JESSE LINGARD scored an extra-time bullet to hand Manchester United their first FA Cup for 12 years and ensure that Louis van Gaal will not leave Old Trafford empty-handed, landing the club’s first major trophy since Sir Alex Ferguson announced his retirement three years ago.
His team made life hard for themselves, and Palace were on course for a shock victory after substitute Jason Puncheon had put them ahead with just 12 minutes of normal time remaining, but United equalised through Juan Mata almost immediately, following a brilliant run by Wayne Rooney and chest down by Marouane Fellaini.
Eagles manager Alan Pardew was thus left with immediate egg on his face, as the sharp-suited coach was spotted cutting some dance moves on the touchline following their goal, with the response on social media veering from hilarity to derision.
The winner came in the 111th minute, with Lingard’s strike evoking memories of Lee Martin’s dramatic winner in the 1990 final, when these two sides met at the old Wembley, with the strike following Chris Smalling’s red card late in the first period of extra time.
A degree of farce enveloped proceedings both before and after the game, with a ridiculous build-up including columns of shooting flame, a puzzling cameo from Tiny Tempah, and the singer tasked with the national anthem missing her cue, with the bunkum delaying kick off by five minutes.
Later, within minutes of United lifting the trophy, a series of renowned media outlets reported in unison that Louis van Gaal would be sacked, with Jose Mourinho appointed in his place, the latest in a long line of managerial gaffes by the club.
The leak is reminiscent of David Moye’s departure, when the Scottish manager learned of his own dismissal from media reports before being informed by the club.
Other than Smalling’s red card, the other major disappointment for United was the second-half injury to young striker Marcus Rashford, which may threaten his participation in England’s Euro 2016 preparations.
The latter also got underway yesterday, as a youthful-looking England side beat Turkey 2-1 at the Etihad Stadium with goals from Harry Kane and Jamie Vardy, who is having a different kind of party later this week, as he will miss Friday’s friendly with Australia in order to tie the knot.
England lined up in both 4-3-3 and 4-4-2 diamond formations during the game, with the latter proving more effective, as they saw off a Turkish team that will also appear at the summer tournament having been unbeaten since November 2014.