Manchester United Vs Burnley: Match Report
Analysing Manchester United's much-needed win over Burnley would have been a routine affair if the match ended after the first half. But this is the Premier League and football is a game of 2 halves! A 2-0 win for Manchester United which was as dramatic as it gets.
Mourinho made 3 changes to the line up from the last game. Fellaini came in for Herrera, Lindelof for Jones and Sanchez for Fred. Sean Dyche made 4 changes to his line up that started against Olympiacos during the week. Hart, Tarkowski, wood and cork came into the fold, with Long Barnes, Vokes and Heaton dropped to the bench. Bardsley was preferred to Lowton at right back against his former club.
The match began as expected with Manchester United running out of the blocks at Burnley. The front 3 were causing plenty of commotion in the Burnley back line giving opportunities to both Valencia and Luke Shaw to bomb forward. Lingard was his usual twinkle-toed self and created several chances combining well with Lukaku.
After the first 15 minutes of getting pinned back in their half, Burnley started to find their feet. Another former United academy graduate Mcneil took a free kick resulting from a foul on Bardsley by Sanchez on the right side of the box. The attempt safely sailed over. A couple more crosses from the left into United's box were easily dealt with.
In the 27th minute, Sanchez's pinpoint cross from the left found Lukaku who drifted between Mee and Taylor to head the ball into the top corner of the Burnley goal. A much-needed goal which calmed many many nerves! United built on their performance so far while dominating possession and extracting another couple of saves from Joe Hart.
Luke Shaw combined well with Lukaku who teed up Lingard for a strike in the 44th minute. Lingards shot was blocked but Lukaku was made no mistake in firing the resulting rebound into the Burnley goal for his second goal of the day. At halftime, it seemed like the game was sealed in United's favour after what some would have called a dull first half.
Watching the second half was like watching another game altogether! It couldn't have been more dramatic. United started in the usual dominant fashion that was seen in the first half. Sean Dyche introduced a second striker in Vokes. Here was when Fellaini looked like a masterstroke from Jose. He effectively shielded the 2 center backs who based on recent performances needed it. Two big physical center forwards in Vokes and Wood would have caused plenty of trouble otherwise for United.
Rashford came on for Alexis, who looked visibly frustrated despite his assist for the first goal, to provide fresh legs and cause problems. He did not disappoint earning a penalty for United 7 minutes after coming on. Pogba stepped up only to see his shot saved by the experienced Joe Hart. That would have killed the contest for sure.
A couple of minutes later, Rashford unusual to him, reacted to a kick out from Bardsley. Rashford presses his head against Bardsley which the referee spots and gives Rashford a straight Red. Sent off for the first time in his career! It's the sort of behaviour that was out of character for Rashford. Could his limited time on the pitch been a trigger? We may find out subsequently. United had a job on their hands with 20 minutes to go.
Herrera was brought on 5 minutes later for Lingard to provide some defensive solidity and to contain the much expected Burnley onslaught. To everyone's surprise and United's relief, Burnley did not provide one! Instead, Lukaku got 2 chances to seal the game, one of which was an open goal opportunity after rounding the keeper! Twice in 2 games, much to the frustration of the fans and manager.
In the dying minutes of Extra time, a Vokes header heading into the goal was punched away by De Gea. Eric Bailly was introduced to kill some more time in place of Pogba. No other dangerous attempts on De Gea's goal were made and the game fizzled out to an end.
Today's match provided drama from the beginning with the Ed Woodward banner in protest, are quite obvious for both teams. Burnley are visibly tired from their failed Europa League campaign. The International break comes at the right time for them to get back some energy and start an onslaught which got them into Europe in the first place.
Lukaku scored 2 goals but should have had his hattrick. It remains to be seen if he can be any better than he is playing for United and push them to become a Title winning side. Luke Shaw was a bright spot again. A much-needed force in attack down the left. He took 3 shots out of which 2 were on target. A key figure in the build-up to the second goal, his heat map shows his attacking presence in the Burnley half.
For United, much needs to be said both on and off the pitch. For now, they should focus on their finishing which has brought them into the mess that is dividing opinions about what is going on at the club. That will be enough to get back to winning ways and to shut down undue criticism from the media and a certain section of the fans.
Next up for United is Watford who just scored a terrific 2-1 win over Tottenham! With their form, they have climbed to 3rd above Manchester City only behind Liverpool and Chelsea on Goal Difference. A headstart such as this is vital for a club of Watfords stature. Could they do a Burnley and earn a place in Europe? The international game will prove to be a deciding factor in the upcoming fixture for both the clubs. Can United build on their form? Can Watford maintain their flying start? We can't wait to see the premier league back!