Boos rang around Old Trafford as Manchester United stuttered to a goalless draw that made a mockery of Jose Mourinho’s aim to be inside the top four by New Year’s Day.
United struggled to create chances with Romelu Lukaku, now 11 games without a goal, and Jesse Lingard coming closest and Paul Pogba was hooked in the second half after a disappointing display.
At the other end, Palace – the lowest scorers in the Premier League bar Huddersfield – were denied by a brilliant double save from David De Gea and they, like United, had a goal disallowed for a close offside decision.
MATCH FACTS AND STATS
Manchester United (4-1-4-1): De Gea 7; Darmian 6.5, Smalling 6.5, Lindelof 5, Young 6.5; Matic 7; Mata 6.5 (Rashford 60), Pogba 5 (Sanchez 68 6), Lingard 6 (Fellaini 60 5.5), Martial 5.5; Lukaku 5.5
Subs not used: Grant, Jones, Fred, Valencia
Crystal Palace (4-4-2): Hennessey 6.5; Wan-Bissaka 6, Sakho 6, Tomkins 6, van Aanholt 6; Milivojevic 7.5, Kouyate 6.5, McArthur 7; Meyer 6.5, Townsend 6 (Schlupp 88), Zaha 7 (Ayew 90)
Subs not used: Guaita, Ward, Sorloth, Kelly,Puncheon
Booked: Milivojevic, Sakho
Referee: Lee Mason 7.5
Palace had failed to score in their previous five visits to Old Trafford but were able to include Wilfried Zaha against his former club. Zaha had returned early from international duty with Ivory Coast due to a knock.
Mourinho stated in his programme notes that United’s ambition was to finish the year in the top four – a tall order. But they began brightly enough with Jesse Lingard having a shot blocked and Anthony Martial denied by an alert Wayne Hennessey who came quickly from his goal.
As has been the pattern this season, United then faded without the boost of an early goal and Palace created good chances of their own.
Zaha was given plenty of room inside the United box and berated himself for shooting wide. And after 27 minutes, he picked out Patrick van Aanholt unmarked following a devastating Palace counter.
Perhaps adrenaline got the better of the Dutchman because when the ball arrived he completely fluffed his kick with his ‘wrong’ right foot.
You could hear the frustration at Old Trafford with United threatenng only occasionally. Chris Smalling headed Mata’s free-kick wide and then Hennessey mad a good double save from Lingard and Martial.