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Man Utd 1-2 Crystal Palace - Ambrose stunner sinks Premier League side

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By Stephen Clark

Thursday 01 December 2011

Manchester United 1

Macheda (pen) 68

Crystal Palace 2

Ambrose 65, Murray 97

Old Trafford, Manchester

Glenn Murray wrote his name into Crystal Palace folklore as his extra-time winner sprang the biggest shock of this season’s Carling Cup as Dougie Freedman’s Eagles knocked out Manchester United at Old Trafford.

The journeyman striker met a free kick from the left, earned by a wonderful piece of skill from Wilfried Zaha, planting a header past Ben Amos from six yards out. Palace then defended heroically in the closing stages to earn the a deserved victory and a place in the semi-finals.

Sir Alex Ferguson used his fringe players as usual for the Carling Cup. Lining up in a 4-4-2 formation, Chris Smalling and Jonny Evans were flanked by the Brazilian twins Fabio and Rafael da Silva in the back four. The midfield saw Darron Gibson and Ji-Sung Park in the central areas with Antonio Valencia and Mame Diouf wide. Up front Dimitar Berbatov was given a rare outing alongside Frederico Macheda.

Freedman sent his Palace side out in a 4-3-3 formation full of pace. The main threats came from the wide men up front, Sean Scannel and Zaha flanking Jermaine Easter.

After taking or moment or two to settle, Palace were far the most threatening side on the opening 45 minutes. The threat posed by Zaha in particular caused all sorts of problems for Fabio and saw the United full-back lucky to escape with a clumsy challenge on the Ivorian. A clear push in the back as he attempted to latch onto a through ball looked like a free kick, and with the Palace player in on goal a red card could have been a possibility. Luckily for Fabio, Chris Foy waved play on.

Both sides were hampered by injuries with Fabio and Scannel limping off in an opening period that was absorbing rather than exciting with goal scoring opportunities at a premium. Palace looked the more likely but their shooting was poor, with no efforts troubling Ben Amos in the United goal.

Sir Alex was clearly unhappy with the United performance in the first-half, withdrawing the ineffective Berbatov and replacing him with youngster Ravel Morrison who instantly gave the home side more of a threat. He forced Palace keeper Lewis Price into a couple of saves, as United stepped up the pressure.

The home side were stunned however on 65 minutes when Darren Ambrose, a half-time substitute, lashed Palace in front with a 35 yard screamer which flew past Ben Amos into the top corner.

With a shock on the cards, United’s response was instant, as Palace skipper Paddy McCarthy pulled the shirt of Macheda inside the area, giving referee Foy no option but to point to the spot. The Italian stepped up to confidently stroke in the equaliser.

Neither side were able to make a breakthrough in the remaining 20 minutes sending the tie into extra time, and setting up Murray’s moment of glory.

Man Utd (4-4-2): Amos; Rafael (Pogba 64), Smalling, Evans, Fabio (Fryers 37); Valencia, Gibson, Park, Diouf; Macheda, Berbatov (Morrison 46)

Crystal Palace (4-3-3): Price; Clyne, McCarthy, Gardner, Moxey (Ambrose 46); Wright, O’Keefe, Dikgacoi; Scannel (Parr 45), Zaha, Easter (Murray 74)

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