(Corrects spelling of Andersen in paragraphs one and two)
MANCHESTER, England, Sept 30 (Reuters) - Manchester United slumped to their fourth defeat of the Premier League season as an early Joachim Andersen strike earned Crystal Palace a 1-0 win at Old Trafford on Saturday.
Having tasted defeat in their previous home league match, against Brighton and Hove Albion, the below-par hosts again found themselves behind in the 25th minute as Andersen arrowed into the top corner.
With plenty of time to find a leveller on home turf, clear-cut chances remained few and far between in the Manchester rain, with Palace goalkeeper Sam Johnstone enjoying a quiet afternoon.
Mason Mount missed United's clearest opening in the second half, with Palace seeing out a victory that moved the visitors up to ninth in the standings, one place above the 20-time top-flight champions.
With nine points and a -4 goal difference, this is United’s worst-ever start to a Premier League season after seven games. The last time they suffered a worse start to a top-flight campaign was in 1989-90.
"We got into good positions and we had free players," coach Erik ten Hag said. "We didn't have an impact. The quality was just not good enough in that part of the game. The final part of the game we didn't play our best game.
"Of course it is frustrating. We were also many times close. You have to be sharp and clinical. It's about decision making. We can't change this result anymore. You always learn from the game and learn to do better."
United lost convincingly to Brighton two weeks ago to bring an end to their 31-game unbeaten run at Old Trafford in all competitions.
Erik ten Hag's team had not lost consecutive home games since losing to Liverpool and Manchester City in October and November 2021 prior to Palace's visit, and the early signs were good.
Big money close-season signing Rasmus Hojlund went close to an early opener as he lofted the ball over Johnstone only to see his effort cleared off the line.
However, Andersen's bolt out of the blue, an arrowing strike into the top corner after being left all alone from a free kick, gave home supporters a sinking feeling once more.
The hosts struggled to create further openings of note in the first period, but came out for the second half with added impetus, with Johnstone immediately forced into two fine saves.
After Mount's chance came and went, other than a few goalmouth scrambles as things got desperate, Palace remained largely untroubled, with boos ringing around Old Trafford at the final whistle.
Palace boss Roy Hodgson is now the first manager to string together five unbeaten Premier League visits to Old Trafford in a row.
"I'm not even saying I could tell you about all the other games that have gone before," he said. "But I'm pretty certain I would have been pretty delighted after those as well." (Reporting by Peter Hall; Editing by Hugh Lawson and Toby Davis)