Manchester United ended their 2015-16 campaign on a high note as they clinched their first major trophy after the retirement of legendary manager Sir Alex Ferguson. An extra-time stunner from Jesse Lingard helped them beat Crystal Palace 2-1 and lift the FA Cup at Wembley.
For the first time since 2004, Manchester United have been crowned the winners of the FA Cup. Wayne Rooney has landed the only missing trophy in his cabinet after 12 years at Old Trafford and the Red Devils finally have something to celebrate as their 2-1 win over Crystal Palace handed manager Louis van Gaal his first — and possibly last — trophy as Manchester United manager.
It was a quintessential cup tie with a few great goals, extra-time, a sending off and late drama. After a relatively tepid first half, the Eagles stunningly took the lead through substitute Jason Puncheon in the 78th minute, but United rallied three minutes later. Their captain Wayne Rooney embarked on an astounding run, beating five Palace players before crossing it in for Fellaini to chest down and Juan Mata to finish.
The 90 minutes ended with the scores level and the final went into extra-time. The final action of the first half of extra-time was one which could have proved damning for Manchester United as Chris Smalling was shown his second yellow card for a cynical foul on Yannick Bolasie. However, the second half proved to be their redemption as academy product Jesse Lingard scored with an inch perfect first-time volley to secure the win.
1. David de Gea – 8/10
Another assured display by the Spaniard between the sticks, as he put in some great saves to make up for the dodgy defence ahead of him. Couldn’t do much about the fierce Puncheon goal.
5. Marcos Rojo – 6/10
A much improved display by the Argentine before he was taken off with an injury. Put in some good crosses from the wing and was decent in defence.
12. Chris Smalling – 6/10
Put in a very good performance defensively by keeping the pressure on Crystal Palace’ attackers, but lost his cool once too often. His sending off in extra-time could have cost Manchester United dearly.
17. Daley Blind – 5/10
His defensive failings were once again exposed as he lost the ball once too often to Connor Wickham. The Dutchman put in a much improved show after extra-time, but it was another display which will raise questions about his defensive capabilities.
25. Antonio Valencia – 7/10
Valencia is fast proving to be Manchester United’s best option at right-back. His blistering pace and stamina were on display as he was crucial to attacking play and tracked back enough to fulfil his defensive duties too.
27. Marouane Fellaini – 7/10
The Belgian is one of Manchester United’s most potent aerial threats and proved to be a constant threat from set plays. Laid on the first goal for Juan Mata to score and was unlucky to hit the woodwork from a good position.
16. Michael Carrick – 6/10
In possibly his final game for the Red Devils, Carrick was largely controlled by the constant man-marking by Crystal Palace but put in a good performance nonetheless. Proved he’s still capable of playing at the top level.
8. Juan Mata – 8/10
The Spaniard was instrumental in attacking play throughout and was in the right place at the right time to equalize for Manchester United when they were up against it.
10. Wayne Rooney – 9/10
A masterclass by Wayne Rooney once again as he showed why he could be revolutionary for United as a midfielder. His run in the lead up to United’s equalizer was the stuff dreams are made of.
39. Marcus Rashford – 7/10
Another impressive showing by the teenager, whose clever runs and deft touches were a joy to watch. Unfortunately taken off because of an injury.
9. Anthony Martial – 7/10
The Frenchman was a constant threat from the left and came agonizingly close to scoring when his header hit the woodwork in the second-half.
36. Matteo Darmian – 7/10
A good cameo for Darmian as he came on for the injured Marcos Rojo.
35. Jesse Lingard – 8/10
Had the best moment of his breakthrough season. The academy product stole the win for 10-man Manchester United in the second half of extra-time with a smashing volley.
18. Ashley Young – 5/10
Once again inexplicably deployed as a striker by Louis van Gaal, before being dragged all the way into defence after Chris Smalling’s red card.
13. Wayne Hennessey – 6/10
The Welsh keeper put in a decent display and pulled off some great saves, but was beaten twice and saved by the woodwork twice.
23. Pape Souare – 6/10
Was put under a lot of pressure from Juan Mata and Antonio Valencia, but managed to put up a good defensive showing.
6. Scott Dann – 6/10
Had a good match and managed to be the backbone of the Palace defence up until the Juan Mata equalizer where he left both Fellaini and Mata with too much space.
27. Damien Delaney – 5/10
Looked unsure of himself at the back and his poor clearance paved the way for Jesse Lingard to score the winning goal.
2. Joel Ward – 7/10
Did his best to control the rampaging Anthony Martial, which proved to be good enough. Also made an important block in the first half and sent in a beautiful long pass for Puncheon to open the scoring.
15. Mile Jedinak – 6/10
Performed his duty of marking the threat of Marouane Fellaini, but failed to do much else.
7. Yohan Cabaye – 7/10
The Frenchman was pulling the strings for Palace throughout, but looked slightly suspect defensively. Rightly frustrated at being substituted for the final 20 minutes.
18. James McArthur – 5/10
Was anonymous throughout the game.
11. Wilfried Zaha – 6/10
The former Manchester United man was one of Palace’s best attacking threats, but failed to pierce the United defence and scuppered a good chance against the advancing David de Gea.
10. Yannick Bolasie – 6/10
The much-hyped winger failed to have any significant impact on the match. His only major contribution was winning the foul that got Smalling sent off.
21. Connor Wickham – 7/10
Put the pressure on both of Manchester United’s centre-backs and his pace and presence helped Crystal Palace set up attacks and get deep in the opposition half.
3. Adrian Mariappa – 7/10
Looked much more solid than Scott Dann in defence, was good in possession.
42. Jason Puncheon – 7/10
Almost became Crystal Palace’s biggest hero as he came off the bench to score a fierce late goal that put them ahead. Was a constant threat after that.
16. Dwight Gayle – 6/10
Made a few good runs, had a shot saved by David de Gea. Failed to come up with the final product.