Manchester United had the chance to top the Premier League table when they went to Turf Moor to face a dogged Burnley side in need of points. A game in hand over table leaders, Liverpool – a win was a must here.
Manchester United Go Top After Paul Pogba Strike
Strong Starting Line-Up for Key Fixture
Ole Gunnar Solksjaer stuck with his best eleven on current form with David De Gea making his way back in after being rested for both Cup fixtures. Paul Pogba kept his starting place from the win over Aston Villa with Donny Van De Beek left on the bench yet again. Burnley saw first-choice goalkeeper Nick Pope return in goal with both Ashley Barnes and Chris Wood looking to pressure the United defence.
VAR-Central First Half
It was a half in which referee Kevin Friend and VAR took the limelight, having a lot to do after many controversial decisions. The first being after Burnley midfielder Jóhann Berg Gudmundsson had the ball close to the United box when a clattering challenge came in from Luke Shaw. This was a key and controversial moment in the game because Edinson Cavani was clean through on goal when Burnley winger Robbie Brady brought the player down in the last man position. After closer looks with VAR, the decision was given the other way to Burnley after the challenge for left-back Shaw was given a yellow card as it was in the same phase of play.
Another incident occurred in the 37th minute when United skipper Harry Maguire looked to break the deadlock but for referee Kevin Friend to make another controversial decision, disallowing the goal due to a hand on the back of the Burnley defender.
Manchester United Apply the Pressure in a Dominant Second Half
United came flying out, looking to get that all-important goal to make the game in hand extremely useful. Manchester United out-played Sean Dyche’s side with sustained attacks in efforts to break down the Burnley block.
The Red Devils created many chances on goal but the key moment came in the 71st minute when a ball from the right-hand side of Marcus Rashford was met by Pogba who volleyed in via a tiny deflection from the edge of the box.
With Burnley unable to create any sufficient chances, United kept applying the pressure and should have doubled their lead when striking duo Anthony Martial and Cavani combining dumbfounding the Burnley defence but for the French forward to hit his scuffed shot straight at the keeper. Subsequently limping off with a hamstring injury after the shot, giving a headache for Solskjaer ahead of a thunderous Liverpool encounter on Sunday.
The Burnley on-slaught did come through in the final ten minutes, with numerous set-piece all getting cleared. Matej Vydra did manage to get a chance after coming on as a substitute but for scuffed his chance way over the bar.
A vital win and an important three points moved United top of the Premier League, for the first time after the Christmas period since Sir Alex Ferguson left in 2013. Player statistics are gradually improving as the Red Devils continue to overachieve.
Sunday’s encounter with rivals Liverpool now becomes even more intriguing as the top two go head-to-head.
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