Jose Mourinho admitted Manchester United were lucky after they needed an injury-time winner to come from two goals down to beat struggling Crystal Palace 3-2.
United, on the back of successive Premier League away defeats, started poorly at Selhurst Park and were left with a mountain to climb following goals from Andros Townsend and Patrick van Aanholt.
But they showed resilience to battle back as Nemanja Matic’s superb late strike from distance moved them back into second above Liverpool after Chris Smalling and Romelu Lukaku had brought them level.
Manager Mourinho was unhappy with his side’s sloppy defending – particularly allowing Van Aanholt to score the second from a quick free-kick – while praising their character.
“A remarkable comeback, but we made mistakes. Fantastic comeback, but mistakes,” said Mourinho.
“The first goal is a bad goal. We started badly once more, not pressing the ball or the opponent and giving them too much space.
“In the second half we were all expecting a direct comeback, and then we concede a goal that is a good goal to show the kids in the academies in the country.
“It shows top players can concede silly goals.
“But then the attitude, the intensity, the quality, the dynamic, the risk were fantastic.
“We needed that little bit of luck to win in the last minute.
“But I’d say we deserved that because the dominance in that last half-hour was huge.”
Roy Hodgson’s dogged hosts out-fought their opponents in the opening period, taking advantage of some sloppy play and poor passing.
They also had an excellent chance to regain the lead at 2-2 when United goalkeeper David De Gea somehow repelled Christian Benteke’s powerful, close-range header.
“Palace did very, very well. Roy was aggressive. Roy was clever,” added Mourinho.
“He went direct and tried to bring the emotion to the game to his team, which he did, and they were always dangerous.
“Even in the moment when it looks like everything was in our control, David had to make a phenomenal save from Benteke.
“It’s very hard for them to lose and go home without a single point, because they gave absolutely everything.”
Eagles boss Hodgson endured late frustration for the second successive game.
Matic’s 25-yard strike followed an 88th-minute winner from Tottenham’s Harry Kane last weekend.
Relegation-threatened Palace remain third bottom – a point from safety – having failed to win for the sixth successive game.
Asked what he felt following the last-gasp loss, Hodgson replied: “Sadness. Total sadness.
“I saw a group of players give their all for the club, for their team-mates, against, on paper, against all the odds.
“To come away with nothing, as we did against Tottenham Hotspur, for the second time in a row… I feel very sad for them.
“Proud of the performance. I can’t criticise any player or person for the effort they put in, their discipline tactically. It’s just one of those things.
“Matic scores a worldy from 30 metres. If that had gone out or gone wide, we’d be sitting here looking at another good performance and another good point.
“As a result, everything gets changed as a result.”