Crystal Palace’s prospects of pulling off a shock result at Old Trafford disappeared within three minutes as Manchester United wrapped up a routine victory with Marouane Fellaini’s first double for the club and a record-equalling goal by Romelu Lukaku.
Palace, still without a point or a goal in seven Premier League matches, were exposed early on as Juan Mata converted a cutback by Marcus Rashford.
Fellaini then went on to score either side of half-time to keep United top of the table with Manchester City involved in the late kick off at Chelsea.
Romelu Lukaku is congratulated by his Manchester United team-mates after scoring the last goal in their 4-0 win on Saturday
Marouane Fellaini somehow got ahead of Damien Delaney to head home past Wayne Hennessey to score United’s third goal
The former Everton star is mobbed by his Manchester United team-mates including a delighted Lukaku
Fellaini made a late run into Crystal Palace’s box and tapped home at the back post from Ashley Young’s cross for his first
The Palace defence didn’t track the big Belgian and he was able to slot home to double Manchester United’s lead
Fellaini, the former Toffees midfielder, points to Young to thank him for his assist after grabbing his side’s second goal
The Palace players cut dejected figures after conceding the second goal – they had failed to score a goal prior to this game
Juan Mata was left unmarked inside Crystal Palace’s box to open the scoring for Manchester United in the third minute
The Spaniard celebrates with Marcus Rashford, who got the better of Joel Ward to set-up the opening goal at Old Trafford
Mata, the former Chelsea playmaker, wheels away to celebrate his early goal against the struggling Premier League outfit
MATCH FACTS, RATINGS, PREMIER LEAGUE TABLE AND MATCH ZONE FROM OLD TRAFFORD
- Premier League
- Premier League
- League One
- League Two
- Scottish Premiership
- Scottish Div 1
- Scottish Div 2
- Scottish Div 3
- Ligue 1
- Serie A
- La Liga
MANCHESTER UNITED: De Gea, Valencia, Smalling, Jones, Young, Matic, Fellaini, Mata (Herrera 77), Mkhitaryan (Lingard 66), Rashford (Martial 72), Lukaku
Subs not used: Bailly, Blind, Romero, Darmian
Goals: Mata 3; Fellaini 35, 49; Lukaku 86
CRYSTAL PALACE: Hennessey, Ward, Sakho, Delaney, Van Aanholt, Milivojevic, Cabaye, Townsend, Puncheon (Riedewald 69), Schlupp (McArthur 68), Sako (Ladapo 74)
Subs not used: Speroni, Lee, Mutch, Kelly
Referee: Mike Dean (Wirral)
Palace’s best moment came when makeshift striker Bakary Sako tested David de Gea with the score still at 1-0 but Lukaku put the icing on the cake when he tapped home United’s fourth, joining Andy Cole as the only player to begin his Old Trafford career with seven goals in seven games.
It looked a mismatch on paper and even though the visitors had their moments, it was one of Jose Mourinho’s more relaxing victories as they made light of Paul Pogba’s absence with a hamstring injury and a 4am arrival from Russia on Thursday.
Roy Hodgson had to recall 36-year-old defender Damien Delaney with centre halves James Tomkins, Timothy Fosu-Mensah and Scott Dann all out for a variety of reasons, while winger Sako was forced into No 9 duties with Christian Benteke and Connor Wickham both out.
If Hodgson’s plan was to keep things tight early on, it failed spectacularly. After three minutes, Rashford feinted to go past Joel Ward in one direction then twisted to fly past him in the other.
When the England youngster got to the byline, his measured cutback evaded three Palace shirts before Mata nipped in front of Mamadou Sakho and fired in from 12 yards.
It was the Spaniard’s first goal of the season on his 200th Premier League appearance. Meanwhile, in the visitors’ dug-out, Hodgson sunk ever lower in his seat with his £1million bonus for keeping Palace in the Premier League looking further away than ever.
Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson and his Manchester United counterpart, Jose Mourinho, have a chat prior to kick off
Man United prepare for their Premier League encounter with the Eagles – and it wasn’t long until they were celebrating
Former Aston Villa and Watford winger Ashley Young is put under pressure from Andros Townsend as he looks to clear ball
Young, the versatile United player, is put under pressure from Townsend but manages to clear the ball to safety
England’s young forward Rashford gets the better of Palace full back Ward and prepares to tee up Mata for his goal
With just three minutes on the clock at Old Trafford, United were deservedly a goal up thanks to Mata’s well-taken strike
Palace at least had a sniff of a quick reply – Sakho heading over from Yohan Cabaye’s free-kick – before normal service resumed in the Manchester rain. Even Nemanja Matic ventured forward and wasn’t too far away with a potshot from 25 yards.
Palace’s best spell came around the half-hour mark with a series of corners while Sako brought a save from De Gea from 20 yards.
Andros Townsend was under instructions to test Ashley Young but when the boot was on the other foot, United went 2-0 ahead after 35 minutes.
Young advanced into the final third and when Townsend didn’t stick close enough to him, he swung in a fabulous delivery to the far post where Fellaini arrived like a steam train to finish from a few yards with his right foot.
Mourinho’s only concern was complacency and he railed against ‘Playstation football’ after a backheel surrendered possession.
Lukaku (left) and Rashford join in on the celebrations after seeing Mata break the deadlock on Saturday afternoon
The Crystal Palace players turn their backs to Mata and prepare to restart the match as United’s goal celebrations continue
Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea celebrates the opening goal, which piled more misery on struggling Palace
The returning Jason Puncheon, who captained Crystal Palace on Saturday, attempts to get the ball off Nemanja Matic
Puncheon wins the ball but takes out Matic too, giving away a foul during a first half in which the hosts were dominant
Chris Smalling and Rashford went close to adding a third goal but it eventually came after 49 minutes after a foul on Young by the right angle of the penalty area.
Rashford put plenty of purchase on his free-kick and Fellaini got in front of Delaney to apply the finishing touch with his head from a couple of yards. It was the Belgian’s first brace since signing for the club from Everton in 2014.
Palace felt hard done by when referee Mike Dean ignored strong penalty appeals following Smalling’s challenge on Sako.
With the game already dead, Hodgson decided to have a look at Jairo Riedewald, one of only two cash signings made by his predecessor Frank de Boer, and Freddie Ladapo, a 24-year-old forward making his Palace debut after playing on loan at Oldham and Shrewsbury last season.
Antonio Valencia, the United captain for Saturday’s top-flight fixture, lets fly with a hopeful shot at Crystal Palace’s goal
Hodgson cuts a concerned figure after seeing his team go 1-0 down in the first half against the Premier League giants
Fellaini collided with the post in the aftermath of his goal, showing bravery to prod home a second goal at the back post
The 29-year-old midfielder wheels away to celebrate his goal as he joined Mata (pictured in the background) on scoresheet
Mata whips in a first-half corner at Old Trafford as United look to double their lead against the relegation candidates
At the other end, Lukaku was temporarily denied his customary goal when he grazed the post after Jesse Lingard’s stumble had distracted Palace. He finally got it after 86 minutes with a tap-in set up on a plate by substitute Anthony Martial.
If Palace draw another blank in their next game against Chelsea, they will equal Halifax’s unwanted record from all four divisions of failing to score in their opening eight league fixtures.
A fourth consecutive goalless defeat for Hodgson would also leave him with the same record as De Boer – though it’s unlikely the former England manager would also get the sack.
At least the Palace fans had plenty of black humour to go with their team’s shirts. They were beaten even more heavily across Manchester a week ago. ‘How s*** must you be,’ they sung to United’s supporters. ‘City scored five’.
Manchester United manager Mourinho, formerly of Chelsea and Real Madrid, barks instructions from his touchline
Ward, who has endured a difficult start to the season, had another afternoon to forget as Rashford ran him ragged
Rashford turned provider again, delivering a wonderful free-kick which Fellaini headed in to score his second goal
The Old Trafford favourite screams with delight following his second goal of the afternoon as Chris Smalling joins him
Romelu Lukaku, who has enjoyed an impressive start to his career at Manchester United, misses a chance to score