United’s Youngsters Impressively Beat Crystal Palace

Match Report

United started with its youngest ever Premier League starting lineup with the average age just over 22 years. Mourinho made good on his promise to start a bunch of academy players, giving debuts to Josh Harrop, Joel Pereira, Demetri Mitchell, and Scott McTominay as well as handing starts to Axel Tuanzebe and Timothy Fosu-Mensah. Mourinho also named 16-year-old Angel Gomes and Matty Willock to the bench.

The kids did Jose Mourinho and Nicky Butt proud especially Josh Harrop who bagged a dream debut goal. Played in by a superb Paul Pogba ball, Harrop cut inside swivelled past Matin Kelly and unleashed a shot past Wayne Hennessey in the Palace goal. But United did not rest on its laurels. Just four minutes later, a marauding run by Jesse Lingard saw him tee up Paul Pogba for the 5th goal of his campaign, marking the first game after his father’s death with a goal.

Benteke had a chance to pull one back but failed to get even the slightest of touches as Pereira mad the decision to stay on his line during a corner. Mourinho made two changes and brought on Michael Carrick and Anthony Martial in place of Paul Pogba and Jesse Lingard just before the halftime breather. It looked like a planned move as Mourinho hoped to keep the duo fresh ahead of Wednesday’s showdown against Ajax.

United received an injury scare in the second half after Eric Bailly landed awkwardly after an aerial challenge. But he was okay to continue and had another impressive performance. Benteke had another chance to pull one back for Palace but his effort rebounded off the base of the post. Joel Pereira made a very good save from a Milivojevic freekick as the Portuguese youngster kept a clean sheet on his Premier League debut.

Mourinho also gave Old Trafford the chance to serenade Wayne Rooney, possibly for one final time towards the end of the match. In what was a symbolic image, Rooney now 31 came off 16-year-old Angel Gomes, becoming United’s youngest Premier League player. The youngster did not have enough time to showcase the skills that made him the Academy Player of the Year but it was a no-nonsense display from the England u-17 Captain.

Rooney was given a standing ovation and had his name sung numerous times from the Old Trafford faithful.

Mourinho and United’s attention now shifts to the final in Stockholm in a couple of days’ time.