Matic finishes mad Man U comeback

The Associated Press

Manchester United’s Nemanja Matic, foreground, celebrates after scoring against Crystal Palace in English Premier League action on Monday.

AFPLONDON (AFP-Jiji) — Nemanja Matic capped Manchester United’s stirring fightback from two goals down as the Serbia midfielder’s stunning strike snatched a dramatic 3-2 win at Crystal Palace on Monday.

Jose Mourinho’s side trailed to Andros Townsend’s early opener and Patrick van Aanholt’s second-half effort at Selhurst Park.

But Chris Smalling got one back for United and Romelu Lukaku equalized with 14 minutes remaining.

That set the stage for Matic to score for the first time since his move from Chelsea last year with a blistering blast from the edge of the area in stoppage time.

It was an escape act that seemed unlikely when United fell 2-0 behind after being out-fought and outplayed by a Palace team fighting gamely to avoid relegation.

But Mourinho will take heart from the way his players shrugged off their limp opening to move back above Liverpool into second place in the Premier League and within 16 points of runaway leaders Manchester City.

Third-bottom Palace deserved better, but it remains one point from safety after a heartbreaking loss.

While injury-hit Palace had struggled badly in recent weeks, it has often proved a thorn in the side of bigger clubs at Selhurst Park.

They were given early encouragement by Mourinho’s men, who were playing as though it was nothing more than a Sunday morning kick-about in the park.

United paid the price for their lethargic start in the 11th minute.

Christian Benteke was allowed to jink into the United penalty area unchecked by Smalling and when his pass picked out Townsend 18 yards from goal, the Palace winger unleashed a shot that took a wicked deflection off Lindelof as it looped past David De Gea.

United were nearly undone by more sloppy play when Matic conceded possession in midfield, but Palace striker Alexander Sorloth shot straight at De Gea.

With Matic and Paul Pogba rattled by Palace’s relentless pressing, United were unable to match its opponent’s intensity.

The out of form Pogba, dropped several times by Mourinho recently, was a major cause of the visitors’ woes as the France midfielder wasted possession and was caught out of position time and again.

He was playing so badly that United legend Gary Neville, working for Sky Sports, was moved to say: “It’s like everything he does is like a YouTube or Instagram video.

“It’s like it’s not serious, it’s like a joke to him in terms of the way he goes about things.”

Celta Vigo rallies past Las Palmas

MADRID (AP) — An 89th-minute goal by midfielder Pablo Hernandez helped Celta Vigo come from behind to beat relegation-threatened Las Palmas 2-1 in the Spanish league.

Celta moved up to ninth place, not far from the clubs fighting for a Europa League spot next season.

Las Palmas stayed 18th in the 20-team standings. It is one point behind Levante, the first team outside the relegation zone.Speech

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