Tuesday, December 26, 2017 15:00
Sir Matt Busby Way, Central, Manchester, M16 0RA, United Kingdom
Homeground of Manchester United
Manchester United v Burnley Highlights
As the game got underway, Burnley's confidence and United's lack of cohesion were equally apparent. In the 3rd minute, Icelandic winger Johann Berg Gudmundsson curled an exquisitely-flighted free-kick in from the left. Initially, no one could get a clean contact on it, but, following an unsuccessful attempt at a clearance from Lukaku, the ball broke to Ashley Barnes who reacted sharply to stab it into the net. From this moment on, it was clear that United were going to have to work hard to get anything out of the game.
Burnley continued to look dangerous as the match progressed. In the 12th minute, another superb cross from Gudmundsson was met by Scott Arfield who lifted a delightful sidefooted volley narrowly over the bar. The Clarets picked United off again in the 36th minute. There seemed little danger when they won a free-kick in front of goal approximately 30 yards out, but Belgian midfielder Steven Defour struck the ball perfectly, curling it over the wall and into the top left-hand corner of the helpless de Gea's goal.
United were having plenty of possession, but could not break through. Mourinho realised that changes were needed, withdrawing Marcos Rojo and a rather rusty Ibrahimovic at half-time, replacing them with Jesse Lingard and Henrikh Mkhitaryan. The game began to turn in the 53rd minute. Firstly, a good ball in from the right by Ashley Young found an unmarked Lingard moving into the 6-yard box. Goalkeeper Nick Pope made himself as big as he could, and somehow managed to deflect Lingard's effort onto the crossbar with his face! This was a serious warning for Burnley, but it was one they did not heed, as a few seconds later another Young cross from an almost identical position was met by Lingard. This time, he flicked it brilliantly between his legs, deceiving Pope and his defenders, and the ball rolled neatly inside the far post.
From this point on, it was a case of whether or not Burnley could hang on to their slender advantage. For a long time it looked as though they would head back to Turf Moor with all 3 points, but as the game moved into stoppage time the pressure finally told. In the 91st minute a ball was floated hopefully into a packed Burnley box. A defender attempted to head it clear, but only succeeded in finding Ashley Young on the edge of the penalty area. He took it down and struck a low shot which was blocked by one of the mass of bodies in front of him, but the ball ricocheted straight to Jesse Lingard, who reacted quickly and fired it along the ground inside the right-hand post past an unsighted Pope. A wave of relief was felt all around Old Trafford, and the match finished 2-2.
The result left both managers partially satisfied. Sean Dyche felt that the game illustrated the progress his team were making, whereas Jose Mourinho felt that United had deserved to win, claiming that Burnley had 'one-and-a-half shots and scored two goals'. Whilst this was not true, perhaps creating such a memorable quote makes Jose the day's big winner!