Manchester United had to dig deep in the second-half after going a man down but still emerged 2-1 victors against Crystal Palace on Saturday.
Bruno Fernandes opened the scoring in the first-half through a penalty before Marcus Rashford made matters sure in the second-half with a smart finish.
But Palace have been a bogey team for the Red Devils in recent seasons, having not beaten them in the last two attempts. And the same scenario seemed to play out after Casemiro was shown a straight red for violent conduct.
Lisandro Martinez, the rock at the back
Former United triallist Jeffrey Schlupp reduced the arrears for the away side and threatened to equalise time and time again.
But one man who defended both with both brain and brawn was Lisandro Martinez and at times, he single-handedly defied the Eagles.
He is rightly considered a fan-favourite and while many have been impressed with his no-nonsense style of defending, the Argentine showed his smarts as well.
Mood 😤 @LisandrMartinez pic.twitter.com/zLmNsukLYn
— United Zone (@ManUnitedZone_) February 4, 2023
He knew just when to drop back and defend deep and when to push forward. His last-man clearance and pressing were imperious.
The 25-year-old made as many as five clearances while winning a mammoth seven duels to quell the Palace challenge.
After last season’s dismal defending, Erik ten Hag rightfully made improving the defence his first priority.
And the World Cup winner has changed the dynamics of the backline and despite his hefty price tag, he certainly seems like a bargain buy at this point.
ETH will have to deal with Casemiro absence
The team have shown resilience at times when they have come back to win games. It was nice to see that never-say-die attitude while trying to hold on as well.
The result will give the players a big boost in terms of confidence but the Dutchman will now have to contend with being without Casemiro for three games at least.
Marcel Sabitzer’s arrival could not have been better timed and his cameo showed that he will be up for the Leeds encounter coming up next.
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