Juan Mata came off the bench to provide the winner as Manchester United overcame a stubborn Crystal Palace at Old Trafford on Saturday night.
The Red Devils were utterly dominant for the majority of the game, but failed to make much of their possession.
Michael Carrick made his first start for the season and starred as the deepest of three central midfielders, with Daley Blind slotting into the middle of defence alongside Paddy McNair.
Antonio Valencia started at right full-back, while the ever-improving Luke Shaw manned the other side of defence and put in a solid shift.
Wayne Rooney and Marouane Fellaini played ahead of Carrick, with Angel di Maria and Adnan Januzaj running the left and right wings respectively.
Robin Van Persie started despite rumours of a potential start for James Wilson, who has been in good form for United’s under-21 side.
It did not take long for the game to settle into a familiar pattern.
Carrick pulled the strings from midfield and showed a brilliant range of passing and tackling to ensure United was never without the ball for too long, but his teammates ahead consistently failed to find a way through a stubborn Palace defence.
As solid as the Eagles were, there was little in the way of incisive movement of passing in the final third to make their lives too difficult.
Van Persie struggled throughout, while di Maria and Januzaj struggled to come up with much inspiration down the flanks.
United won a flurry of corners in the first half but di Maria’s delivery was inconsistent, even if the likes of Fellaini and McNair might have done better with some of his better balls in.
United created few chances of note in the first half outside of a great run and shot from Shaw which produced a fine save and it was the Eagles who had the best chance of the half when a mix up between McNair and Blind allowed ex-Red Frazier Campbell a glorious chance to put his side in the lead.
Campbell lacked the composure to take the chance and sent his shot high over the frame of David de Gea’s goal.
De Gea was untroubled throughout the first half and the same could be said of the second half as United continued to control the game.
With an hour gone, Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal made his move and brought on Mata for Januzaj.
The Spaniard gave the United offence an instant spark and it did not take long for him to register the match-winner.
Some nice interplay between Mata and di Maria saw the ball fall kindly to the Spanish international who did not need a second invitation to smash a shot home from just outside the box.
Palace keeper Julian Speroni will have felt he should have done better with Mata’s shot, which took a slight deflection, but the United midfielder hardly looked fussed as he emphatically celebrated a goal important for both team and individual.
He almost scored another piledriver shortly after when a lovely strike hit the post.
The rebound fell kindly to Van Persie, but the Dutchman could not find the back of the net when it seemed easier to score.
Palace had a small period of control shortly after but the Eagles were seen off well by the makeshift defence.
Di Maria was the next to be substituted with promising striker Wilson coming on and he too looked to make a big difference to United’s front end as the Red Devils went two up top.
Wilson’s pace and willingness to run at defenders made the youngster stand out and while he could not find much in the way of clear opportunities, his efforts will have done him no harm in van Gaal’s eyes.
The game finished after three minutes of stoppage time, with United securing a valuable three points on a night in which both Liverpool and Manchester City dropped points.