Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson hailed a “heroic victory” after his side stunned Manchester United with an injury-time winner to record their first victory at Old Trafford since 1989.
Full-back Patrick van Aanholt netted in the 93rd minute, thumping in as the ball broke loose following Wilfried Zaha’s burst forward.
Daniel James thought he had rescued a point for United when he curled in a delightful equaliser in the 89th minute following neat build-up from Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial.
But Rashford will rue striking the post from the penalty spot earlier in the second period – the second spot-kick the Red Devils have missed this week after Paul Pogba had one saved in the 1-1 draw at Wolves on Monday.
Jordan Ayew had scored the opener in the first half against the run of play, latching on to Jeffrey Schlupp’s flick-on and coolly converting Palace’s first goal of the campaign, before the late drama.
Hodgson said: “It was hard work and the players showed incredible concentration on the tactics they were trying to employ. We kept Manchester United in front of us for very long periods.
“It was a long, hot afternoon and we had to accept our talented opponents would have more of the ball than us. We had to make certain that they did not play the passes to get the balls into the areas where they would punish us too severely. It was a heroic victory.”
Pogba received racist abuse on social media after his miss from the spot at Molineux.
United released a statement condemning the abuse, while fans brought an anti-racism flag into the stadium and sang “there’s only one Paul Pogba” to show they were behind the France midfielder.
However, the tweets that followed Rashford’s miss showed the issue remains, if from a nasty minority.
The England striker’s failure from the spot formed part of a bad day for United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
The club paid a collective £130m this summer for defenders Harry Maguire and Aaron Wan-Bissaka – but neither covered round the back of centre-back Victor Lindelof in the lead-up to Palace’s opener, so when the Swede lost out to Schlupp as the pair challenged for goalkeeper Vicente Guaita’s clearance, Ayew was able to race clear of the United defence and finish.
James was Solskjaer’s third summer signing. The Welshman is having an impact and his curling shot to equalise was a brilliant effort.
However, for the second game running, the winger was booked for diving – even if the decision from referee Paul Tierney looked harsh.
Hodgson added: “United are not stupid, they have a very experienced group of people looking after them and they will be aware of that.
“They will be surprised if teams are going to be coming here playing gung-ho football and flying at them and giving them the chance to counter-attack, because they have such pace and skill on the ball that would be a recipe for disaster for most teams.
“They have to come to terms with the fact that teams in the lower half of the league, if they are organised and disciplined and if they put up the fight like we did today they will be hard to breakdown.
“And if they are lucky with players on the field that can hurt them on the counter-attack, that is what they have to prepare for at Old Trafford for a long part of the season.”
It was a sweet day for Crystal Palace’s veteran defender Gary Cahill.
Playing at Old Trafford in the Premier League for his fourth different club, Cahill was celebrating his first win.
He made only two league appearances for Chelsea last season, so the 33-year-old could be forgiven an element of rustiness, although it was pure pace from Martial that caused the centre-back to drag the forward down as the hosts searched for a quick equaliser.
Cahill could easily have been sent off. Instead, he remained on the pitch and used his experience to steer Palace to an unexpected victory.
Eagles manager Hodgson is too experienced to get carried away by one game – but given his side were yet to score this season and had lost five of their past six visits to Old Trafford, the former England boss surely cannot have travelled with much confidence.
But they now sit level with United on points, and with Cahill easing himself in after his summer move from Chelsea, Hodgson could have one of the season’s best free transfers at their disposal.