Michael Olise's spectacular stoppage-time free-kick ended Manchester United's nine-match winning run as Crystal Palace held them to a 1-1 draw at Selhurst Park on Wednesday.
United looked destined to go second in the Premier League thanks to Bruno Fernandes' first-half opener, but ultimately paid the price for their apparent decision to sit on the narrow lead.
Although it was United who survived the game's first scare when Palace hit the crossbar in the 40th minute, they were deserved leaders as Bruno Fernandes netted on the stroke of half-time.
But they committed far fewer bodies to attack in the second period and Olise made them pay, denying United the chance to enter the top two for the first time since September 2021.
Clear-cut opportunities had been hard to come by even for a United side boosted by the physical presence of debutant Wout Weghorst, whose 31st-minute header landed on the roof of the net.
They were lucky to remain level nine minutes later, as David de Gea tipped Odsonne Edouard's 20-yard strike onto the crossbar.
United took full advantage with their next attack, Fernandes emphatically slamming home after collecting Christian Eriksen's disguised cut-back.
The visitors were convinced they were due a penalty deep into an even tighter second half, but Chris Richards was not penalised for an apparent trip on substitute Scott McTominay.
Palace, who pushed forward desperately towards the end, then equalised in the first minute of stoppage time – Olise's 30-yard free-kick finding the top-right corner via the bar.
Casemiro – now set to miss the trip to Arsenal after being booked – might have got a dramatic winner, but the ball skimmed his thigh just a few yards out right at the end.
What does it mean? A missed opportunity as United's feel-good factor evaporates
It was all looking so good for United. After beating City, a win here was going to put them second and make it possible to close the gap on Arsenal to just three with another victory at the weekend.
Now they go into that game eight points adrift and without arguably their most important player in Casemiro, whose late booking could have seismic consequences for the Red Devils.
United's shot count halved from 10 to five after half-time, managing just one on target. Their lack of attacking impetus proved costly and almost undoes all the good work from the win over City.
Casemiro shows what United will be missing
Casemiro's yellow card was a moment of rashness in response to Fernandes inexplicably pulling out of a tackle. Not only was it a shame in the context of now being suspended, but it was a blemish on another excellent performance.
So often he was in the right place at the right time, with his eight tackles, five clearances, three interceptions and 14 recoveries all highs for United.
Wide players fail to produce
Marcus Rashford came into this in the form of his career, but he was extremely ineffective here, with none of his game-high four shots ever particularly threatening.
On the other flank, Antony was disappointing again as he regularly seemed to slow United's attacks, which attracted a verbal volley from captain Fernandes in the first half.
Key Opta Facts:
- United have failed to win a Premier League match when they have scored first for the first time since February against Southampton, having won 15 in a row before today.
- Only Tottenham (14) have won more points from losing positions in the Premier League this season than Crystal Palace (13).
- Palace's Michael Olise is the first player to score a 90th minute equaliser via a direct free-kick in a Premier League game since Lucas Digne in December 2018 for Everton against Watford.
- Fernandes has now scored 20 goals both home and away in the Premier League, one of only four players to have scored 20+ goals both home and away since his debut in February 2020, along with Harry Kane, Mohamed Salah and Son Heung-min.
- Since Eriksen returned to the Premier League (debut at Brentford on February 26th last year), only Kevin De Bruyne (16) and Dejan Kulusevski (12) have more Premier League assists than the United playmaker (11), while only De Bruyne (10) has more this season than Eriksen (7).
United go to leaders Arsenal on Sunday hoping to reduce the gap again. Palace host another of the top four a day earlier, when Newcastle United are at Selhurst Park.