(English Premier League) Crystal Palace dismantle disjointed Man USports | 20 Sep 2020 5:53 pm
Manchester United began the Premier League campaign with a performance as disjointed as its offseason.
Maybe the 3-1 home loss to Crystal Palace on Saturday shouldn't really have come as a surprise.
After all, United only ended a pandemic-prolonged 2019-20 season 33 days ago with a demoralizing loss to Sevilla in the Europa League semifinals. Since then, high-profile midfielder Paul Pogba contracted the coronavirus, captain Harry Maguire was convicted of assault in Greece (he has been granted a retrial), and young star Mason Greenwood was dropped by England _ and made to train alone _ for breaching coronavirus rules.
To top it all off, United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was without the majority of his squad for more than a week because of international commitments.
There was the sight of Pogba repeatedly giving the ball away. Maguire and fellow center half Victor Lindelof constantly got twisted and turned. Marcus Rashford was peripheral on the left wing. Greenwood only played the second half.
Meanwhile, Palace _ battle-hardened after a more intense preseason and an opening-day win over Southampton last weekend _ simply picked off United at an empty Old Trafford.
Townsend scored the opening goal in the seventh minute and former United winger Wilfried Zaha netted twice in the final 16 minutes, the first being a retaken penalty after United goalkeeper David de Gea was adjudged to have encroached before saving the initial spot kick taken by Jordan Ayew.
The only positive for United was a debut goal for offseason signing Donny van de Beek, who came off the bench and made it 2-1 in the 80th with a precise finish following a mistake by Palace.
On a day when 21 goals were scored in four games, there were also wins for Everton, Leeds and Arsenal.