Manchester United were unceremoniously dumped out in the Carling Cup quarter-finals for the second season in a row, after a shock 2-1 defeat to visiting Championship side Crystal Palace. Despite starting nine internationals, the home team looked devoid of attacking threat and urgency, and Palace ran out deserved winners. Ben Amos continued his League Cup run in goal, and in support ahead of him was the defensive quartet of Rafael, Smalling, Evans and Fabio. Sir Alex opted for a more experienced midfield of Valencia, Park, Gibson and Diouf, while Berbatov and Macheda spearheaded the attack.
In truth, it was not a very memorable game at all, with the only real incidents of note in the first half coming, unfortunately, in the form of injuries to both Palace and United players. The only real chance fell for Antonio Valencia, who when one-on-one with Luke Price in the Palace goal, could only direct his finish agonisingly past the post.
United started the second half with a greater sense of purpose, especially with the introduction of Ravel Morrison, who replaced the injured Berbatov. Perhaps the best indication of United's poor play in the first half came through the 55th minute statistic, when Morrison produced only the first shot on target. It was, however, Palace who took the lead, and with a real humdinger of a goal too. Subsitute Darren Ambrose collected the ball inside the United half, and from almost 40 yards, unleashed an unstoppable shot that Amos had absolutely no chance with. Old Trafford was stunned into silence…
…A silence that did not last too long though, as United go the equaliser through a Macheda penalty only four minutes later. The Italian was tugged down in the box, only to subsequently pick himself up and slot in the resulting spot-kick.
There were no other chances in the remainder of the half, and as things moved into extra-time, it seemed just a matter of when the goal would be scored, with the Palace players clearly tiring faster than their United counterparts. Incredibly, however, it was the team in yellow that got the ultimately winning goal, after Glenn Murray headed home from close-range, although television replays showed that he was marginally offside. No one could begrudge Palace the goal that their resolute performance had warranted. The first displays of any desire to win the game only appeared five minutes from the end, too late to influence the game in any way.
It was a dire performance from the team in truth, and one or two players in particular did not do too much to stake a further claim for a regular first team place. It is disappointing to be knocked out in the quarter-finals once again, but once again, the team's response to this latest setback will be interesting to observe.
Best Moment: Fryers's double fish-dive at the end
Worst Moment: Murray's winner
Man Of The Match: Wilfried Zaha
The Zeki Fryers Moment of the Match:
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