Saturday 26 May 2018

'Football is crazy' claims relieved Van Gaal as De Gea comes to rescue again

C Palace 1 Man United 2

Marouane Fellaini heads the winning goal into the Crystal Palace net
Marouane Fellaini heads the winning goal into the Crystal Palace net
Crystal Palace's Jason Puncheon scores their goal from a free-kick past David De Gea
Manchester United's Juan Mata scores their first goal from the penalty spot Newsdesk Newsdesk

"Football is crazy" was manager Louis van Gaal's frank assessment after Manchester United rode their luck at Crystal Palace to bring their losing streak to a timely end.

Defeats to Chelsea, Everton and West Brom saw the Red Devils arrive in south London looking to avoid a run of four straight losses in the same season for the first time since 1961. There were moments when it looked like that may well happen, especially after Jason Puncheon cancelled out Juan Mata's dubious penalty with a second-half free-kick.

However, United saw out the storm - thanks in no small part to goalkeeper David de Gea's fine display - and snatched a victory, with Marouane Fellaini capitalising on a collision between Julian Speroni and Damien Delaney to head home the winner.

"Football is crazy," Van Gaal said, following United's fortuitous win.

"When you see how we have played against Chelsea, Everton and West Bromwich Albion and you compare it with today, in that row of matches this was not our best match. But you win and that is also the beauty of football

"What I have seen today is a fighting spirit of my team and that I have said to my players, 'When you fight like you have fought today, we are difficult to beat'.

De Gea deserves a lot of credit if they return to the top table of European football, and at Selhurst Park the Spaniard underlined his position as one of the best goalkeepers around.

"He made a great save at the most important moment," Van Gaal said, referring to an exceptional stop to deny Glenn Murray.

"At that time Crystal Palace could score the second goal and then it shall be very difficult for us to come again in the match."

Palace did well to get themselves into that position after falling behind to Mata's early penalty - a decision which frustrated Palace boss Alan Pardew.

Pardew did not want to come across as a "moaning minnie", but thought the handball was harsh on Scott Dann, while he felt Radamel Falcao pushed Delaney in the build-up to Fellaini's winner.

"Well, I am a bit aggrieved about the penalty, obviously," Pardew said. "I think from the referee's angle that's a real tough call on us.

"Scotty Dann does gesture with his body, but he is away from the referee and the referee's angle can't be sure that's hit his arm.

"I asked him that after and he said he just went with his gut feeling that it was a penalty, but after the players' reaction and seeing it on VT [video tape] I think that was a really tough call."

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