Zaha winner not enough for West Ham as Man Utd’s Europa League hopes saved in Brighton
Wilfried Zaha scored the only goal of the game as Man United were defeated 1-0 by Crystal Palace – but still earned a spot in next season’s Europa League.
United went into the game knowing three points would secure a top-six finish and a spot in the Europa League next season. However, the absence of Jadon Sancho, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Luke Shaw meant a youthful and inexperienced line-up for Ralf Rangnick. Nevertheless, the visitors still started the stronger side as they aimed to end a disappointing season on a high.
After 15 minutes of play, A long-range effort from Bruno Fernandes deflected into the path of Edison Cavani, who shot towards goal.
This effort took another deflection and appeared to sidefoot ‘keeper Vicente Guaita. However, the Spanish shot-stopper reacted well to keep the game goalless.
Moments later Anthony Elanga charged into the penalty area and slid the ball dangerously across goal. Fernandes raced towards the delivery, however, his outstretched leg narrowly missed the ball as it raced across the six-yard box for a goal kick.
The Eagles have never lost their last home game of a top-flight season when playing at home. After 37 minutes, Patrick Vieira’s men moved a step closer to keeping that record intact.
Wilfried Zaha used his strength to beat Diogo Dalot to the ball, before cutting onto his right foot. The winger then fired low into the bottom left corner, beating De Gea and finding the back of the net.
Minutes later West Ham had taken the lead at Brighton, and entering the break United looked to be heading for the Europa Conference League.
Man Utd saved in Brighton
Minutes into the second-half and the away end of Selhurst Park burst into cheers, despite their being no goal inside the ground.
Brighton had equalised against West Ham, and as things stood United’s sixth place finish was still safe.
On the pitch however, the Red Devils didn’t look like finding their own equaliser. Rangnick was forced into making a change, as Juan Mata replaced youngster Hannibal Mejbri.
The change nearly paid off, as a Mata corner produced the closest chance of the half. His corner found McTominay in laods of space, but the Scottish international headed poorly. His effort was straight at Guiata, but really should’ve put his side level.
Typical of United’s season, they struggled to cause much threat for the rest of the half. Frustrations grew as Victor Lindelof and Fernandes were both booked, and Palace looked comfortable in defence.
News than broke from the Amex stadium. Goals from Pascal Gross and Danny Welbeck sunk West Ham, meaning the Hammers would be settling for the Europa Conference League.
The final whistle was then blown at Selhurst Park. What they set off to achieve on the dasy was secured, however there was very little joy elsewhere for those travelling fans.
The defeat was United’s 12th of the season, and also their sixth consecutive away loss.
For Palace, victory moved them above Brentford and into 12th, as they will surely look to build on that next season