Kuala Lumpur Post


Olise’s wonder-strike forces Man United to settle for Palace draw

LONDON — Manchester United’s winning run came to an end as Michael Olise’s superb stoppage-time free-kick rescued a 1-1 draw for Crystal Palace on Wednesday.

Erik ten Hag’s side led through Bruno Fernandes’ first half strike at Selhurst Park as they looked to record their longest winning streak in 14 years.

But Olise halted United’s run at nine successive victories in all competitions when he smashed a breathtaking set-piece past David de Gea in the final seconds.

It was a major blow for United, who had hoped to climb to second place in the Premier League and put pressure on leaders Arsenal ahead of their visit to the Emirates Stadium on Sunday.

Having beaten City 2-1 in the Manchester derby on Saturday, United left freezing south London disappointed not to make it 10 in a row.

Instead, United moved up to third, level on points with champions Manchester City and eight adrift of Mikel Arteta’s table-toppers.

City would go three points clear of United if they beat Tottenham on Thursday.

United, who haven’t won the title since 2013, can still put a little pressure on Arsenal if they beat the Gunners in north London.

Just 24 hours after British billionaire Jim Ratcliffe’s firm Ineos declared their interest in buying United, Ten Hag is making the Old Trafford club more valuable to potential new owners by the day, regardless of this setback.

Palace beat United in south London on the final day of last season at the dismal culmination of Ralf Rangnick’s lacklustre reign as interim boss.

United have been revitalised by Ten Hag in the intervening eight months and the contrast between the two eras was immediately evident.

Ten Hag’s team went close to an early opener when Luke Shaw fizzed a half-volley just wide of the far post from Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s pass.

Wout Weghorst was making his United debut following his arrival on loan from Burnley after his spell at Besiktas was cut short.

The Netherlands striker’s only sight of goal in his 70-minute appearance was a header onto the roof of the net from Shaw’s cross.

United frustrated

After being penned back for much of the first half, Palace mounted a menacing attack when Odsonne Edouard’s 25-yard blast was brilliantly tipped onto the bar by De Gea.

United were unfazed and took the lead in clinical fashion after 44 minutes.

Fernandes scored United’s controversial equaliser in the Manchester derby on Saturday, with Marcus Rashford clearly offside before the Portugal midfielder netted.

There were no doubts about this one as Christian Eriksen swept into the Palace area and cut his pass back to the unmarked Fernandes, who took a touch before shooting powerfully past Vicente Guaita from 12 yards.

While Fernandes took the spotlight, Eriksen’s seventh assist in the league since joining United last year underlined the Dane’s value.

Unbeaten in the league when leading at half-time since September 2014, United had won each of the previous 15 league games in which they scored the first goal.

They maintained control for much of the second half, aided by an influential display from Brazil midfielder Casemiro, who was so unruffled he even posed for a selfie with a pitch-invading fan.

Stewards were slow to react to the supporter, who stood next to Casemiro for several seconds and was almost off the pitch again before he was finally intercepted by security.

Rashford was aiming to become the first United player since Ruud van Nistelrooy in 2003 to score in eight consecutive appearances.

But his hot streak came to an end as he slashed wide from the edge of the area and United faded in the closing stages.

Marc Guehi’s header almost brought an equaliser as De Gea palmed it away.

Palace snatched their leveller at the death when Olise bent a sublime free-kick over the wall and in off the bar from 30 yards. — AFP