Manchester United bounced back from two successive defeats to confidently dispatch Burnley 2-0 at Turf Moor on Sunday afternoon, thanks to a first-half double from Romelu Lukaku. Reds substitute Marcus Rashford was sent off midway through the second half after a clash with Phil Bardsley, and Paul Pogba missed a penalty, but Jose Mourinho’s ten men finished the game as deserved winners.
United boss Mourinho made a total of three changes to the side that lost to Spurs with Victor Lindelöf replacing the injured Phil Jones as Chris Smalling’s partner at the back whilst Marouane Fellaini made his first start of the season in a midfield three alongside Nemanja Matic and Pogba. Alexis also came back into the starting XI after a substitute appearance on Monday night.
A minute’s silence was held before kick-off in the name of Jimmy McIlroy who was regarded as one of Burnley’s greatest ever players, having played 497 matches and scored 131 goals for the Clarets.
In his pre-match press conference, Mourinho insisted it had been a ‘week when people were positive’, saying the Reds had felt hard done by after an encouraging first-half display against Spurs ended in defeat. United, playing in our striking pink away kit for the first time, started brightly again here at Turf Moor and inside three minutes, great hold-up play by Lukaku found Alexis who teed up Jesse Lingard, but his curling effort drifted inches wide.
That fired up the travelling contingent of supporters who sang Mourinho’s name loud and clear in the away end and moments later the lively Lingard was this time denied by former Manchester City goalkeeper Joe Hart from close range, before he spurned the best of his quick-fire three chances, curling wide again from 15 yards after positive build-up play involving Alexis and Lukaku.
United had to ride a little bit of Burnley pressure, but did so confidently at the back and just before the half-hour mark, Alexis’ cross from the left expertly found Lukaku at the back stick and he headed past Hart to put the Reds deservedly ahead.
This was certainly not a Reds side lacking confidence as, on the counter-attack, Lukaku broke with vengeance and played a one-two with Alexis, but his chipped effort was well saved by Hart as Burnley survived.
Lukaku didn’t have to wait long to double his and United’s tally as a minute before the break, fantastic attacking play from the in-form Luke Shaw led to Lingard’s shot bouncing off Ashley Westwood and United’s number 9 was there to fire home the rebound.
United started the second half by confidently retaining possession, as the Reds aimed to drain the energy from the Clarets, who had already played nine competitive matches so far this term due to their Europa League exertions.
Burnley did have their first attempt on target though, just past the hour mark as Chris Wood’s header was easily saved by David De Gea. Luke Shaw tested Hart at the other end, before substitute Rashford was pulled down by Aaron Lennon in the box, but the Clarets’ keeper saved Pogba’s drilled penalty by diving low to his right.
Moments after winning the spot-kick for United, Rashford saw red after he went head-to-head with Phil Bardsley, leaving Mourinho with ten men on the pitch. Sam Vokes then headed over De Gea’s bar after Shaw had brought down Lennon on the edge of the box in a frantic five-minute spell.
Lukaku had two chances to put the game beyond any doubt on the counter-attack, but Hart saved his first attempt before the Belgian rounded the former England number 1, only to slip under pressure from Ben Mee when it seemed he would seal his hat-trick by tapping into the empty net.
Burnley huffed and puffed in the final minutes, with Vokes and Matej Vydra both heading wide, but the Reds stood firm to head into the international break with three points and a well-earned clean sheet.
BURNLEY V UNITEDGALLERY
The best images from our Premier League match at Turf Moor.
United: De Gea; Valencia, Lindelöf, Smalling, Shaw; Fellaini, Matic, Pogba (Bailly 90+2); Lingard (Herrera 76), Lukaku, Alexis (Rashford 61). Subs not used: Grant, Young, Fred, Martial.
Scorer: Lukaku 27, 44.
Booked: Alexis, Shaw, Lukaku.
Sent off: Rashford.
Burnley: Hart, Bardsley, Tarkowski, Mee, Taylor, Lennon, Cork, Hendrick (Vokes 57), Westwood, McNeil (Barnes 80), Wood (Vydra 84). Subs not used: Heaton, Lowton, Ward, Long.
Booked: McNeil, Bardsley.
Referee: Jonathan Moss.