Crystal Palace vs. Manchester United: Players, Coaches React After FA Cup Final – Bleacher Report

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Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal hailed his side’s performance as they won the FA Cup with a 2-1 extra-time victory over Crystal Palace at Wembley on Saturday.

Jason Puncheon scored five minutes after coming on in the second period with a fine close-range strike before Juan Mata equalised just three minutes later to force additional time.

Chris Smalling was sent off in the first period of extra time, but Jesse Lingard won the tie for United as he crashed in a terrific volley with 10 minutes left to play.

Experienced Dutch boss Van Gaal praised his team’s display in difficult circumstances, as he made some history of his own.  

“It is fantastic to win this title for the club, for the fans, and also for me because I now have won the cup in four countries, and not many managers have done that,” he told the BBC.

“With 10 players, and we have played Tuesday evening also, but we have deserved it I think. It was a super goal, eh?”

Tim Ireland/Associated Press

Club captain Wayne Rooney, who played a key role in United’s late winner told the BBC that lifting trophies would help the club after a difficult period:

A great advert for the Premier League, credit to Crystal Palace they’ve had a tough end to the season, but we worked really hard and our determination has got us through. I’m delighted. It’s a special moment. It’s a competition I have loved watching as a fan growing up, I’ve been to two finals and lost, so I will enjoy it tonight for sure. 

Look at the fans, winning trophies lifts football clubs. The fans have had a tough two years but hopefully they will enjoy tonight.

Match winner Mata said the cup success should be seen as payback to the fans after a season in which United failed to secure UEFA Champions League qualification after finishing fifth. He told the BBC:

It’s more difficult when you are watching from the bench in the final but we never gave up and fought until the end. It’s been a tough season but we finish with good news for the fans.

It was a great goal from Jesse. Today is a day to enjoy, especially for the fans as they have had a difficult year.

Tim Ireland/Associated Press

Connor Wickham had the ball in the back of the United net on 18 minutes, but the goal was ruled out, and defender Smalling was shown a yellow card with the whistle having already been blown earlier in the move. Referee Mark Clattenburg had the opportunity to play advantage with Wickham maintaining possession after falling to ground, but the move was eventually called back for a free-kick.  

Kirsty Wigglesworth/Associated Press

Mata brought Palace goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey into action after four minutes later with a curling effort, which the Welshman did well to turn away from goal with two strong hands to tip his effort around the post.

Moments later, Marouane Fellaini flashed a header over the bar from Mata’s in-swinging corner, beating his marker to the ball but failing to hit the target with a well-met leap.

Anthony Martial piled further pressure on the Palace back line on the half-hour mark and went closest to breaking the deadlock following a fine run and cross from Marcus Rashford down the right wing. With Hennessey stranded out of goal, the France international saw Joel Ward block his effort on goal to keep his side from falling behind in the final. 

United continued their pursuit to find an opener following the half-time interval. Just eight minutes after the restart, Belgium international Fellaini lashed a shot against the crossbar following a sumptuous layoff from Rashford.

Palace, who were finally beginning to look comfortable in possession after limited ball retention early on, got a chance of their own in the second period. However, Mile Jedinak‘s was unable to sort his feet and saw his volley fly over the bar.

United hit the woodwork again on the hour mark. This time it was Martial who went close with a brilliant header across goal that left Hennessey flat-footed, but the Frenchman saw his effort rebound away from danger.

Kirsty Wigglesworth/Associated Press

Against the run of play, Palace took the lead through substitute Jason Puncheon, who had only been on the field for five minutes. A lovely weighed pass back into the danger area by Jedinak was well controlled by the former Southampton attacker, who took one touch to set himself before crashing a powerful effort past David de Gea at the near post.

But Palace’s celebrations would be cut short just three minutes later as Mata found the back of the net for United. A sublime dribble through the Palace defence by Rooney finally saw the England captain lift a floated cross to the back post for Fellaini to chest down to his Spanish team-mate to tuck in.

Neither side were able to find a breakthrough in the regulation period, and the match was forced into extra time.

Kirsty Wigglesworth/Associated Press

With little action on goal during the additional passage, it was left to United captain Smalling to change the face of the game as he was shown a second yellow card after bringing down Yannick Bolasie inside the Eagles’ half. 

With 10 minutes remaining, Lingard won the cup for United with a superb volley from the lip of the box. Antonio Valencia was fortunate to find space down the right wing before drilling a low ball into the crowded box. The ball rebounded out quickly to the 23-year-old, who immediately stuck a fine volley into the corner of the net.

Crystal Palace vs. Manchester United: Players, Coaches React After FA Cup Final – Bleacher Report