Lingard fires United to FA Cup glory

Crystal Palace 1-2 Manchester United (AET)

It took Manchester United 110 minutes to take the lead in today’s FA Cup final. It was  youngster Jesse Lingard who came off the bench to score a sublime winner sending United fans into pure ecstasy.

The game began tentatively with both sides exchanging chances. Juan Mata forced Wayne Hennessey into action on one occasion but the Welshman dealt with the strike. Marouane Fellaini was the target man for most of United’s corners and headed wide far too often.

Fellaini laments a wasted chance.
Fellaini laments a wasted chance.

The biggest talking point of the first half came from referee Mark Clattenburg’s questionable decisions. Palace striker Conor Wickham wrestled with United’s center-back Chris Smalling. Wickham was fouled by Smalling but the forward continued his run into the box finishing past David De Gae. Clattenburg however brought play back to the foul, yellow carding Smalling and ruling out the goal. Later on in the half Joel Ward thundered forward for Palace. He was pulled back by Rojo who was clearly struggling. With the wing opening up for him Palace were almost certain to find a goal scoring opportunity. Yet again the whistle peeped and Palace found themselves with a free kick.

Conor Wickham progressed from this position before Clattenburg halted play.
Conor Wickham progressed from this position before Clattenburg halted play.

The first half saw Crystal Palace play  their counter attacking football while United opted for patient build up play. Such play saw Marcus Rashford roll the ball across the box to Anthony Martial. The Frenchman’s strike was blocked well by Ward. Goalless at halftime the game was poised on a knife-edge.

The second half began much the same. Fellaini thundered a volley off the upright but the action was mostly shadow boxing. 12 minutes from time Crystal Palace substitute Jason Puncheon broke the deadlock. As the ball spilled from a corner award lofted a ball towards the far post. Puncheon checked his run before firing the ball into the roof of the United net sending certain sections of Wembley into hysterics.

Crystal Palace players celebrate Puncheon's strike.
Crystal Palace players celebrate Puncheon’s strike.

Three minutes was how long it took United to find the equalizer. A piece of skill from Rooney saw the captain cross the ball to the back post where Fellaini’s knockdown was slotted home by Juan Mata.With the sides level extra time would decide the match.

Juan Mata celebrates his equaliser.
Juan Mata celebrates his equalizer.

The first half of extra time saw chances few and far between. The biggest moment was Chris Smalling’s second yellow card which saw him sent off in the dying seconds of the first period. Palace nearly pounced on their numerical advantage when Dwight Gayle found himself in one on one with De Gea. The Spaniard saved well and kept his team alive. Michael Carrick nearly won it for United but his glancing header went just wide of the post.

With 10 minutes left Antonio Valencia crossed into the Palace box. Fellaini failed to control the ball but it broke to Jesse Lingard. The youngster hit the ball on the volley straight into the far corner of Wayne Hennesey’s net. The keeper was rooted to the spot. Palace searched in vain for an equalizer but it wasn’t to be. United were once again FA Cup champions while Crystal Palace’s wait for a major trophy continues.

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