Crystal Palace chief pinpoints key factor in nullifying Manchester United’s threat at Old Trafford

BY SAM SMITH

Roy Hodgson noted the importance of his Crystal Palace side not allowing Manchester United’s pacey attacking trio in behind their back four.

The Eagles limited the Red Devils to few very clear chances in their 3-1 victory at Old Trafford yesterday, earned largely thanks to a spectacular performance and brace by former United man Wilfried Zaha.

The hosts’ attacking three of Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Dan James were left frustrated by Palace’s deep back four – which left very little space behind to exploit. Mason Greenwood found a similar problem in the second half when he replaced James.

Hodgson said: “We made certain and kept them playing in front of us and they could not profit from those spaces they are skilful enough to find. We made that very difficult for them.

“It was important to show that we were coming here to play on the front-foot, not just to defend and let them do what they want with the ball. We were going to make sure it was going to be cut and thrust. If they’re good enough to keep the ball and not allow you to get hold of it, that’s another matter.

“We started in the right way and finished in the right way. A few times we let their central defenders come forward with the ball, but we weren’t too concerned about that. We were more concerned about them getting behind our back four, which they didn’t do.”

Andros Townsend opened the scoring in a dominant start by Hodgson’s side. Zaha then scored a penalty before Donny van de Beek pulled a goal back. The Ivorian then made certain of the three points by lashing in a third after turning past Victor Lindelof.

“When we had the ball I thought we looked very dangerous and threatening so I don’t think it was a big surprise that we scored three because the opportunities were there for us,” Hodgson told the BBC. “It ticked all the boxes as far as I’m concerned.”


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