Manchester United defeated Burnley FC in a close encounter at Turf Moor on Tuesday night. A volley goal from Pogba sent Ole’s men to the top of the table for the first time since 2017. While United have been at the top before, they haven’t been at the summit this late in the season since Sir Alex’s final season in 2012. Burnley fought hard and defended valiantly but were ultimately outmatched 1-0 by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men.
David de Gea was in goal for the Reds with Maguire and Bailly at the heart of the defense. Luke Shaw and Wan-Bissaka were the wingbacks behind Matic, Pogba, and Fernandes. The front three comprised of Rashford, Martial, and Edinson Cavani. Telles, van de Beek, McTominay, Greenwood, and Tuanzebe were among the substitutes.
Manchester United started out flat and lethargic in the opening 15 minutes. Burnley’s disciplined defense and long passes gave United a little bit of trouble. Burnley came close on a couple of occasions at the beginning but United’s defense held firm. The hosts were very successful at winning the first header but could not muster a genuine attempt on goal. United’s defense was trying to hold the ball and build moves but Burnley were winning the battle of midfielders. Bruno and Rashford looked to combine but the Claret’s defense was alert. Bruno had another chance soon after which he shot right at Pope. Anthony Martial attempted a bicycle kick but was denied by Burnley’s center backs. Bruno struggled a bit as his touches were a bit poor, and his passes were a bit wayward.
Anthony Martial had another great chance but could not find his attempt on target. Martial’s work rate and movement have been great in the past few weeks but his finishing has been disappointing. Drama ensued in the 27th minute as Cavani was denied a goalscoring opportunity by Brady, prompting a yellow card from the referee. VAR reviewed to see whether the card would be replaced with a red card. However, Kevin Friend consulted the pitchside monitors and instead awarded a foul against United on the other end of the pitch.
This was the beginning of a string of questionable refereeing decisions from Kevin Friend. Shortly after, Maguire headed in Luke Shaw’s out-swinging cross. Yet again, Friend stepped in to disallow the goal for a foul much to the amazement of anyone watching. Martial had another excellent effort in the dying minutes of the half but Pope leaped high to deny him. Much to the dismay of United fans, the injury time at the end of the half was much shorter than was the time taken up by VAR and injuries.
Despite being denied in the first half, Manchester United looked determined to grab the upper hand and find the opening goal in the game. Cavani came close after a good pass from Martial but his scuffed attempt did not trouble Nick Pope. United continued to get stronger as the half progressed, which was reflected by how well Pogba and Bruno were distributing the ball. Bruno had another shot on goal but the goalkeeper was able to save it with relative ease. Cavani’s shot from close in was far and wide but United looked more and more threatening.
The breakthrough came in the 70th minute from an unlikely source- Paul Pogba. Rashford’s smart cross across the box found Pogba, and the Frenchman struck it first time, taking a deflection and giving Pope no chance. Burnley responded quickly looking to equalize but Matic held firm with the center backs to keep Burnley’s attempts out.
Ole soon brought on Greenwood to replace Rashford in the attack. Rashford was playing out of his usual position and looked a little out of sorts in the first half, but his movement and crossing in the second half culminated into the goal for Pogba. United came close to making it 2-0 when Pogba played a superb pass into Martial in the box. Unfortunately, Martial took a touch too many, and his shot was denied by Ben Mee. The second goal would’ve been crucial to put the game away, as Burnley searched for an equalizer intently in the last 15 minutes.
Burnley had a couple of close chances but did not trouble de Gea in the net. In the 90th minute, Scott MCTominay replaced Bruno in midfield- to ice out the game. In the final minutes, Cavani and Martial combined to set Martial free onto the goal but the Frenchman’s poor finishing kept the game at 1-0 at the end. As the full-time whistle blew, United’s staff and players were elated after notching their ninth win in eleven games and going to the summit of the Premier League table.
While Manchester United have been impressive in their league form, they have some very important fixtures coming up and cannot afford to slip up. A daunting trip to Anfield is up next, and a good result there will give United plenty of cheer. The Red Devils struggled to play their best football today but a trip to Burnley is always a difficult prospect, and three points is a priority. United now have a much-deserved 5-day break before facing off against the Scousers.