Ibrahimovic hits late Man Utd winner

Paul Pogba puts Manchester United ahead against Crystal Palace

Manchester United have won back-to-back Premier League games for the first time since August

Zlatan Ibrahimovic struck two minutes from time to give Manchester United a vital victory just as it appeared they had squandered another advantage at Crystal Palace.

The 35-year-old Swede slid on to Paul Pogba’s pass to beat Wayne Hennessey from an acute angle after James McArthur’s 66th-minute strike seemed to have rescued a point for a strangely passive Palace.

Pogba’s assist repaid Ibrahimovic for creating his opener in first-half stoppage time – although Palace were furious as claims for a handball in the final pass and offside against the scorer were ignored by referee Craig Pawson.

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Crystal Palace 1-2 Manchester United: Zlatan Ibrahimovic ‘phenomenal’ – Jose Mourinho

Pawson had a difficult night and United were angered equally when he ignored a clear handball in his own area from Palace substitute Joe Ledley after the break before Juan Mata’s shot was contentiously ruled out for offside.

In the end, the frustration was Palace’s as Ibrahimovic popped up to secure a United win, their second in succession after beating Tottenham at the weekend, and one that had manager Jose Mourinho on the pitch celebrating with his players at the final whistle.

Relive the drama from Selhurst Park as it happened

Big two deliver for Mourinho

Ibrahimovic and Pogba were Mourinho’s showpiece signings when he took over in the summer – and they are starting to deliver as they appear to be on the same wavelength.

Yes, there was plenty of dispute about both the creation and the finish for Pogba’s first but the pair linked instinctively.

Paul Pogba (left) and Zlatan Ibrahimovic celebrate a Manchester United goal against Crystal Palace<!–

Zlatan Ibrahimovic (right) has scored nine Premier League goals for Manchester United this season

And they did it again in that decisive moment when the game was won, Ibrahimovic making the perfect run to profit from Pogba’s power and pass.

It is happening more and more, as it did when Pogba created a goal for Ibrahimovic against West Ham recently.

Two high-class players are in tune with each other. This can only be good news for Mourinho.

When will Rojo learn?

Manchester United defender Marcos Rojo was heavily criticised for a wild two-footed lunge on Everton’s Idrissa Gueye in the 1-1 draw at Goodison Park at the start of the month.

He was fortunate to escape with only a yellow card from Michael Oliver then – and he was the beneficiary of similar leniency from referee Pawson here at Crystal Palace.

In a carbon copy of his transgression at Everton, Rojo launched himself at Palace’s Wilfried Zaha and was penalised with a foul and a caution. He farcically protested his innocence but can count himself lucky he was not punished more heavily.

Manchester United defender Marcos Rojo (second right) is shown a yellow card by referee Craig Pawson<!–

Manchester United defender Marcos Rojo (second right) is shown a yellow card by referee Craig Pawson

Watford striker Troy Deeney, speaking on Match Of The Day 2 after the Everton game, said: “He strikes me as someone who’s a bit scared of getting hurt so he’s thought ‘I’m going to do everything I can to protect myself’.”

Rojo’s tackling was reckless and could have cost the visitors dearly – not to mention the players he is tackling.

Rooney forced to wait

Wayne Rooney needs one goal to equal Sir Bobby Charlton’s club record of 249 goals for Manchester United but, with the Old Trafford legend looking on, he was frustrated here.

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Wayne Rooney is one short of equalling Sir Bobby Charlton as Manchester United’s all-time leading goalscorer in all competitions

It was not for the want of trying as he worked tirelessly and brought two fine saves from Palace keeper Hennessey, but the wait goes on as he was substituted late on. The show now moves on to West Bromwich Albion at the weekend.

Tough spell for Palace

It is now one win in 10 Premier League games for Palace, who are three points above the relegation zone, and it is not about to get any easier for Pardew’s side.

Premier League leaders Chelsea visit Selhurst Park on Saturday and Palace, who have won just six league games in 2016, have to visit Arsenal in their first game of 2017 on 1 January.

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Crystal Palace made a poor start to the game and only had 14 touches of the ball in the opening 13 minutes

They failed to register a shot on target in the first half and only came alive after Ledley’s introduction at the start of the second.

“We knew we had this tricky spell of matches coming up,” said Pardew after the game. “We’ve got a big game Saturday so we’ve got to take what we can out of this game in terms of our confidence levels.

“We could’ve done better on the break but I can’t fault them, they’ve given me everything and we need a little break here and there and we’ll be OK.”

Man of the match – Paul Pogba

Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba<!–

Paul Pogba produced an energetic performance and scored United’s opening goal before setting up Zlatan Ibrahimovic for the winner

McArthur in rich scoring form

  • James McArthur has scored five Premier League goals this season for Crystal Palace, more than in his previous two seasons at the club combined (four).
  • Zlatan Ibrahimovic has scored five times in his past five Premier League games, after failing to score in his previous six in the competition.
  • Paul Pogba scored and assisted for the first time in a game for Manchester United.
  • Manchester United are unbeaten in all of their 15 Premier League games against Crystal Palace (W12 D3).
  • Mourinho’s United side are now unbeaten in nine games in all competitions (W6 D3).
  • Palace have kept just one clean sheet in their past 21 Premier League games.

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Palace gave everything tonight – Pardew

What’s next?

Both teams are back in Premier League action on Saturday. Palace host a London derby with Chelsea at 12:30 GMT, and five hours later United kick off away at West Bromwich Albion.

Live Text

Match ends, Crystal Palace 1, Manchester United 2.

Second Half ends, Crystal Palace 1, Manchester United 2.

Ander Herrera (Manchester United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Martin Kelly (Crystal Palace).

Goal! Crystal Palace 1, Manchester United 2. Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Manchester United) left footed shot from the left side of the box to the bottom right corner. Assisted by Paul Pogba with a through ball.

Substitution, Crystal Palace. Fraizer Campbell replaces James McArthur.

Attempt blocked. Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Manchester United) right footed shot from the left side of the box is blocked. Assisted by Paul Pogba.

Marcus Rashford (Manchester United) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Foul by Marcus Rashford (Manchester United).

James McArthur (Crystal Palace) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Michael Carrick (Manchester United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Christian Benteke (Crystal Palace).

Foul by Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Manchester United).

Martin Kelly (Crystal Palace) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Daley Blind (Manchester United).

Wilfried Zaha (Crystal Palace) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Substitution, Manchester United. Marcus Rashford replaces Wayne Rooney.

Substitution, Crystal Palace. Ezekiel Fryers replaces Lee Chung-yong.

Attempt missed. Ander Herrera (Manchester United) left footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the left following a corner.

Corner, Manchester United. Conceded by Wayne Hennessey.

Attempt saved. Jesse Lingard (Manchester United) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Zlatan Ibrahimovic with a through ball.

Attempt missed. Marcos Rojo (Manchester United) header from the centre of the box is close, but misses to the left. Assisted by Wayne Rooney with a cross following a corner.

Corner, Manchester United. Conceded by Joel Ward.

Corner, Manchester United. Conceded by Joel Ward.

Ander Herrera (Manchester United) wins a free kick on the right wing.

Foul by Yohan Cabaye (Crystal Palace).

Damien Delaney (Crystal Palace) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Ander Herrera (Manchester United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Damien Delaney (Crystal Palace).

Substitution, Manchester United. Jesse Lingard replaces Juan Mata.

Paul Pogba (Manchester United) is shown the yellow card.

Offside, Manchester United. Marcos Rojo tries a through ball, but Juan Mata is caught offside.

Corner, Manchester United. Conceded by Yohan Cabaye.

Corner, Manchester United. Conceded by Wayne Hennessey.

Attempt saved. Wayne Rooney (Manchester United) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the top left corner. Assisted by David de Gea.

Goal! Crystal Palace 1, Manchester United 1. James McArthur (Crystal Palace) left footed shot from the centre of the box to the bottom left corner. Assisted by Damien Delaney with a through ball.

Foul by Marcos Rojo (Manchester United).

Christian Benteke (Crystal Palace) wins a free kick on the right wing.

Attempt saved. Scott Dann (Crystal Palace) header from the centre of the box is saved in the top right corner. Assisted by Yohan Cabaye with a cross.

Corner, Crystal Palace. Conceded by David de Gea.

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