Fred’s 77th-minute winner gave Manchester United a winning start under interim manager Ralf Rangnick.
A more active United performance appeared to go unrewarded against a tenacious Crystal Palace side until Fred scored first-time from Mason Greenwood’s lay-off, looping a magnificent 20-yard strike over Vicente Guaita and into the top corner.
It was only Fred’s second goal of the season, and United’s first back-to-back league victories since the middle of September.
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Rangnick’s side generated multiple decent chances before the Brazilian’s effort, but they never looked like they were going to score, and Guaita would have stopped an Alex Telles free-kick that skimmed the bar if it had been on target.
Indeed, Palace came close to winning at Old Trafford for the third season in a row when Jordan Ayew turned James Tomkins’ header across the face of goal and narrowly wide of the far post.
Rangnick followed in the footsteps of three of United’s previous four new managers since Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement in 2013 by winning his first match in charge, with Louis van Gaal the lone exception.
During Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s stint as manager, which ended last month, Fred was a frequent target of criticism.
The midfielder is a mainstay of a Brazil squad that dominated World Cup qualification in South America, as Michael Carrick pointed out during his three-match stint as United’s interim manager.
Despite this, he has never demonstrated that he is worth the £47 million United spent for him, either through goals or chances created.