Man United 1 Crystal Palace 2: Lessons from a Carling Cup upset
What did we learn from Crystal Palace's 2-1 victory against Manchester United at Old Trafford in Carling Cup quarter-finals?
Dimitar Berbatov infuriates again
After last week’s performance against Benfica, the Bulgarian must have had sights on more playing time in the Premier League and Europe. Tonight’s clash was another chance to convince Sir Alex Ferguson that he deserves more games, especially considering United’s recent struggles in front of goal. Frustratingly, Berbatov appeared disinterested against opposition he should dominate against. He didn’t look to link up and rarely got on the ball during the first half. One can only imagine the reception he received from Ferguson at half-time, when he was deservedly withdrawn. Tonight’s performance was further proof that Ferguson has fallen out of love with the enigmatic forward.
Brazilian twins struggle to make the grade
Rafael and Fabio arrived at Old Trafford in July 2008 to claims of the duo manning the wing-back positions for years. Unfortunately, they haven’t developed as the club would have hoped and tonight’s tie only proved to be further evidence of this. Now into their fourth season at Old Trafford, they have both shown promise at times but the same problems keep arising. They have become increasingly blighted by injuries and both were once again withdrawn injured against Crystal Palace. More worryingly, they seem to be a potential red card in every game they play. The eagerness in their play leads to rash challenges and Fabio was again booked tonight for diving in on Wilfried Zaha. It is an element of their game which must be improved if they are to make the grade at the club.
Crystal Palace had the best talent on show
Much has been made of a few youngsters coming through the ranks at Old Trafford, but in Zaha, Crystal Palace had the best promising talent on the pitch. United can be reasonably pleased with Ravel Morrison, who showed his rare talent in glimpses but was unable to rescue the home side from defeat. As for Paul Pogba, he is no Patrick Vieira – yet. Zaha showed the confidence and directness needed in a young winger and gave Fabio a torrid time in the first half. He has pace and power and although he lacked an end product at times, he showed enough to justify interest from some Premier League clubs. He can only get better after this experience and will hope to add to his three goals in the Carling Cup this season against Cardiff City in the semi-finals.
Both sides reflected their support
There are bigger ties to come this season that will enthuse the Old Trafford faithful a little more than tonight. The atmosphere was completely flat and some fans were heading to the exits before extra-time, while the remainder only arose from a slumber as United chased the game late on. The team appeared to followed suit as they showed no urgency on the pitch. Palace’s travelling supporters were raucous throughout – and the away side were spurred on by their followers and never stopped running, taking the game to their opponents and thoroughly deserved the victory. In extra time, Palace found something extra and their 12th man must take some credit for their part in the victory.
A goal worthy of winning any game
It wasn’t technically the winning goal, but Darren Ambrose’s wonder-goal in the second half deserved to be. From all of 35 yards, Ambrose let fly into the top corner with an unstoppable strike, in what is surely the goal of his career. To win at grounds like Old Trafford, smaller teams often need a moment of magic to overcome the English champions and Ambrose delivered with one of the best goals at the ground in recent seasons.