Burnley, United Kingdom, Dec 29 – Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford scored late in each half as Manchester United moved into fifth place in the Premier League with an impressive 2-0 win at Burnley.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men have responded positively to a disappointing 2-0 defeat to then bottom-of-the-table Watford less than a week ago to head into the new year with fresh belief they can secure a return to the Champions League next season.
“In the first half I thought we were very good. We controlled it and dominated it,” said Solskjaer.
“Second half of course there will be a couple more incidents in your box because they are throwing the ball into it, but it was great defending.”
If United are to achieve their goal of finishing in the top four, Martial and Rashford will be key and they again provided the goals for the Red Devils in a game of few clear-cut chances.
There were also positives for Solskjaer at the back as his side ended a club-record 14-match run without a Premier League clean sheet.
“We’re a team who haven’t been conceding many chances, but set-pieces and other basic things have been letting us down,” said Harry Maguire, who United spent a world record £80 million ($104 million) for a defender on in August to try and ease their defensive problems.
“On our day we can beat anyone, but we’ve been far too inconsistent this year. We didn’t perform at all at Watford, so it was important to come here, do the basics well and keep the clean sheet.”
Burnley have not beaten United since 2009 and never looked likely to spring a surprise.
“They are still a very strong side,” said Burnley boss Sean Dyche. “I know they have been up and down this season but you look at the players they have got.”
Rashford was first to threaten when he hit the outside of the post midway through the first half.
But Burnley were architects of their own downfall just before half-time when Charlie Taylor gifted possession to Andreas Perreira and he fed Martial to score his third goal in two games.
Phil Bardsley forced David De Gea into a fine save with Burnley’s only shot on target.
United finally got the second goal their performance deserved to add a shine to the scoreline deep into stoppage time.
Daniel James led a counter-attack down the right and Rashford slotted home his 16th goal of the season at the second attempt after slipping as he rounded Nick Pope.