Old Trafford resonated with the familiar jubilation of a home win as Manchester United sailed past Crystal Palace with a comprehensive 3-0 victory, advancing into the Carabao Cup’s fourth round. With a rich blend of tactical acumen and player brilliance, Erik ten Hag’s men highlighted that the defending champions are not ready to let go of their crown just yet.
Opening the game’s scoring sheet, Alejandro Garnacho’s 21st-minute goal set the tone. But it was Casemiro, the stalwart Brazilian, who dominated the narrative. Doubling the lead just six minutes post Garnacho’s opener, Casemiro also played the architect for Anthony Martial’s exquisite goal ten minutes into the second half.
The Red Devils, despite recent challenges in their Premier League campaign, looked invigorated, harmonising Ten Hag’s philosophy with their intrinsic attacking pedigree. The integration of Mason Mount and summer signing Sofyan Amrabat in the starting XI brought a fresh flair. Particularly Amrabat, the on-loan Fiorentina man, showcased why he’s highly regarded, impressing as an inverted left-back. His ability to shift the play with accurate cross-field passes, especially to Mount, was pivotal.
However, the genesis of United’s first goal was a testament to Diogo Dalot’s brilliance, who masterfully found Garnacho with a low cross after capitalising on Facundo Pellistri’s pass. A confident Crystal Palace would have hoped to bounce back, but such aspirations were doused when Casemiro met Mount’s corner, further fortifying United’s lead.
Martial’s contribution, a sharp strike from a challenging angle, was more than just a goal. It was a statement, especially after the recent crowd’s skepticism towards Ten Hag’s decision of replacing Rasmus Hojlund with him during a clash against Brighton. Onana, despite a rather uneventful night under the bars, showcased his class, thwarting two attempts from Palace’s Jean-Phillippe Mateta.
For the Eagles, the night bore an additional layer of disappointment. Their custodian, Dean Henderson, had to bow out just 19 minutes into the game, succumbing to muscular pain. The fact that this happened against his former club, at Old Trafford, added an emotional nuance to the narrative.
Post-match, Ten Hag radiated contentment, emphasising the progress his squad is making. He remarked, “We played quite well and dominated the game.” Reflecting on their recent win at Burnley, he said, “We made a step forward at Burnley… today on the ball we made another step. There’s still a lot to come, but we’re moving forward.”