Manchester United manager Louis Van Gaal expressed his satisfaction with the way his team played and won against Crystal Palace last night, courtesy of a solitary Juan Mata goal.

United were made to work hard by a resolute Palace defense, but eventually found the breakthrough via substitute Juan Mata’s shot from outside the box in the 65th minute.

“I am happy with the three points,’ Van Gaal said.

“They came to defend and that is always very difficult to play as a team against.

“We had a lot of time on the ball, we created possibilities, not big chances, but possibilities.

“We could have scored in the first half but I said at half-time, “Okay, we played better than the matches before because we kept the pace before and the opponents will tire and there will come a moment we will score”.

Forced to field an unusual centreback pairing of Blind and McNair due to injuries to his defenders, Van Gaal expressed his delight at the way the pair played and did not give away many chances to the Palace strikers.

“In the first half we gave only one chance away and it was a miscommunication between McNair and Blind,” said Van Gaal. “But in the second half we scored and that is the most important thing.

“After that, we tried to kill the game, we had to kill the game for the first time. So I am very happy. In spite of the fact we killed the game, we created a lot of chances. [Wayne] Rooney could have scored, Mata could have scored for the second time and [Robin] Van Persie also. We did it well because three points was very important. Now we have an international break after a victory, which is always better.”

Angel Di Maria continued to struggle to make an impact from the wide positions, but Van Gaal defended his star player.

“For [Di Maria] it was difficult because the space was very small,” he continued. “That was difficult for every player, but especially if you are a player who likes to dribble with the ball. You have to dribble through a lot of players so it was more of a passing game. We did that in the first half very well but didn’t score. Then in the second half we did score.

“They were defending and not attacking, but they have very quick strikers and you have to always pay attention to that. You have always one moment and that moment came in the first half and it could have been a goal for Palace with the lob over [David] de Gea. OK, we were lucky that time, but I think we deserved to win.”

Juan Mata started on the bench with Adnan Januzaj preferred to start, but the Spaniard’s performance might force Van Gaal into reconsidering his first-choice attackers.

“He didn’t change the formation or the style of play but he scored, and that’s always the most important thing,” he added. “When you score, you win the game. Because of that we won. So I am happy with that.”