Manchester United beat Burnley 3-1 at Old Trafford in the Premier League, hitting back for their dreadful 1-1 draw with Newcastle United at the start of the week. United end 2021 on a high with three more points in the bag following a season riddled with problems. Ralf Rangnick will be happy with his undefeated start. Scott McTominay opened the scoring in the eighth minute of the match with what seemed like a Jadon Sancho goal coming twenty minute later – which was then confirmed as a Ben Mee own goal. Cristiano Ronaldo scored his 14th goal of the season with Aaron Lennon scoring a consolation three minutes later.
United started the match finely against Burnley, seeking to nail them down and dominate the match. It was a clear indication that the players recognised that Monday’s draw with Newcastle United was not good enough. United took the lead through Scott McTominay, scoring his first goal of the season, assisted by Cristiano Ronaldo in the eighth minute of the match with a find finish on goal. There will be some that still criticise the player but his passion and work rate are second to none at times. There is a reason why Jose Mourinho, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and now Rangnick have all trusted the Scotland international.
United continued to attack Burnley, who had lost many first team players through coronavirus and injury of late. Just twenty minutes after the opening goal, United had scored a second. Jadon Sancho, assisted by Luke Shaw was the player that seemed to score the goal but it was eventually given as an own goal by Ben Mee. It was still a second goal for United – and after Monday’s result, it will be well received. Rangnick seemed happy on the sidelines with his side going 2-0 up before half an hour had passed. It seemed that United were in the mood to attack and score goal, even if they had ‘technically’ only scored one so far this evening.
In the 35th minute of the match, Ronaldo got himself on the scoresheet for the 14th time this season, which shows just how successful he has been as a player – even at the age of 36. McTominay had a shot saved in the split second before Ronaldo scored tapping his shot with his right foot from the centre of the box. United were 3-0 clear and looked set to win another three points in the Premier League, which were much needed this season, especially at a time where United wanted to break into the top four. The clean sheet was short-lived though as Aaron Lennon scored what seemed a consolation goal three minutes later.
There were no changes for either side at the start of the second half but United would need to ensure they kept this lead as Burnley would be seeking to fight back, seeing the weaknesses of this United team against Newcastle, who were in a worse position than them in the league this season. Burley made their first substitution in the 58th minute with Jack Cork replacing Dale Stephens. United made their first substitution eight minutes later with Raphael Varane replacing Eric Bailly, who seemed to receive a knock in the minutes before coming off – which did not look all that good knowing his history of silly injuries.
Before the substitution, United had a good chance through Sancho with McTominay getting the ball and hitting towards the goal, just heading over the crossbar. Edinson Cavani had a good shot on goal around the 70th minute, seemingly hitting Wayne Hennessy in the face with the Welshman being praised for a great save – which I’m not sure he knew all that much about. Matej Vydra replaced Lennon for Burnley in the 74th minute of the match, Burnley’s second substation of the game. In the 81st minute, United made a second substitution with Diogo Dalot replacing Mason Greenwood.
Burnley made their final substitution in the 84th minute of the match with Erik Pieters replacing Dwight McNeil. It seemed clear that no more goals were coming from either side and that United were just playing to keep the lead and the three points up for grabs in the game. Rangnick made his final substitution in added time with Fred replacing Ronaldo. It was a good win for United, who now have a few days rest before their next match. The busy month of December has been completed, despite two matches being postponed because of coronavirus. January is going to be just as busy, even with a week’s rest between the first matches of 2022.
United will welcome Wolverhampton Wanderers to the Theatre of Dreams on Monday evening in a 17:30 kick off – more working in the dark for United. A week later they welcome Aston Villa to Old Trafford in the third round of the Emirates FA Cup with United coming up against Steven Gerrard for the first time seeking to remain in the draw for the fourth round of the domestic competition. Rangnick will be positive following his undefeated start at United but that first defeat will always be waiting like it is for any manager in this game. The January transfer window will be open in little more than 24 hours (at the time of writing this). Hopefully United have some plans.
Goals: Scott McTominay 8′, Ben Mee 27′ o/g, Cristiano Ronaldo 35′; Aaron Lennon 38′
Assists: Cristiano Ronaldo 8′
Manchester United: De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Bailly (Varane 66′), Maguire, Shaw; Greenwood (Dalot 81′), Matic, McTominay, Sancho; Cavani, Ronaldo (Fred 90+3)
Substitutes Not Used: Henderson; Telles; Lingard, Van de Beek; Rashford, Elanga
Written by John Walker