MANCHESTER, England -- Manchester United hung on for a 2-1 win over Crystal Palace despite playing the last 20 minutes with 10 men after Casemiro was sent off. An early penalty from Bruno Fernandes and another Marcus Rashford goal had United cruising at 2-0 before Casemiro was shown a straight red for violent conduct after a VAR check.
Palace took advantage of their extra man to pull a goal back through Jeffrey Schlupp but United were able to hold on to win and move up to third in the Premier League table.
1. Man United hang on despite Casemiro red card
Everything was going so well when Rashford put United 2-0 up in the 62nd minute but then Casemiro was sent off and everything changed. The Brazilian was shown a straight red card for violent conduct after VAR Tony Harrington had spotted him putting his hands around Will Hughes' neck during a melee on the touchline.
When Schlupp made it 2-1 with 15 minutes still to play, you wondered whether United were about to throw away two points but some resilient defending and a lack of real threat from Palace meant Ten Hag's team were able to hang on for their 13th consecutive win at Old Trafford.
The only thing that soured it was Casemiro's moment of madness and probably the most important player in United's team will now miss the next three games because of the resulting suspension. It's fortunate the club were able to bring in Marcel Sabitzer on deadline because he has suddenly become very important in Ten Hag's midfield.
2. Anthony Martial and Wout Weghorst becoming a conundrum for Ten Hag
There is a problem developing for Ten Hag around what to do with his strikers. He wants to play with Martial as his centre forward but the Frenchman can't stay fit. Weghorst, the back up striker signed in January, is struggling for form and the one player scoring goals, Rashford, is most dangerous when he's playing out wide.
Martial is averaging a goal every 120 minutes this season but was missing from the squad against Palace after picking up another injury against Nottingham Forest on Wednesday. It's Martial's fifth separate injury lay-off this season and it's only February. He's looked sharp when he's played but he hasn't been available for enough games and it wouldn't be a surprise if Ten Hag's patience is wearing thin.
Weghorst was only supposed to be a back-up option when he arrived on loan from Burnley in January but he's had to start the last six games. A completely different player to Martial, he's struggled to make an impact so far aside from a solitary goal against Forest in the first leg of the Carabao Cup semifinal. Luckily for Ten Hag, Rashford is in the form of his life.
3. Crystal Palace are in danger of getting sucked into a relegation battle
Crystal Palace haven't finished lower than 15th since winning promotion back into the Premier League in 2013 but they are in danger of being dragged into a relegation battle this season. Patrick Vieira's side have won just one of their last 10 games in all competitions and defeat at Old Trafford leaves them just six points above the drop zone.
They were on the back foot early on against United after conceding a penalty after just seven minutes but they had bright moments before half-time, particularly when Schlupp forced David De Gea into a good save low to his left, and after Casemiro was sent off. Vieira will feel like it was a missed opportunity against United after playing against 10 men for more than 20 minutes and it will raise further questions about whether he has enough goals in his team, particularly when Wilfried Zaha is missing -- as he was here because of a hamstring injury.
Momentum, positive or negative, can be difficult to shake off and Palace haven't won a game in any competition in 2023. That will need to change quickly if Vieira and his players are to avoid a nervous end to the season.
Best and worst performers
BEST: Lisandro Martinez, DF, Man United: The Argentinian defended brilliantly and helped United get over the line despite Palace piling on the pressure in the final stages.
BEST: David De Gea, GK, Man United: He made two big saves, the best of which denied a Marc Guehi header flying into the net.
BEST: Marcus Rashford, ST, Man United: Kept up his scoring run with his 11th goal in his last 13 games.
WORST: Will Hughes, MF, Palace: Only he will know why his hand was so high when he gave away the early penalty.
WORST: Casemiro, MF, Man United: Stupidly got himself sent off when he put his hands around Hughes' neck and gave Palace a lifeline.
WORST: Wout Weghorst, ST, Man United: The big Dutchman isn't lacking in effort but he often looks out of place when United try to attack with pace.
Highlights and notable moments
Fernandes' cool and calm penalty gave United the lead after just seven minutes.
A fluid build-up play led to United's second goal of the game and Rashford's 19th goal of the season.
Casemiro received a red card for putting his hands around the neck of Will Hughes.
RED CARD CASEMIRO 😳 pic.twitter.com/FPwnTPc7GP— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) February 4, 2023
After the match: What the players/managers said
Man United's head coach Erik ten Hag: "Casemiro crossed the line, you saw that. However, I'm unhappy with the inconsistent refereeing. Not only this game but also [in the away match against] Palace. They elbowed Martinez, and then last week with Eriksen."
Man United's Luke Shaw: "[We're] really happy. A massive three points, I think, especially under the circumstances, in the last 20 minutes, it was really tough but we showed character, we showed resilience, to win this game in the end. I think we feed off that energy from the fans. They've been amazing and today, tough times, especially with 10 men, we feed off that. We fight to the end, we didn't want to lose these points, and I think it showed."
Key stats (provided by ESPN Stats & Information research)
- Marcus Rashford has double-digit Premier League goals for the 4th time in his career. The only players with more are Wayne Rooney (11), Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (5) and Andy Cole (5).
- Manchester United have won their last 13 home games in all competitions, their longest run at Old Trafford since a run of 20 between December 2010 and September 2011.
- Casemiro's dismissal was the first straight red card he's been shown while playing for a club within the big five European leagues.