Manchester United drifted further off the pace in the Premier League in a demoralising 0-0 home draw with struggling Crystal Palace on Saturday.
After their thrashing in the Manchester derby a fortnight ago, Jose Mourinho’s men – now some 14 points adrift of leaders City – offered only a limp response as the Eagles secured their first point in 12 league visits to Old Trafford.
Though on top early, United were fortunate not to fall behind in the 25th minute as an unmarked Van Aanholt scuffed wide on the end of a counter-attack.
Chris Smalling next nodded past the far post from a Juan Mata free-kick, before Jesse Lingard and Anthony Martial drew close-range saves from Wayne Hennessey.
Palace had the ball in the net moments before half-time, but Cheikhou Kouyate was adjudged to have strayed marginally offside in contesting the header with Victor Lindelof.
The visitors were more thankful to see the assistant’s flag raised 10 minutes after the interval as a tight call disallowed Romelu Lukaku’s follow-up finish to Ashley Young’s initial effort.
Mourinho turned to Marouane Fellaini for impact and the midfielder’s first act was to escape without caution for an ugly follow-through on Luka Milivojevic.
United were increasingly vulnerable and were given another reprieve when Townsend screwed his shot across the face of goal after squirming through a pair of challenges before Hennessey’s smart save from a Lukaku header at the other end ensured the points were fittingly shared.