Manchester United moved up to the summit of the Premier League table after Paul Pogba’s second-half strike was enough to ensure a 1-0 win away at Burnley for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men.
Manchester United needed only a point to move above Liverpool in the standings ahead of their top-of-the-table clash at Anfield at the weekend. Solskjaer’s men initially struggled to get to grips with Burnley’s physicality, as the hosts enjoyed the better of the opening exchanges.
An eventful first half offered everything but a goal. VAR changed a possible red card for Robbie Brady at one end of the pitch to a yellow for Luke Shaw at the other, before disallowing a Harry Maguire goal a few minutes later.
However, the second half was played overwhelmingly in the direction of the Burnley goal. It seemed inevitable that Manchester United would find a way through the host’s resolute defense, as they have managed to do regularly on the road this season.
The moment of magic eventually came via their French midfielder, Paul Pogba, who volleyed home Marcus Rashford’s cross from the edge of the penalty area to put his side ahead.
The visitors then overcame a couple of nervy moments at the end to see out the win that sees them take a three-point lead into the Liverpool game on Sunday.
On that note, let’s take a look at Manchester United’s player ratings from their 1-0 win over Burnley that propelled them to the top of the Premier League table.
Although Burnley’s encouraging start to the game kept de Gea on his toes, the Manchester United goalkeeper was never unduly troubled in the first half. He was a virtual bystander for most of the second period, as the hosts failed to muster a shot on target.
The Spaniard still found time to catch the eye with his excellent distribution. His long-range passes out from the back regularly landed at the feet of a free Manchester United midfielder, who was able to turn and run at the opposition goal.
It was a contrasting performance from the Manchester United right-back. Wan-Bissaka was often drawn into a more central position in the first half, as he tracked Burnley’s many lofted crosses into the opposition penalty area. This left space on Manchester United’s right side for the hosts to exploit.
However, as his side took the ascendancy in the second half, Wan-Bissaka embraced his offensive duties with great gusto. He regularly ventured forward in support of his attackers and got involved in the play.
Bailly has really caught the eye this season after returning from injury. The Ivorian further enhanced his reputation as a no-nonsense defender with a typically robust performance that saw him make a couple of crucial blocks in front of goal.
Fearless in the tackle, Bailly has also proved himself to be extremely comfortable in possession and regularly brought the ball up from the back to set off a Manchester United attack in this game as well.
Harry Maguire: 7/10
It was a thoroughly commanding performance from the Manchester United skipper, who dealt with Burnley’s considerable aerial threat with great authority, adding several excellent tackles to the mix as well.
Maguire was regularly involved at the other end of the pitch as well and was arguably unlucky to see a headed goal ruled out by the referee in the first half.
Luke Shaw: 6/10
It was yet another solid showing for the Manchester United left-back, who spent the evening running tirelessly up and down the left flank. Shaw performed both his defensive and offensive duties to good effect.
Matic turned in an excellent display that went under the radar. His well-timed interceptions and robust tackling not only allowed his midfield partner Pogba to play with greater freedom but also helped out his defenders as well.
While the midfield pairing of Scott McTominay and Fred garners well-deserved praise for their boundless energy, the Serbian is quietly forming another formidable midfield duo with Pogba. Their contrasting playing styles seem to complement each other quite well.
Paul Pogba: 8/10
After overcoming initial struggles to impose himself on proceedings, Pogba proved to be the difference-maker between the two sides. He provided a moment of great quality to score the decisive goal.
The Frenchman was also Manchester United’s link between defense and attack, moving the ball forward swiftly every time he picked up possession. Pogba was heavily involved in his side’s attacking play.
The Portuguese international was somewhat overshadowed by his midfield colleagues, as close attention from Burnley’s defenders prevented him from making a telling impact on proceedings.
As such, a couple of hopeful pot shots from distance was pretty much all that Fernandes was able to muster. He was replaced in the dying stages by McTominay.
Marcus Rashford: 6/10
For a while, it looked like Rashford wouldn’t be able to conjure up anything from his usual bag of tricks. A resolute Burnley defense often halted his progress down Manchester United’s right side.
However, it was Rashford who played the ball across from the right for Pogba to rifle home. The Englishman added an assist to his tally before being replaced by Mason Greenwood for the final 10 minutes.
The Uruguayan striker was in for a physical battle on his return to the field after suspension. He was given a tough time by Burnley’s center-back pairing of Ben Mee and James Tarkowski.
To his credit, Cavani got himself into a couple of promising positions but was not allowed anything more than a half-chance to impact the game.
A striker with happy memories of Turf Moor, Martial would consider himself unfortunate to have not extended his scoring run against the Clarets, as he put in an encouraging shift for Manchester United.
The Frenchman had a long-range effort spectacularly turned away by a diving Nick Pope in the first half. Martial passed up a much more presentable opportunity one-on-one against the Burnley keeper late in the second half.
Mason Greenwood: 5/10
Greenwood took up Rashford’s spot on the right-wing and looked to cause trouble among the Burnley defense but failed to make a notable impact.
Scott McTominay: N.A.
McTominay came on for Fernandes in the final few minutes to help his side see out the game. He was little more than a helpful physical presence in the box for his side, as Burnley unleashed a series of crosses in an effort to get back into the game.
Tuanzebe barely had a touch of the ball after replacing Martial for the final few seconds of the game.
Published 13 Jan 2021, 04:58 IST