Manchester United came out with a comfortable Premier League victory against Burnley. Two goals from Mason Greenwood, and a tap-in from Edinson Cavani proved enough for the reds to ease past the typically uninspiring Burnley.
The win moves United eight points behind Manchester City with six games to go; the exact scenario in which the blue half of Manchester found themselves in 2011/12 in the most exciting final day showdown ever seen.
Story of the game
A nervy start almost saw Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s side immediately behind, as a long ball up to Chris Wood was poorly defended. Goalkeeper Dean Henderson elected to come and punch the ball, but arrived late and was beaten by Wood, who had risen above the aerially weak Victor Lindelöf. The ball ended up in the back of United’s net, but was ruled out for a tight offside.
Henderson’s apparent desire to prove his aerial prowess nearly cost United again in the second half, with another strange decision to come for a ball on the edge of his penalty area. Both instances occurred when Lindelöf was duelling aerially with Wood, which makes it seem like the Englishman was trying to hide the aerial weaknesses his centre-back possesses, but to minimal effect.
For the remainder of the first half, play settled into a clear pattern: United with sustained possession and attempting to break down a compact Burnley defence, whilst Burnley looked to transition quickly with early balls into Chris Wood. Wood’s movement to get in between United’s central defenders caused sporadic problems.
United’s tempo in possession decreased as the half wore on, with few real chances created. The best avenue to goal for United seemed to come through deep crosses from Bruno Fernandes on the left. On one occasion, having found Marcus Rashford’s run, his cutback narrowly escaped Mason Greenwood sliding in for a tap-in to open the scoring.Embed from Getty Images
Fast start to second half
United came out of the tunnel at half time with renewed vigour – and Cavani on in place of Fred – and were rewarded with a fine opening goal after 48 minutes. The energetic Marcus Rashford isolated Matthew Lowton on the left side, picking a fine pass across the penalty area which Fernandes cooly stepped over to allow Greenwood to slot in.Embed from Getty Images
However, the lead did not last long – a mere 114 seconds. Zonal marking once again let United down as James Tarkowski got a run on captain Harry Maguire, towering above him to head into the corner of the net for an equaliser.
Following this setback, United struggled for tempo and intensity, easily keeping possession but with very limited progression or penetration up the pitch. Time appeared to be running out but with 84 minutes gone, a deflected shot from the dangerous Greenwood found its way into the the Burnley goal – a relief for United.
In stoppage time, a fine United breakaway saw Donny Van de Beek square a low cross to Cavani, who tapped into an empty net from close range. This capped off a victory after a physical game in which United struggled to get out of second gear.
Overshadowed: Super League dominates post-match
At half time of this encounter, news broke that United were one of six Premier League clubs to have signed a letter of intent to join a breakaway European Super League. Ole Gunnar Solskjær himself was asked about this in his post-match interview – and, visibly uncomfortable, the boss was unable to comment.
On a day where United fans could be dreaming of the impossible – history of 2011/12 repeating itself – the owners’ greed and disregard for English football rightly dominates the discussion.