91 touches, 3 shots on target: Matic was more than impressive for Man United than any other player

91 touches, 3 shots on target: Matic was more than impressive for Man United than any other player

Monday night’s encounter between Crystal Palace and Manchester United provided us with a reminder of why the Premier League is regarded as the most exciting and exhilarating league in Europe.  

The Eagles looked all set for an upset victory having gotten a two-goal lead courtesy of strikes from Andros Townsend and Patrick van Aanholt on either side of half-time. And judging by how Jose Mourinho’s United side had played for the first 50 minutes or so, one would have thought the game was dead and buried. 

But, as had been the case very often with United sides of yesteryears, Mourinho’s brigade also sparked a turnaround with Chris Smalling pulling one back before Romelu Lukaku reinstated the stalemate with 15 minutes left. The Red Devils continued to knock on the door but Palace managed to hold on until a moment of pure magic from Nemanja Matic in stoppage time sent hordes of United fans into a tizzy at Selhurst Park. 

The Serbian had struck a fantastic volley from outside the box, to score his first ever goal for United and in the process, had made sure the comeback had been completed. Three points for Mourinho’s team, second place reclaimed in the league standings. 

It is no secret that Matic has grown into a very important player for United since his £40million move from Chelsea last summer. And while his display against Palace was not quite up to the par, it still proved to be the difference on Monday night.  

Nemanja Matic

The Serbian powerhouse did not start the game on the best of notes and he did find it difficult to cope with Palace in the early stages. He was also culpable for the Eagles’ second goal, as he conceded the free-kick from which Palace caught United napping.  

However, he turned it out thereafter and was one of United’s better players in the last leg of the match as they pressed hard for a victory. Matic, on Monday night, had three shots at goal, one of which was a screamer that sealed the win for his team late in the game. Only Paul Pogba had more attempts (4) at goal from both teams.  

The former Chelsea man had 91 touches and completed a total of 63 passes out of an attempted 73, at an impressive accuracy of 86%, playing one key pass in the match. He completed all of his three attempted dribbles on the night, but will also be ruing the fact that he was dribbled past by an opponent on five occasions.  

Matic also failed to win a single tackle out of his five attempts against Palace and managed just one interception on the night. However, he did show strength in the aerial battles, winning 3 of his 5 headed duels. The 29-year old also affected 2 clearances in the game. He gave away one foul, that saw him earn a caution from the referee. 

It was not a brilliant performance by any means from Matic against Palace, especially after his masterclass last weekend against his former employers. But that stunning strike late in the game that helped his side end up on the winning side will be long cherished by the United fans.

Stats taken from whoscored.com

Written by Raghavendra Goudar

Mechanical Engineer, avid reader and a football fanatic.

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