Burnley 0-2 Man Utd: Report, Ratings & Reaction as Red Devils Go Fifth With Hard-Fought Victory

Manchester United earned a hard-fought 2-0 victory over Burnley on Saturday evening, lifting Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men to fifth place in the Premier League table. 

The two sides largely cancelled each other out during an attritional first half, but a rare ​Burnley defensive error presented Anthony Martial with the chance to give the Red Devils the lead just before half time, and he slotted home calmly. 

Man Utd continued to control the pace and tempo of the match in the second half, but Burnley began to cause the visitors some problems with their direct style of play, and Phil Bardsley forced an excellent save from David de Gea down to his right-hand side.

But the hosts were unable to find a way past the Spanish goalkeeper, and Solskjaer's men wrapped up the points in injury time when Marcus Rashford streaked through to secure the three points for the visitors. 


Key Talking Point 

Let's hope Sean Dyche asked Santa Claus for a creative midfielder, because his side's current attacking play could be prescribed as a cure for insomnia. ​Burnley created absolutely nothing during a dismal first half, and for all their blood and thunder, the Clarets were particularly toothless in attack. 

Ashley Barnes

Ashley Barnes and Chris Wood huffed and puffed all game, challenging in every aerial battle and putting the United defence under pressure, but there was very little in terms of end product. Burnley improved when they were forced to chase the game, but the lack of creative spark must be addressed in January if Dyche's side are to avoid any chance of a relegation battle. 

Drink plenty of coffee before kickoff, Burnley fans. You're gonna need it. 

Player Ratings 

Starting XI: Pope (7); Bardsley (7), Tarkowski (7), Mee (6), Taylor (5); Hendrick (5), Westwood (6), Cork (7), McNeil (8); Wood (6), Barnes (7).

Rodriguez (7), Gudmundsson (6), Brady (N/A).

STAR MAN - Since his breakthrough campaign, Dwight McNeil has proved himself to be one of the most reliable players in the Burnley squad. The 20-year-old has featured in every match in all competitions for the Clarets this season, and he is a willing runner in Dyche's defensive formation. 

Dwight McNeil

McNeil has bags of potential and attacking talent, but his opportunities to express himself with freedom are severely limited. Regardless, the youngster puts in the hard yards when it matters, and he is so calm and composed in possession when his defenders need a breather. McNeil grew as Burnley began to hunt for an equaliser, drifting inside from the left to stamp his authority on proceedings. 

The starlet was unable to affect the result, but Burnley possess one of the most dangerous attacking wingers in the league - when used correctly. 

Manchester United 

Key Talking Point 

It's been a disappointing 2019 for United, but Solskjaer's men ended the year in professional fashion at Turf Moor. It was never going to be one for the ages on Saturday evening, but the Red Devils stuck to their task to a man and dug in against one of the most organised and unadventurous teams in the league. 

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

The visitors dominated play from the beginning, and when questions were asked via aerial balls into the Man Utd half, ​Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof responded superbly, forcing Burnley's strikers to feed off scraps. Solskjaer's men have been criticised for their inability to take the game to their opposition this season, but today they stood up to the challenge and showed a steel which has been missing throughout the campaign. 

Promising signs going into 2020. 

Player Ratings

Starting XI: De Gea (7); Young (7), Lindelöf (7), Maguire (8), Williams (8); Matic (7), Fred (9*); James (8), Pereira (7), Rashford (8); Martial (8).

Substitutes: Lingard (7), Shaw (N/A).

STAR MAN - How much has ​Fred grown in stature this season? The Brazilian midfielder has largely been ridiculed during his time in England, but the ex-Shakhtar man seems to have finally settled into life in Manchester. It's no surprise that Fred looked lost in the heart of the midfield whilst playing in a team bereft of confidence and leaders, but he has come on leaps and bounds this year. 

Charlie Taylor,Fred

The 26-year-old looked so comfortable in possession for the Red Devils, spraying the ball left and right, and bridging the gap expertly between defence and attack. Fred also put in an excellent shift defensively, breaking up attacks and committing the niggly challenges needed in the centre of the park. 

Solskjaer may been keen to strengthen the midfield area in January, but Fred's recent form could have convinced the Norwegian boss that he can still make an impact at Old Trafford. 


Looking Ahead 

Burnley follow up their stern test against United with a home match against relegation-threatened ​Aston Villa in the early New Year's Day kickoff.

Man Utd take on bitter rivals ​Arsenal following their trip to Turf Moor, where Solskjaer will be desperate to continue his side's Champions League qualification hopes.

Source : 90min