Burnley vs. Manchester United
Venue: Turf Moor
Date: Sunday, 23 April 2017
Kick-off: 14:15 BST
Manchester United moved to within a point of the top four with a comfortable 2-0 victory away at Burnley.
First half goals from Anthony Martial and captain Wayne Rooney were enough to see off a Burnley side who had won 10 of their 16 home league fixtures prior to today.
This win cuts the gap to Manchester City to just one point ahead of the Derby this Thursday at the Etihad Stadium.
Former United academy graduate Robbie Brady volleyed wide of the near post early on before Rooney’s scrambled effort deflected off Ben Mee only for Tom Heaton to save on his line.
Marouane Fellaini saw a header held from a corner as Paul Pogba and George Boyd saw shots blocked at either end.
Mee, formerly of City’s youth set up, headed onto the roof of the net, as Rooney did likewise with what was presumably an attempted cross on his weaker left foot.
The opening goal arrived just over 20 minutes in as Martial broke clear from Joey Barton to play in Ander Herrera on the right, and the latter’s first time return pass found Martial, who composed himself with a touch to set, before slotting away a left-footed finish.
In control of proceedings, United doubled their advantage before the break as Pogba’s clever pass played in Martial, with his dink flicking off Heaton, allowing Rooney to meet the loose ball, and scuffing the ball over the line despite the desperate efforts to clear from the Burnley backline.
There was time for Andre Gray’s neat turn to force Eric Bailly into a smart block but half-time arrived at Turf Moor with the visitors in command.
Early after the interval, Pogba took aim from range, and his deflected shot forced Heaton to beat the ball away, as Ashley Barnes was snuffed out with a block from a stubborn away performance.
Looking to capitalise from set pieces, Michael Keane, another former United academy starlet, headed wide from a deep free-kick as the hosts searched for a way back into the contest.
Two substitutes combined when Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s through ball was met by the run of Marcus Rashford, and despite the youngster’s attempt being turned behind by Heaton in front of the assistant referee’s eyes, a goal-kick was bizarrely awarded.
Rooney and Pogba were both just off target from range, as Burnley substitute Daniel Agyei flashed wide in stoppage time.
Jose Mourinho’s side held on for a precious three points, ahead of a massive Manchester derby this Thursday at 8pm.
This was a professional and assured display, made even more notable when you consider Burnley’s home form, United’s injuries, and the 120 minutes played on Thursday last.
With six games remaining and just a point’s difference, United will be hoping they build on what is now a 23 match unbeaten run in the league against City, to keep alive their top four prospects.
United: De Gea; Darmian, Bailly, Blind, Young; Herrera, Fellaini, Pogba (Carrick 90); Lingard (Rashford 70), Rooney, Martial (Mkhitaryan 80).
Subs not used: Romero, Tuaznebe, Fosu-Mensah, Shaw.
Manager: Jose Mourinho
Burnley: Heaton; Lowton, Keane, Mee (Tarkowski 46), Ward; Boyd (Gudmundsson 62), Barton, Hendricks, Brady; Barnes (Agyei 75), Gray.
Subs not used: Pope, Flanagan, Defour, Westwood.
Manager: Sean Dyche