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Last Updated: Saturday, 18 December, 2004, 19:09 GMT
Man Utd 5-2 Crystal Palace
Rio Ferdinand (left) congratulates team-mate Alan Smith for his goal
Manchester United were twice pegged back but eventually saw off Crystal Palace in dominant fashion.

Wayne Rooney missed a penalty for United but Paul Scholes fired in an angled shot to put them ahead.

Danny Granville poked in an effort to equalise before United's Alan Smith and rival Joonas Kolkka traded headers to leave the match poised at 2-2.

But Emmerson Boyce's own goal, a skilful Scholes strike and John O'Shea's shot rounded off the win.

United were determined to erase the frustration of being held to a 1-1 draw at Fulham on Monday when a lack of cutting edge saw them drop two points.

And they were given the perfect opportunity to take the lead when Darren Fletcher won a dubious penalty after being fouled by Granville.

Palace were furious and felt justice was done when keeper Gabor Kiraly saved Rooney's tamely struck spot-kick low to his right.

United continued to boss the game as they searched for a way through the organised visitors defence, whose tactics were to frustrate the Old Trafford side and catch them out on the counter-attack.

But Palace's plan suffered a setback when their back line was pierced by Roy Keane's ball to Scholes and he cut inside from the left side of the box before shooting into the far top corner.

Man Utd midfielder Paul Scholes scored twice for his side in the 4-2 win over Crystal Palace
Scholes has now scored six goals this season

It seemed the goal would open up the floodgates for United, only for Palace to shock them with an equaliser within five minutes.

A Wayne Routledge corner was headed by Gonzalo Sorondo against team-mate Andrew Johnson as United struggled to clear their lines, and the grateful Granville struck from eight yards to level.

Granville soon had to head a cross clear at the other end as United's response was to mount more pressure on the Palace goal with a sustained spell helping them regain the lead.

Kiraly was forced to tip over a powerful Keane shot, and he turned an equally well struck Scholes effort around the post.

From the resultant corner, Smith headed home - only for Sir Alex Ferguson's team to again concede a goal from a well worked Palace move just after the break.

Routledge did well to control a long Fitz Hall ball and found Michael Hughes, who crossed for Kolkka to head in.

In a dramatic opening to the second half, Kiraly then blocked a Rooney shot, but the ball was played straight back into the Palace box and Boyce looped a header into his own net.

Scholes added his second by latching on to a Smith nod-down and placing a left-foot shot into the bottom corner.

The pace and trickery of Giggs was too hot to handle for the visitors at times and he was twice denied by smart Kiraly stops.

Roy Carroll pulled off a fine one-handed stop from Routledge, but it was United who continually went close with Kiraly proving their main obstacle.

But O'Shea did get another when he shinned in a late goal as United stayed nine points behind Premiership leaders Chelsea.


Man Utd: Carroll, Gary Neville, Ferdinand, Silvestre, Fortune (O'Shea 32), Fletcher, Scholes, Keane, Giggs, Rooney, Smith. Subs Not Used: Howard, Phil Neville, Bellion, Miller.

Goals: Scholes 22, Smith 35, Boyce 48 og, Scholes 49, O'Shea 90.

Crystal Palace: Kiraly, Boyce, Sorondo, Hall, Granville, Routledge (Andrews 81), Riihilahti (Soares 69), Watson, Hughes (Lakis 69), Kolkka, Johnson. Subs Not Used: Speroni, Popovic.

Booked: Granville.

Goals: Granville 27, Kolkka 46.

Att: 67,814

Ref: S Dunn (Gloucestershire).




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