Man United recovered from a woeful 50 minutes, during which they went two goals down, to restore parity with 15 minutes left through goals from Chris Smalling and Romelu Lukaku.
And with moments remaining, Matic sent supporters into a ecstasy with a thunderous volley from 30 yards that flew past Wayne Hennessey to take United back to second in the table.
Carrick later tweeted that he was urging the Serbian to refrain from pulling the trigger. Thankfully, the captain was out of earshot.
Last minute winners. ???????? Not many better feelings. Nemanja ???????????????? I was shouting to pass it. ???????? Shows what I know. Our fans were top drawer pic.twitter.com/378HmGyMEg
— Michael Carrick (@carras16) March 5, 2018
Marcus Rashford, who changed the game with his direct approach after coming on at half time, noted that he was having similar thoughts.
So was I carras ????????
— Marcus Rashford MBE (@MarcusRashford) March 5, 2018
In fact, you sense that more or less everyone involved with United was against seeing Matic launch another drive over the bar, while knackered Palace players – and desperate supporters – would have been happy with a wayward shot alleviating pressure and taking them closer to a first win over United since 1991.
And so, with the eyes of the world focused on that dropping ball, which fell so invitingly it seemed almost providential, time seemed to stop for a second.
Then came the explosion. Matic has scored some rip-snorters in his time, but this latest strike may well trump the lot.