LONDON – Manchester United’s Nemanja Matic volleyed a stunning added-time winner as it fought back from two goals down to beat Crystal Palace 3-2 at Selhurst Park and climbed to second place in the Premier League on Monday night.
Palace, which has never beaten United in the Premier League, took the lead after 11 minutes when Andros Townsend ran onto Christian Benteke’s square ball and struck a left-foot shot that deflected off Victor Lindelof past goalkeeper David de Gea.
The hosts went 2-0 in front three minutes into the second half when Jeffrey Schlupp took a quick free kick after a foul on Benteke, and left back Patrick van Aanholt raced at the goal before firing past De Gea to put Palace in the driving seat.
United pulled a goal back seven minutes later when the unmarked Chris Smalling headed in Antonio Valencia’s cross, and equalized in the 76th when Alexis Sanchez’s effort came back off the bar and Romelu Lukaku turned two defenders to fire home.
Matic then snatched the points when his volley from 25 meters curled away from diving ‘keeper Wayne Hennessey into the top corner to put United back into second spot on 62 points, 16 behind Manchester City, and left Palace in the relegation zone.
“It was a nice goal,” said Matic. “I am happy for the team, not because I scored but because we won and picked up the three points. We showed character after going 2-0 down and they had the crowd behind them.
“We are delighted to have turned it around. Every point matters and it’s so important to win games like this.”
United’s win puts it nine points ahead of fifth-place champion Chelsea in the battle for the top four, which brings a place in next season’s Champions League group stage.
It also took Jose Mourinho’s team back above Liverpool, which is two points behind before the pair clash at Old Trafford on Saturday, with Tottenham Hotspur a further two behind.
With nine games left, Palace is third from the bottom with 27 points, but only a point outside the safety zone.
When Townsend struck the opening goal it was the first time Palace had led United in the Premier League and the home fans could hardly believe their eyes when their Dutch international Van Aanholt beat De Gea at his near post with a rasping drive.
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