The Ralf Rangnick era at Old Trafford got off to the perfect start as a second half stunner from Fred secured a 1-0 victory for Manchester United over Crystal Palace in the Premier League.
The Brazilian midfielder combined with Mason Greenwood on the edge of the penalty area, before bending a superb effort over Vicente Guaita into the top corner.
The added intensity from United was clear from the get-go, with the hosts lined up in a 4-2-2-2 formation and pressing at breakneck speed.
Alex Telles shot over from the second phase of a corner, while Cristiano Ronaldo had half a sniff of goal before Marc Guehi recovered to clear the danger. Jadon Sancho then laid on Fred at the edge of the area, but the midfielder’s goalbound effort was blocked heroically by James Tomkins.
United continued to pour forward, with Ronaldo having another half chance inside the penalty area just after the half hour mark, but Patrick Vieira’s side began to gain a foothold in the game – and were previously dangerous through Wilfried Zaha on the counter-attack – with the caveat that they couldn’t muster any clear-cut opportunities.
United weren’t quite operating with the same zip in their movement to start the second period, although they went close when Fernandes’ clipped cross evaded Ronaldo by inches as Guaita collected under pressure.
Telles was unfortunate not to put the hosts ahead just after the hour mark when his free-kick from a tight angle skimmed the top of the Palace crossbar, but then, perhaps, the best opportunity of the game fell to the visitors.
Tomkins rose highest from a corner and when his header back across goal fell to Jordan Ayew he had only the goal to aim at. Unfortunately for Palace, he sliced his effort wide of the far post.
United then punished Vieira’s side just minutes later. Working the ball well into the penalty box via Greenwood, the substitute laid the ball back to Fred on the edge of the area and the Brazilian curled a sumptuous strike with his weak foot into the top corner to hand Rangnick a debut triumph.
Here’s how both teams rated.
David De Gea (GK) – 5/10 – A quiet afternoon for the Spaniard, only being called into action for a few long-range efforts.
Diogo Dalot (RB) – 6/10 – Caught out of position on a few occasions which freed Zaha down the wing, but his distribution was excellent.
Victor Lindelof (CB) – 6/10 – Commanded the backline with confidence, stepping out with the ball when required.
Harry Maguire (CB) – 5/10 – Moved the ball well and dealt with the threat of Christian Benteke commendably.
Alex Telles (LB) – 6/10 – Another impressive showing from the Brazilian, always keen to play forward quickly.
Scott McTominay (CM) – 5/10 – As expected, suits Rangnick’s style of play very well, but his passing was slack throughout.
Fred (CM) – 8/10 – Built on his strong showing against Arsenal in midweek with an impressive display, capped off with a stunning winning goal.
Bruno Fernandes (AM) – 8/10 – A vintage performance from the Portuguese, breaking Palace’s defensive line at will with his incisive passing.
Jadon Sancho (AM) – 6/10 – Operated in a more central role behind the front two and he was certainly more involved than in previous outings.
Cristiano Ronaldo (ST) – 6/10 – Carved out a few good chances, but Man Utd couldn’t create anything of the clear-cut variety for the Portuguese.
Marcus Rashford (ST) – 7/10 – His movement off the shoulder of the Crystal Palace backline was dangerous all afternoon.
Mason Greenwood (AM) – 6/10 – Teed up Fred for the winning goal.
Anthony Elanga (ST) – N/A
Donny van de Beek (AM) – N/A
Vicente Guaita (GK) – 5/10 – Wasn’t forced into any heroics by Man Utd, but he stood up well to what was thrown at him.
Nathaniel Clyne (RB) – 3/10 – Booked in the first half for rash challenge and looked lost on occasions against the rotating cast of United stars down their left flank.
James Tomkins (CB) – 7/10 – A couple of vital blocks inside his own penalty box to bail Palace out.
Marc Guehi (CB) – 5/10 – Showed great anticipation to thwart Ronaldo on a few occasions, but was booked in the second half for a foul on Rashford.
Tyrick Mitchell (LB) – 6/10 – A more comfortable afternoon than he’d ordinarily expect with United not playing with defined width.
Cheikhou Kouyate (CM) – 4/10 – Struggled amid United’s incessant press, turning the ball over at key moments.
Jeffrey Schlupp (CM) – 6/10 – Covered the width of the pitch incredibly well and, paired with Gallagher, created a formidable defensive axis in midfield.
Conor Gallagher (CM) – 7/10 – Looked dangerous in the rare moments Crystal Palace were able to get the ball down and play in the first half.
Jordan Ayew (RW) – 5/10 – A typically energetic performance from Ayew, busting his gut to do the defensive work and helping to alleviate pressure by drawing fouls. However, passed up a huge opportunity in the second half.
Christian Benteke (ST) – 3/10 – He can often look out of place in a game operating at 100mph around him.
Wilfried Zaha (LW) – 8/10 – The brightest spark for the visitors, carrying his side forward on the break.
Odsonne Edouard (ST) – N/A
Michael Olise (RW) – N/A
Eberechi Eze (CM) – N/A