Manchester United returned to winning ways with a 2-1 triumph over Crystal Palace in the Premier League’s late kick off on Saturday evening.
The Red Devils headed into the match on the back of a three-match losing streak, a slump which had seen them loosen their grip on the top four places and a return to the Champions League.
However, they started strongly and were ahead after 19 minutes.
Juan Mata fired home from the spot after Scott Dann was adjudged to have handled the ball in the box.
The first half was halted for an extended stoppage soon afterwards as Luke Shaw received a hand in the face from James McArthur. The England left-back was stretchered off with what looked worryingly like a broken nose.
Just before the hour mark, Palace were level.
Chris Smalling was punished when he challenged Glenn Murray for the ball and Puncheon stepped up to take the resulting free kick.
The former Southampton man struck his shot sweetly, and despite a notable deflection from the arm of Daley Blind, deserves credit for beating David De Gea.
The Spanish goalkeeper and Real Madrid target made amends soon afterwards with a marvellous save, and it was to prove crucial as United went on to claim three points.
The Red Devils retook the lead 12 minutes before the end when Marouane Fellaini struck home from inside the box.
The result keeps United in pole position to return to the Champions League, as they now sit seven points ahead of Liverpool having played a game more. Van Gaal will know that he has De Gea to thank!