Ole Gunnar Solskjaer praised Romelu Lukaku for grabbing his chance after the Manchester United striker inspired his injury-disrupted team to a 3-1 victory at Crystal Palace.
Lukaku capitalised on a rare start in his favoured central striking position to score twice and help create United’s third goal for Ashley Young as they recorded a club-record eighth successive away victory.
The Belgian has become more peripheral under Solskjaer, with Marcus Rashford excelling as the focal point in attack, but the England forward was not fit to start at Selhurst Park while Jesse Lingard and Anthony Martial were absent.
Lukaku, who played out wide against Liverpool on Sunday, had gone nine games without scoring until Wednesday night, when he could have ended the game with a hat-trick.
United caretaker Solskjaer said: “He was through the middle. We created chances for him, he put them away well.
“He’s done loads of running up and down the line, right wing, left wing. He’s had a different role because of Rash’s form.
“He got a chance up front. Two very good finishes, could have had another one as well earlier on, so I’m very pleased for Rom. He is a quality finisher.
“It’s great to have him around the place, always happy, always working on his finishing. He’s played more than you think, but he’s played wide right, wide left, so it’s Rash’s form that has moved him out there. Now with Rash’s injury he grabbed the chance.”
Alexis Sanchez also started but again struggled to impress, furthering Lukaku’s chances of retaining his place for next week’s crucial Champions League second leg at Paris Saint-Germain.
United’s options were also strengthened by Luke Shaw’s impressive performance from an increasingly attacking role from left-back.
Solskjaer said: “We want him to go forward. That’s the next step for him to do.
“It was down to the shape we played with, because Anthony obviously isn’t fit, and we played Alexis more inside with Rom, and it worked well, with Diogo (Dalot) as a wide right on the other side.
“You go into every game with these players that we’ve got, thinking that you have a chance to win. The next away one’s against PSG. Let’s see if we can continue.”
While United were expected to struggle due to injuries, it was Palace’s defence that was undermined with Mamadou Sakho and Aaron Wan-Bissaka both sidelined.
The latter’s replacement Joel Ward scored their only goal at 2-0 down.
Palace manager Roy Hodgson said: “When we scored it was a result of the pressure we exerted.
“We made a few changes to try and get something from the game and as so often happens against teams of this quality they find a way of picking you off with a third goal.
“No doubt they’re playing very well. Their organisation and work-rate was good. They do have some very, very good players on top of that and they sometimes find a way to punish you as Lukaku did.”
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Manchester United go to Selhurst Park on Wednesday, not only hoping to continue the excellent start to life under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, but also with the aim of maintaining their grip on history.
In the Premier League era, no club has suffered at the hands of United more than Crystal Palace. A win on Wednesday would not only be the perfect 46th birthday present for interim boss Solskjaer, it would make it a 20th game unbeaten for the Red Devils over the Eagles.
This fantastic run was first forged via a Mark Hughes goal in a 1-0 win at Old Trafford in September 1992 and has since stretched to 15 wins and four draws. United have scored 37 goals and conceded just seven over the course of 27 years – including 14 cleans sheets in 19 matches.
United’s record over Palace is superior to similar ones against Charlton Athletic (P16 W14 D2), Queens Park Rangers (P14 W12 D2), Birmingham City (P14 W10 D4) and Hull City (P10 W8 D2).
Here we take a stroll down memory lane and take a look at their record run.
September 2 1992 United 1 Palace 0
In just the sixth game of the Premier League era, Mark Hughes’ 88th minute winner sets the Red Devils on the path to a maiden top-flight league title in 26 years.
April 21 1993 Palace 0 United 2
A crucial shift in the title race had been made 11 days earlier when two Steve Bruce headers in the 86th and 90th minutes saw United come from behind to beat Sheffield Wednesday 2-1 at home.
Like earlier in the season, Hughes was again on the scoresheet here, netting the opening goal just after the hour, while Paul Ince sealed three points with a minute to go. United would end their long title drought in the following game with a 3-1 win over Blackburn.
November 19 1994 United 3 Palace 0
United soar to a comfortable win over the Eagles. Denis Irwin opens the scoring and Eric Cantona adds to the lead in the first half before Andrei Kanchelskis seals the three points early in the second half.
January 25 1995 Palace 1 United 1
United would go on to lose their title to Blackburn by just a point, but this was the game their fate was possibly sealed with Cantona’s infamous kung-fu kick on Palace fan Matthew Simmons following a red card for kicking out at Richard Shaw.
Despite the Frenchman’s 48th minute dismissal – and subsequent eight-month ban – the visitors took the lead eight minutes later through David May. But Gareth Southgate equalised 10 minutes from time.
October 4 1997 United 2 Palace 0
After a two-year stint away from the top-flight the Eagles are back, but are beaten at Old Trafford. New signing Teddy Sheringham opens the scoring early on before Hermann Hreidarsson’s own goal makes it 2-0 by the half-hour mark.
April 27 1998 Palace 0 United 3
Although United saunter to a comfortable 3-0 win thanks to Paul Scholes, Nicky Butt and Andy Cole goals, it’s a run of two previous draws that sees them concede the title to Arsenal, losing out again by just a point. Having been promoted, Palace go straight back down.
December 18 2004 United 5 Palace 2
Palace are back in the big time after six seasons away but are put to the sword by United, who twice go ahead through Paul Scholes and Alan Smith after Wayne Rooney initially sees his penalty saved by Gabor Kiraly – Danny Granville and Joonas Kolkka equalising.
Emerson Boyce’s own goal and Scholes’ second put United 4-2 ahead within four minutes of the restart and John O’Shea seals the win late on – but it’s to be the second of three seasons without a title for the Red Devils.
March 5 2005 Palace 0 United 0
Ten-man Palace hold on for a point against United – who would go on to finish a mammoth 18 points behind champions Chelsea. But it ultimately does them no good as they are again relegated a season after promotion.
September 14 2013 United 2 Palace 0
This time it’s an eight-year stint away from the promised land for the Eagles, who mark their Premier League return with a 2-0 defeat at Old Trafford in their fourth game back.
Robin van Persie’s controversial penalty – scored after Kagisho Dikgacoi is sent off for a phantom foul on Ashley Young – is followed by a Wayne Rooney free-kick to give new United boss David Moyes a first home win.
February 22 2014 Palace 0 United 2
The same two men are again on the scoresheet in the reverse fixture, Van Persie again netting a penalty, and Rooney sealing the win six minutes later, but it’s a disastrous term in charge for Moyes.
His United tenure is prematurely brought to an end in April as United finish seventh – two places below his former side Everton and 22 points behind champions Manchester City.
November 8 2014 United 1 Palace 0
Juan Mata scores the only goal of the game for Louis van Gaal’s United and they kick off a 10-game unbeaten run in the process. The win moved United up to sixth.
May 9 2015 Palace 1 United 2
A run of agonising late defeats to United at Selhurst Park is kicked off with Marouane Fellaini scoring a 78th-minute winner. Mata again finds the net as United end a three-game losing run, Jason Puncheon had equalised for the hosts.
Van Gaal led his side back into the Champions League as United finished fourth, 17 points off champions Chelsea.
October 31 2015 Palace 0 United 0
United’s goal drought extended to more than five hours as they followed up stalemates against City and Middlesbrough in the League Cup with another lukewarm performance – the first time since 2005 that United had registered three successive goalless draws in all competitions.
April 20 2016 United 2 Palace 0
Damien Delaney’s own goal and a Matteo Darmian strike earned the hosts victory although the league season would end in disappointment as United finished fifth after finishing level on points with City and missing out on the Champions League again.
The two sides would meet a month later with Van Gaal’s reign ending on a high in a 2-1 FA Cup final triumph.
December 14 2016 Palace 1 United 2
More late home heartbreak for Palace as Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s strike two minutes from time gives Jose Mourinho’s side a vital victory. Paul Pogba had opened the scoring with James McArthur equalising.
May 21 2017 United 2 Palace 0
Another disappointing Premier League campaign for United as they finish sixth, but it ends on a high with a home win over Palace, during which Mourinho named the youngest United line-up in Premier League history, with an average age of 22 years and 284 days.
Josh Harrop – one of four players given their first top-flight start – opened the scoring, with Pogba making it 2-0 soon after.
September 30 2017 United 4 Palace 0
United compounded Palace’s dreadful start to the season – the Eagles sat rock bottom after this result, a seventh straight loss and a seventh straight game without scoring. Mata netted the opener with Fellaini netting a brace and Romelu Lukaku’s late goal his 11th in 10 United games.
March 5 2018 Palace 2 United 3
Yet more agony for Palace who must have thought a long overdue win over United in the Premier League was finally in their grasp when Andros Townsend and Patrick van Aanholt gave them a 2-0 lead.
But Chris Smalling pulled one back and Lukaku levelled 14 minutes from time. With virtually the last kick of the game, Nemanja Matic volleyed in a stunning winner for the visitors.
November 24 2018 United 0 Palace 0
Mourinho accused his players of not showing “enough heart” after they limped to a goalless draw at home to the Eagles. A month later he was sacked with Solskjaer named his replacement. United are now hoping to make it a 20th straight Premier League game unbeaten against Palace.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is facing an injury crisis with up to 10 players set to miss Manchester United‘s Premier League match at Crystal Palace on Wednesday.
Ander Herrera, Juan Mata and Jesse Lingard were forced off during the first half of Sunday’s draw against Liverpool – a match Anthony Martial, Phil Jones and Nemanja Matic were ruled out of in the build-up.
Antonio Valencia, Marcos Rojo and Matteo Darmian have also been sidelined of late and will continue to miss out at Selhurst Park, where Marcus Rashford’s ankle issue will need to be assessed.
Teenager Mason Greenwood would have come in had he not been injured in recent weeks, leaving caretaker manager Solskjaer with a major injury list to contend with.
“We’ve not really had a session yet, so I don’t think there are a lot of positives, no,” the former United striker said.
“We’ll have a good team out on the pitch definitely. There’ll be a chance for others.
“I’ve been sat on the outside getting a chance when this had happened.
“The players who came in (against Liverpool), Scott (McTominay) and Andy [Andreas Pereira], I thought they did fantastic.
“There you go, that’s the way it is. You’ve just got to be ready when you get it.”
Rojo, who last played on December 12, is set to be back involved on Wednesday but, given his peripheral role it is hardly a major boost for a United side keen to avoid any more setbacks after rushing back Lingard too soon.
“Martial is not going to be ready for this one,” Solskjaer said. “We can’t risk it.
“So, maybe Southampton, but we’re not going to risk another one too early.
“In hindsight, maybe we can say Jesse was eager, he ticked all the boxes in training, had done the recovery work and the rehab but maybe it was a couple of days too early.
“But, then again, it was Liverpool and he was desperate to be a part of it.”
The sheer number of injuries opens up the chance for young talent to be brought in, with highly-rated Tahith Chong, Angel Gomes and James Garner all travelling to Selhurst Park.
“They’ve been part of our training for a long time now,” Solskjaer said. “I’m sure Angel, he’s been successful with England Under-17s, there with (Jadon) Sancho, (Callum) Hudson-Odoi and (Phil) Foden.
“So, he has been a big part of that and, Angel, I am definitely sure that if he gets the chance, he’ll do well.
“Jimmy Garner is a Michael Carrick but 20 years younger, so I’m sure he’ll do well.
“And Chongy, he’ll definitely be taking people on if he comes on. But they’re ready, they’re kids.
“It’s hard when you’re a defender coming on if you’re 16, 17, but as an attacker you just go out there and express yourself. There’s your chance. They can win you the game, they don’t lose it for you.”
More established attacking options will be available to Solskjaer in the form of Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez – big-name players with a point to prove at United.
“It’s a chance for them to play to their potential,” the Norwegian added.
“Reputation is one thing, the potential is high, because the two of them are good mates.
“They link up well together so this might be a chance for them two together to find some form and give us a selection headache for when everyone gets fit again. It’s been coming.”