Manchester United kept up their chase for a Champions League qualification spot with Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial on target in a 2-0 Premier League win over Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park on Thursday (July 16).
With two games remaining, United are in fifth place on 62 points, behind Leicester City on goal difference, with third-placed Chelsea on 63.
After West Ham visit Old Trafford on Wednesday, United go to Leicester on the final day of the season in what could be a decider for fourth place.
“We need to smile and go into this, we have earned this right, no-one thought in January that we would be in with a shout for top four,” said United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, whose team are 19 unbeaten on all competitions.
“We have done fantastic since the restart. These are the games that matter. That is the thing at Manchester United, you have to step up and show your personality,” he said.
Solskjaer’s side were not at their best in South London and survived a scare just before the break when Wilfried Zaha went down under challenge from Victor Lindelof but referee Graham Scott turned down the penalty appeal.
Moments later, Rashford put United in front, his smart footwork sending the Palace defence the wrong way before he coolly slotted home.
Mid-table Palace thought they had drawn level in the 55th minute when Jordan Ayew slid in a low cross from Wilfried Zaha but the goal was ruled out for the tightest of offsides after a VAR review.
United made sure of victory, vital after Leicester’s 2-0 win over Sheffield United, when Bruno Fernandes and Rashford combined smartly to feed Martial who held off Scott Dann and drove in the second.
“It was a tight game and we didn’t get the rhythm in our passing but two fantastic goals won it for us,” said Solskjaer.
Palace, who have now lost six games in a row, suffered a blow when defender Patrick van Aanholt was taken off on a stretcher after colliding with Martial and sustaining what appeared to be a serious shoulder or arm injury.