Manchester United registered a vital victory in their chase for the Premier League title with a hard-fought 1-0 win against Burnley at Turf Moor. It was a dominant performance from the Red Devils who now sit three points clear at the top of the league table after a game that was filled with VAR drama and controversial moments.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer held nothing back for this critical game and named a full-strength XI including a host of his star players, including the likes of Bruno Fernandes, Paul Pogba, Marcus Rashford, and the returning Edinson Cavani.
The first half was filled with drama and controversy and saw heavy involvement from VAR. During a sequence of play midway through the half, Luke Shaw won the ball from Johann Gudmundsson after a rough tackle, and it led to a brilliant goalscoring opportunity for Edinson Cavani at the other end before he was brought down by Robbie Brady.
With the Red Devils expecting a red card for a last-man tackle, referee Kevin Friend overturned the initial yellow card to Brady and dished one out to Shaw after a lengthy check, who was deemed guilty of fouling the Iceland international.
Solskjer’s men continued to ask questions of Burnley’s stunningly resolute defence and brought out an excellent save from Nick Pope after a measured Anthony Martial strike.
Harry Maguire also came close to breaking the deadlock after a well-placed far-post header from a set-piece routine, but the goal was ruled out as Friend believed Maguire fouled Erik Pieters to get to the ball.
Manchester United came with more vigour and purpose in the second 45 minutes and looked like they had a point to prove. They nearly doubled their attempt tally within the first 30 minutes of the half and had twice as many shots on target than they did prior to the restart, with one of them — from Paul Pogba’s right boot — was decisive enough to give Manchester United the three points.
In the 71st minute, Marcus Rashford latched onto a pass on the right-hand side and found the Frenchman with a cross on the edge of the area, who dispatched it with a majestic volley to send it into the back of Burnley’s goal. Although the ball did take a slight deflection, it was a moment of magic conjured from the Red Devils midfield maestro, which is exactly what his side needed to unpick the Claret’s defence.
With little choice left and less than 20 minutes of regulation time left on the clock, Dyche’s men pushed forward in numbers and hoped to find an equaliser and did come close to doing so with a few of half-chances, with Matej Vydra getting on the end of a couple of them.
Burnley threw caution to the wind and committed several bodies forward in injury time as James Tarkowski had a golden opportunity to level the score but mishit the ball with his weaker foot. On the other end of the pitch, United could have doubled their advantage with two minutes left but squandered a one vs one situation as Nick Pope stood tall in his box.
Pogba’s stunning strike was made all the more special by the fact that it was the goal that sent Manchester United three points clear at the top of the Premier League table. This is the first time that the former champions have reached the top of the table after New Year since 2013, during Sir Alex Ferguson’s final season at the club.
This result sets the stage perfectly for the Red Devils’ upcoming Premier League clash against reigning champions Liverpool.
Published 13 Jan 2021, 04:05 IST