The match programme cover
|Event||2015–16 FA Cup|
|After extra time|
|Date||21 May 2016|
|Venue||Wembley Stadium, London|
|Man of the Match||Wayne Rooney (Manchester United)|
|Referee||Mark Clattenburg (County Durham)|
The 2016 FA Cup Final was the 135th final of the FA Cup, the world's oldest football cup competition. The match was contested between Crystal Palace and Manchester United in a repeat of the 1990 FA Cup Final. It was refereed by Mark Clattenburg, from Consett, County Durham.
The winners Manchester United qualified for the 2016 FA Community Shield and the group stage of the 2016–17 UEFA Europa League. Since Manchester United had also qualified for the Europa League group stage based on their league position, Southampton entered the group stage (taking the league spot from Manchester United instead of their original spot in the third qualifying round), while Southampton's spot in the third qualifying round was given to West Ham United as the highest placed Premier League team not already qualified for European competitions.
This was the most recent FA Cup triumph for United. It was also manager Louis van Gaal's only trophy for United, and ultimately the last of his football career. The match was broadcast live in the United Kingdom by both BBC and BT Sport. BBC provided the free-to-air coverage and BT Sport 1 was the pay-TV alternative.
Manchester United went into the final with a record of 11 wins from 18 FA Cup finals, one win and appearance behind Arsenal in FA Cup wins and FA Cup Final appearances respectively. United last played a final in 2007, the first at the new Wembley, where they lost 1–0 after extra time to Chelsea. Their last victory in the competition was in 2004, a 3–0 win against Millwall at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium. Crystal Palace's only previous FA Cup final was the aforementioned 1990 final, which they lost to Manchester United after a replay.
|4th||Stoke City (H)||1–0|
|5th||Tottenham Hotspur (A)||1–0|
|Key: (H) = Home venue; (A) = Away venue; (N) = Neutral venue.|
As a Premier League team, Crystal Palace started in the third round. They were drawn away at fellow Premier League team Southampton. At St Mary's Stadium on 9 January, Crystal Palace won 2–1 with goals from Joel Ward and Wilfried Zaha either side of Oriol Romeu's equaliser.
In the fourth round, they hosted another top-flight team in the shape of Stoke City at Selhurst Park, and Zaha scored the only goal. For the third consecutive round they had Premier League opposition in the shape of Tottenham Hotspur in the fifth round on 21 February. At White Hart Lane, Crystal Palace won with Martin Kelly scoring the only goal at the end of the first half to advance to the quarter-finals for the first time since 1995.
There, they had their first game against a lower-division team, facing Championship side Reading at the Madejski Stadium. A 2–0 win through Yohan Cabaye and Fraizer Campbell put them into the last four, again for the first time in 21 years. On 24 April at Wembley, Palace faced Watford in a repeat of the 2013 Football League Championship play-off Final. They took the lead through Yannick Bolasie, and Watford equalised when Troy Deeney headed in a corner from José Manuel Jurado. In the 61st minute, Palace found their winning goal as Connor Wickham headed from a Pape Souaré cross.
|3rd||Sheffield United (H)||1–0|
|4th||Derby County (A)||3–1|
|5th||Shrewsbury Town (A)||3–0|
|West Ham United (H)
West Ham United (A)
|Key: (H) = Home venue; (A) = Away venue; (N) = Neutral venue.|
As a Premier League team, Manchester United entered in the third round, hosting Sheffield United of League One at Old Trafford on 9 January 2016. They got their first shot on target through substitute Memphis Depay, who was fouled in second half stoppage time by Dean Hammond for a penalty kick, from which Wayne Rooney scored the only goal with United's only other shot on target. Manager Louis van Gaal was under pressure for Manchester United's poor form prior to the match, and the victory was compared to one in the same competition in 1990, in which a goal by Mark Robins reportedly saved the career of Alex Ferguson.
Twenty days later in the next round, United travelled to Pride Park to play Derby County, situated in the play-off places in the Championship. Rooney scored the first goal from outside the penalty area, but George Thorne soon equalised. In the second half, further United goals by Daley Blind and Juan Mata relieved Van Gaal of further pressure; it was the first time in 15 games that the team won by a margin of more than one goal.
On 22 February, United played the fifth round away at League One strugglers Shrewsbury Town. Chris Smalling opened the scoring, and Mata doubled the advantage in first-half added time. Jesse Lingard confirmed a 3–0 win with about half an hour left to play; in the closing stages United had to play with only 10 men when Will Keane was injured and no substitutes remained.
United hosted their sixth-round match against top-flight opponents West Ham United on 13 March. The visitors took the lead via a free-kick from Dimitri Payet, and only seven minutes remained when the hosts equalised with Anthony Martial's close-range finish. A month later, the game went to a replay, the final FA Cup match at the Boleyn Ground. A curled effort from Marcus Rashford gave Manchester United a lead in the second half, and the lead was doubled by Marouane Fellaini. West Ham halved the deficit late on after James Tomkins' header passed into David de Gea's net, and they threatened an equaliser but could not achieve it.
On 23 April, Manchester United travelled to Wembley to play Everton in the semi-finals. Martial assisted Fellaini to open the scoring against his former team, giving a half-time lead. After the break, a penalty was given when Timothy Fosu-Mensah fouled Ross Barkley, but De Gea saved the spot-kick after Romelu Lukaku took it. Everton brought on Gerard Deulofeu whose cross was put into United's net via a Chris Smalling own goal to level the scores. In added time, Ander Herrera set up Martial for the winner.
A bomb scare at Old Trafford on the final day of the Premier League meant that Manchester United's game with Bournemouth had to be called off, eventually being rearranged for the following Tuesday, 17 May. The incident meant that United had four days to prepare for the final, two days less than Crystal Palace.
Each club received an allocation of 28,780 tickets. This was an increase on previous seasons from 71% of available seats for supporters of the two opposing teams to 80%. All tickets prices were also reduced by £5 each.
An inaugural tournament was held on 7 May in which a fan of each of the 64 teams who reached the third round competed in a knock-out football video game tournament in rooms around Wembley Stadium. The prize was tickets to the actual final.
Tinie Tempah performed his songs "Girls Like" and "Written in the Stars" alongside The Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust Choir and DJ Charlesy ahead of kick-off. The national anthem was sung by Karen Harding.
Crystal Palace took the lead in the 78th minute when Jason Puncheon brought the ball down from a ball played into the penalty box by Joel Ward and cut in on the left before firing past David de Gea at his near post with his left foot. Manager Alan Pardew celebrated this goal by doing a dance on the touchline. Juan Mata equalised in the 81st minute, scoring from ten yards out with a low shot from the left after a chest down from Marouane Fellaini following a cross from Wayne Rooney on the right, with the ball taking a slight deflection and going through the legs of Joel Ward on the goal line. The match went to extra-time and just before the end of the first period, Chris Smalling was sent-off for a tackle on Yannick Bolasie near the halfway line. With 10 minutes to go, Jesse Lingard scored the winner for Manchester United with a right foot volley from inside the penalty area which flew past Wayne Hennessey before he could move.
|Crystal Palace||1–2 (a.e.t.)||Manchester United|
|Puncheon 78'||Report||Mata 81'