Debutant Adnan Januzaj’s cameo a high point as Manchester United get job done
Novice Crystal Palace left wanting at Old Trafford as points remain at home
Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney celebrates scoring his goal with team-mates during their defeat of Crystal Palace at Old Trafford on Saturday. (Photograph: Reuters.)
The afternoon was memorable for a Wayne Rooney free-kick, the debuts of Marouane Fellaini and Adnan Januzaj and not much else. Manchester United bagged victory so they move on content, while Crystal Palace can feel aggrieved at the penalty scored by Robin van Persie just before half-time that killed the contest.
Fellaini, the €33 million arrival on transfer deadline day for United, entered on 62 minutes and looked the part against what is a novice Palace side. The Belgian stroked the ball around to his new colleagues and added bite in midfield, one of the primary roles for which David Moyes acquired him.
After Van Persie’s goal and Rooney’s impressive second-half strike confirmed the win, Fellaini hailed a welcome that featured supporters donning replica wigs of his bushy hair. “I’m happy we took the three points. That’s the most important,” he said. “It’s was a nice first experience, they all supported me.
“That there were fans with wigs in the stands is always nice. I want to give everything for this club, for the team-mates and the fans. I was happy with my first 30 minutes – I’ve tried to do my job: winning duels, clearing balls, playing clean.”
Bayer Leverkusen are next up at Old Trafford for tomorrow evening’s opening Champions League group game. This is Moyes’s bow in charge of United in the competition and Fellaini is also targeting a big night for him. “I hope to start,” he said. “It will be my first experience in that league and I’m looking forward to do it but the coach decides. It’s important we make a good start.”
The game turned when the referee Jon Moss, who had earlier booked Ashley Young for diving in the area, this time adjudged he was fouled by Kagisho Dikgacoi and pointed to the spot. While the contact looked to have begun outside the area Palace suffered a double blow when Moss sent off their midfielder.
Van Persie coolly stroked the penalty beyond Julian Speroni and there was a similar precision to Rooney’s 81st-minute dead-ball finish that was bent beyond the visiting goalkeeper.
For Moyes there is a contentment regarding the fluidity Rooney offers. “We will try and get him up there but Wayne’s game is a little bit more,” the Scot said. “He has developed into one of those centre-forwards who drops into spaces to pick the ball up. He plays in a slightly different way, so you have to appreciate him for what he does and his style of play.”
Januzaj came on five minutes after Fellaini for Young, who will be spoken to by Moyes about his dive. Januzaj produced an intriguing cameo that featured the 18-year-old wandering from his left wing to try to run the game in the kind of central-midfield display United can lack, which prompted the doomed pursuits of Cesc Fabregas and Ander Herrera.
Januzaj said: “I felt great and shocked because I played for about 25 minutes and that was my first game. I think I did some good things but it is only my debut, so I have to keep doing well on the pitch. I appreciate the very good fans, they gave me a bit of power when I came on the pitch. I am very happy. I hoped to get a goal but I tried to do my best for the team .
“Of course, I want more games to play and I hope I will have another chance to play for the first team. If I have the chance then I will give everything for the club.”