billowed his net, despairing team-mates were already sinking to their haunches as Matic wheeled away in celebration. United, a team who had trailed by two just before the hour mark here and would not be spared scathing criticism by José Mourinho, will go into Saturday’s game with Liverpool above their rivals and restored to the top two.
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