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Published: 21:42 | 20/4/16

Man Utd breeze past Crystal Palace

17 Premier League clean sheets for United this season

A Damien Delaney own goal and a Matteo Darmian thunderbolt helped Manchester United stroll to a 2-0 Premier League victory over Crystal Palace.

On a low-key, low-octane night at Old Trafford, United barely needed to break sweat to secure the three points that keeps up the pressure on Arsenal in the fourth and final Champions League position.

Louis van Gaal's side are now one point behind the Gunners with four games to go, although Arsene Wenger's side play their game in hand against West Brom at the Emirates on Thursday.

The Old Trafford perimeter boards carried advertisements for the Soccer Aid game at the stadium on 5 June, and the early stages of the match had the feel of a charity kick-a-ball kickabout, with both sets of supporters muted and plenty of empty seats on show.

Both sides feature in the FA Cup semi-finals at Wembley this weekend, but only one side really needed the Premier League points, with Palace now finally free of the threat of relegation following the win over Norwich on 9 April and subsequent draws against Everton and Arsenal.

And it didn't take long for United to claim them, with the opening goal of the game coming after just four minutes.

It came in slight bizarre circumstances, as former Republic of Ireland defender Delaney, under no pressure in his own six-yard box, hacked a low Darmian cross from the left past Eagles' goalkeeper Julian Speroni and into his own net.

United then proceeded to play keep ball for the rest of the half, with Wayne Rooney impressing in a more withdrawn role behind striker Marcus Rashford.

Any threat came from Academy graduate Rashford, who at the age of 18 has already shown enough football intelligence with his movement and link-up play to suggest he will not be a half-season wonder.

Rashford's best moment came midway through the half, when his no-look pass found Jesse Lingard down the right-hand edge of the area, but the winger looked for the pass across goal when he really needed to just put his laces through the ball.

Speroni then produced an acrobatic block to deny Anthony Martial five minutes before the break, as United broke at pace following a mistake from Martin Kelly.

If that save was for the benefit of the photographers behind his goal, the Argentine's one-handed stop to deny Juan Mata at his near post on 55 minutes was top class.

But it counted for little, as United doubled their lead from the resulting corner, with Darmian drilling a half-volley from the edge of the area past Speroni via the left-hand post to net his first goal for the club.

United, after this sixth successive league win at Old Trafford, will now turn their attention to the FA Cup and Saturday's semi-final against Everton at Wembley.

Judging by this under-par performance Palace, who face Watford in the second semi-final the following day, already have.

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