LONDON, April 21: A potential preview of next month�s FA Cup Final saw Manchester United full-back Matteo Darmian emerge as their attacking salvation, a fact that neatly sums up so many of the frustrations that have afflicted Louis van Gaal�s season.
United supporters, who saw a victory over Crystal Palace keep alive hopes of a top-four finish, certainly seem at the end of their tether, with the unfamiliar sight of numerous empty seats around Old Trafford but thanks to their Italian defender, those supporters can still dream of lifting the FA Cup and winning a place in the Champions League over the concluding weeks of the campaign.
Of the two managers plotting for the weekend�s FA Cup semifinals, Alan Pardew certainly allowed the pending Wembley visit to effect his team selection, making seven changes to a Palace team which has won just one league game since Christmas and which quickly found itself behind to a goal of its own making.
Darmian�s run down the left-hand by-line was enterprising enough but there appeared no red shirts in threatening positions as Damien Delaney stuck out his right leg and steered the ball past Julian Speroni � a finish of which Wayne Rooney would have been proud.
More goals could have quickly followed as United, in a fashion so out of keeping with so much of their disappointing season to date, poured forward with intent.
It was in the 54th minute when Rashford tumbled under a Martin Kelly challenge but Mata advanced and won a corner after Speroni turned his shot into the side netting, a set-piece from which United finally doubled their lead. � Agencies