The game was still on a knife edge but United started to pile on the pressure and the nearly inevitable breakthrough came when the ball fell to the visitors' Serbia midfielder Matic who instinctively struck a superb shot into the top corner. And for the second time, those same fans missed the all-important moment, hearing the roar from platform one.
United showed improvement after going 2-0 down and used the width well.
Mourinho said after the game that his half-time team talk, with United 1-0 down, had been too colourful to repeat in his postmatch interviews. There are cycles lasting a couple of weeks where all seems well, followed by a run when it doesn't. However, Liverpool have a great chance to take over second place. However, Manchester United became eligible for European competition because they won the Europa League last season. The outcome of one game made it a success.
Townsend had continued to impress after scoring the opening goal.
"All the other ones [including Wilfried Zaha] that were out are still injured".
Those good vibes persist only until the next game. The team overturned a 2-0 deficit at Selhurst Park in a swashbuckling encounter with end to end action.
Mourinho, 55, admitted he tore into his players during the half-time interval after falling behind to struggling Crystal Palace.
I spoke to several at the break and they were not confident of holding onto their lead.
"We're back in the relegation zone but after seven games we were eight points adrift and everyone told me we were already down".
Liverpool's front three of Salah, Mane and Firmino are unstoppable when they click through the gears at pace and Mourinho and United will be fearing what they can do to them if they are fresh and ready to be unleashed.
United have been looking shaky at the back.
They were given early encouragement by Mourinho's men, who were playing as though it was nothing more than a Sunday morning kick-about in the park.United paid the price for their lethargic start in the 11th minute.
Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson says it's tough for his players to take nothing from the defeat.
"This season against Benfica, it was half a goal for him and half a goal for the Benfica goalkeeper [Mile Svilar]".
"He scored a winning goal in Lisbon in the Champions League against Sporting; he's scored a few goals - not many - but he's scored a few goals".
It lifts United back into second place, and ideal timing because third-place Liverpool is next on Saturday morning.
The club's decision not to get involved in a bidding war with local rivals Manchester United for Alexis Sanchez despite long-standing interest, and even though Guardiola had previously worked with the Chilean at Barcelona, was another vote of City's confidence in their all-time top goalscorer.
Then Romelu Lukaku got on the score sheet with a hilarious goal that just sounds better with the Spanish commentary, finishing low after a ball hit the crossbar.
"We were fuming", said Pat Euston, for the second time in an hour as he sat at the station which bears his name.