Man United wins FA Cup, beating Crystal Palace 2-1 after extra time

© Ian Kingston
Manchester United won their first piece of silverware since the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson, beating Crystal Palace 2-1 after extra time to claim the FA Cup at Wembley.

Jesse Lingard came off the bench to score the decisive strike, volleying home from inside the Eagles penalty box to avoid the game going to penalties.

In a replay of the 1990 cup final, United had the better of the first half, dominating possession with captain Wayne Rooney prevalent in a deeper midfield role.

Wayne Hennessy denied Juan Mata with a smart save low to his right, while Marouane Fellaini looked dangerous at Red Devils’ corners.

However, Palace played on the counterattack and boss Alan Pardew was visibly upset by referee Mark Clattenburg, who stopped the play on three occasions when an advantage could have been played to benefit the London team.

The first in particular, where the official stopped the game to book Chris Smalling after a foul on Connor Wickham, denied the Palace striker an opportunity to run into the United penalty box.

Fellaini went within a whisker of opening the scoring early in the second half, striking the top of Palace’s post with a venomous effort after a delightful flick by Marcus Rashford.

Anthony Martial followed suit, with the Frenchman’s header from an Antonio Valencia cross hitting the other post with Hennessy beaten.

Injuries to Marcos Rojo and Rashford soon after saw Matteo Darmian and Ashley Young introduced, with the latter deployed out of position as a centre forward.

Jason Puncheon came off the bench and gave his side the lead with less than 15 minutes remaining.

The substitute beat the offside trap after a cleared Palace corner, controlling the ball and smashing home past David De Gea from a tight angle.

United wasted little time in getting back level, with Mata striking hard and true from eight yards three minutes later after Fellaini controlled a Rooney cross on his chest, sending the game to extra time.

On the verge of half-time in extra time, Smalling was shown a second yellow card and sent to the stands after a last-ditch challenge on Yannick Bolasie, reducing the eventual victors to ten men.

De Gea denied Palace substitute Dwight Gayle early in the second half of extra time, saving with his feet, while Michael Carrick headed agonizingly wide soon after.

With ten minutes remaining Lingard sent the United faithful into rapture with an unstoppable volley, hammering home after a Palace clearance to win the game for the Red Devils.

Pardew’s men pushed forward looking for an equalizer, with Mile Jedinak firing just wide and De Gea dealing balls into his box before the final whistle.

Louis van Gaal’s position as United manager has been in doubt since the Old Trafford team’s league struggles this season, with a fifth-placed finish meaning the club has missed out on Champions League football.

However, the Dutchman leading the Red Devils to their first FA Cup title since 2004 has salvaged the club’s season to some extent, despite rumblings that he could be replaced by Jose Mourinho this summer.

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