Jose Mourinho attributed Manchester United’s fantastic come-back to his second-half substitutions, as well as a slice of luck.
The Portuguese lamented his team’s inability to come out of half-time and get themselves instantly back in the game, instead allowing Patrick van Aanholt to double the home side’s lead after a quick free-kick from Palace.
But Mourinho had brought on Marcus Rashford at half-time and took off both his full-backs, Antonio Valencia and Ashley Young, off with less than half an hour remaining, to bring on Juan Mata and Luke Shaw. Mata slotted in on the right flank and Jesse Lingard became a ‘fake’ right-back, Mourinho said.
Those two decisions changed the game, with Mata playing a key part in Man United’s significant improvement from that point onwards.
“The players kept an amazing attitude,” Mourinho said first. “Juan Mata was finding spaces inside, Marcus Rashford was open on the left and brought their right-back wide to give us more space in the middle.
“You always need that little bit of luck to win a match in the last few minutes. Sometimes the winner is the one who deserves the congratulations but I think Roy Hodgson did everything right.
“I cannot tell you half of the things I told my team at half-time because there would be lots of bleeping on television. But what I can say was all about the tactical positioning.
“To come back from 2-0 down away from home against a team that is desperate for points, it gives us a great feeling.”
With United now preparing to face Liverpool at Old Trafford next Saturday lunchtime, it’s a fantastic come back that leaves the Reds on a high. A loss at Palace, which would have allowed Liverpool to stay in second in the Premier League, would have been disastrous going into a huge game.
While Mourinho has failed to guide United near Manchester City in the title race, nothing less than second will now do. A win against their historic rivals on Saturday is a must, and the confidence boost of a comeback away from home will help with that.