Manchester United beat Burnley 1-0 at Turf Moor in the Premier League on Tuesday evening. It puts Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side three points clear of Liverpool at the top of the Premier League table. Paul Pogba scored the only goal of the match after playing the ball out to Marcus Rashford on the right with the England forward playing back to the Frenchman whose effort was slightly deflected into the back of the net. Bruno Fernandes did not have the best of matches, but played a part. Anthony Martial will be a worry, coming off injured late into added time. The positivity is that United are top of the league and deserve it.
Burnley started well at Turf Moor with former United academy player Bobbie Brady getting forward immediately after a diagonal cross into Ashley Barnes before the forward was outmuscled by Aaron Wan-Bissaka which saw Brady receive the ball on the right but he then shot wildly over the target. Burnley had another chance in the seventh minute but Harry Maguire made a crucial block. United got a chance in the 17th minute with Luke Shaw fizzing a cross from the left with Anthony Martial dummying the ball for Bruno Fernandes, who shot straight at Nick Pope.
United then got another chance in the 19th minute with Marcus Rashford slipping the ball into Fernandes behind the Burnley defence. Martial then peeled away from his marker and went for an overhead kick which was blocked before it reached the target. Burnley had the chance to open the scoring again in the 22nd minute after Fernandes gave away possession but Eric Bailly, deflecting the ball with it eventually going wide of the target despite David De Gea being wrong-footed. United had another chance in the 25th minute with Nemanja Matic firing into Martial, whose shot was poorly placed wide of the target.
In the 28th minute, there was some drama. Brady was booked for a challenge on Edinson Cavani after a foul on the edge of the box. Then, the referee was called to the VAR screen to see a challenge by Shaw moments earlier, to cut a long story short saw Shaw booked and Brady have his card eradicated for the challenge. United found the back of the net through Maguire in the 37th minute of the match through a header but the goal was scrapped by VAR for a foul in the box. There was a penalty shout the next minute after Cavani attempted a bicycle kick which struck Ben Mee, but it was not a penalty.
Martial found Fernandes in the 42nd minute in space at the edge of the box. He sent a teasing ball to the back post which Cavani attacked. Rashford did not gamble as the Uruguayan send both central defenders out towards him as the ball went out of play. Pope then stopped Martial in the 45th minute com curling an opener into the top corner. In added time at the end of the half, Fernandes was booked for dissent at the end of a frustrating period for United, who should have perhaps done more than they did in their quest to top the Premier League table ahead of their clash with Liverpool on Sunday.
United had a chance in the 52nd minute after De Gea picked out Paul Pogba on the halfway line with a long throw and Pogba then worked hard to drive away from three Burnley players before finding Fernandes in the final third. The Portuguese midfielder released Martial on the overlap and he centred a low cross that was begging to be swept in but Cavani failed to get on the end of it with Pope making an easy save to deny United once again. United needed to be much better than this, especially with Liverpool on the horizon and the fact they will ensure they take all of their chances.
Pogba started to have more of an impact in the 57th minute after skipping away from two challenges in the area before crossing to Cavani, but he had the ball whacked off his foot by Martial as the two United forwards got in each others way, which was frustrating to see. Fernandes then pressed Burnley, who stood off and he sent a dipping effort on target which Pope spilled before gathering it the second time. In the 64th minute, Pogba slipped the ball into Rashford but was never onside with the flag going up after the move came to an end. United then had another chance, which again came to nothing in the 67th minute.
In the 69th minute, United had a penalty shout after Fernandes fired the ball into Martial in the area. His deft back heel threatened to play Pogba in on goal. The Frenchman then went to ground after a challenge from Josh Brownhill and United’s appeal for a penalty was considered by VAR. However, there was insufficient evidence to give a spot kick. Two minutes later though, United had opened the scoring through Pogba, who started the attack, played the ball to Rashford on the right, who then delivered the ball to the edge of the area with Pogba now in a good area, receiving the ball and hitting the back of the net with a slight deflection.
Solskjaer made his first substitution in the 80th minute of the match with Mason Greenwood replacing Rashford. United then had a chance to double their lead two minutes later with Martial preparing to pull the trigger from close-range, saw James Tarkowski make a brilliant last-ditch challenge to deny the Frenchman. United should have done much better there. Burnley then looked to start to push themselves into the match to get an equaliser. Solskjaer brought on Scott McTominay for Fernandes in the 89th minute of the match, seemingly trying to pack the midfield to deal with Burnley.
Martial seemed to be injured in added time, possible his hamstring. He was replaced by Axel Tuanzebe which might add some problems for the Liverpool match at the weekend. United just needed to keep a clean sheet and finish the match with the victory, which is what happened. United move three points ahead of Liverpool, level on matches played with goal difference a factor if Liverpool beat United at Anfield. Solskjaer will be pleased with his team, who some will say has topped the table in spite of him, not because of him. Agendas eh? United deserve to be in the position they are in right now. Bring on Liverpool.
Goals: Paul Pogba 71′
Assists: Marcus Rashford 71′
Manchester United: De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Bailly, Maguire, Shaw; Fernandes (McTominay 89′), Matic, Pogba; Rashford (Greenwood 80′), Cavani, Martial (Tuanzebe 90+5′)
Substitutes Not Used: Henderson; Telles; Mata, Fred, James, Van de Beek
Bookings: Ashley Westwood 62′; Luke Shaw 32′, Bruno Fernandes 45+3′
Written by John Walker