Manchester United 3-1 Burnley: Ralf Rangnick’s men get back to winning ways

Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates scoring against Burnley. Credit: Getty.Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates scoring against Burnley. Credit: Getty.
Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates scoring against Burnley. Credit: Getty. | Getty Images
The Red Devils recorded their first Premier League victory in 19 days with a comfortable win at Old Trafford.

Manchester United ended 2021 on a high with a convincing 3-1 victory over Burnley on Thursday.

All four goals were netted in the first half, with Scott McTomainy and Cristiano Ronaldo getting on the scoresheet, either side of a Ben Mee own-goal, while Aaron Lennon scored for the visitors at Old Trafford.

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Ralf Rangnick made six changes to his starting line-up from the abject showing against Newcastle United on Monday, while on the eve of Sir Alex Ferguson’s birthday the United great was honoured with a banner across the Stretford End prior to kick-off.

Sir Alex Ferguson had the ideal early birthday present at Old Trafford. Credit: Getty.Sir Alex Ferguson had the ideal early birthday present at Old Trafford. Credit: Getty.
Sir Alex Ferguson had the ideal early birthday present at Old Trafford. Credit: Getty. | Manchester United via Getty Imag

It was Burnley who started perhaps the brighter of the sides with Dwight McNeil having an effort blocked, before Chris Wood registered two shots, although the second, which curled just wide, was subsequently ruled offside.

The hosts then spurned a great opportunity to open the scoring, with Ronaldo of all people blasting a one-on-one effort over the crossbar.

But soon after, the Portuguese superstar laid the ball on for McTomainay at the edge of the box - whether it was an intentional pass or not, only Ronaldo knows - and the No.39 slotted the ball into the bottom corner.

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The goal put the Red Devils in the ascendancy and Luke Shaw smashed an effort off the side-netting on 20 minutes.

McTominay gave the Red Devils the lead after eight minutes. Credit: Getty.McTominay gave the Red Devils the lead after eight minutes. Credit: Getty.
McTominay gave the Red Devils the lead after eight minutes. Credit: Getty. | Manchester United via Getty Imag

The left-back, who was starting his first league game under Ralf Rangnick, was heavily involved down the left flank, and it was his build-up with Jadon Sancho that ultimately led to United’s second of the night.

After a defensive mix-up from Burnley, Shaw laid the ball into the winger and from there Sancho cut into the box and curled an excellent shot towards the bottom corner, although a slight touch from Mee ensured it was diverted on target.

Ronaldo then saw an effort blocked in the box, while Mason Greenwood’s curler from distance was held by Hennessey.

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United were now in full flow, with McTominay pulling the strings from the centre. It was the Scotland international whose shot was excellently saved by Hennessey on 35 minutes, only for it to bounce back into the path of the one man Burnley wouldn’t have wanted it to.

Ronaldo tapped it home with a slightly awkward outside-of-the-foot finish on his right, to ensure the Red Devils netted three in the opening half of a league game for the for the first time since February.

Burnley are the 120th club Ronaldo has scored against in his career. Credit: GettyBurnley are the 120th club Ronaldo has scored against in his career. Credit: Getty
Burnley are the 120th club Ronaldo has scored against in his career. Credit: Getty | Getty Images

But the scoring wasn’t done there. Aaron Lennon, who had previously never netted against United in 22 league outings, fastened onto a heavy touch from Eric Bailly and strode forward before unleashing a strike into David De Gea’s bottom corner, with the Spaniard having no chance of getting near the ball.

Ronaldo headed over in the latter stages of a lively first half, while Mason Greenwood also sliced a right-footed effort inside the box.

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After the action-packed first 45 minutes, the second period started on a slightly quieter note with both keepers forced to make relatively comfortable saves to deny Greenwood and then Chris Wood.

On 62 minutes, Hennessey again had to scramble across his goal-line to palm over a dipping McTominay effort from the edge of area.

United were still well on top and controlling the game much more efficiently than in previous outings. Mee had a half chance which was headed wide from a corner, before Edinson Cavani was denied by a superb reaction stop from the Burnley keeper, only to see the assistant referee’s flag raised.

As the game entered the final stages, the inevitability of the scoreline resulted in neither side committing huge numbers to attack. A Ronaldo free-kick and Shaw volley failed to hit the target.

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Burnley gave a half-hearted late rally to get themselves back into the game with two James Tarkowski headers in the box, although De Gea wasn’t called into action to deal with either.

The full-time whistle was soon blasted to ensure United end 2021 in sixth, four points off a Champions League spot, having played one game fewer than Arsenal.

Match Details

Manchester United (4-2-2-2): De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Maguire, Bailly (Varane 66), Shaw; McTominay, Matic; Greenwood (Dalot 80), Sancho; Cavani, Ronaldo (Fred 90+3).

Goals: McTominay 8, Mee (og) 27, Ronaldo 35.

Burnley (4-4-1-1): Hennessey; Lowton, Tarkowski, Mee, Taylor; McNeil (Pieters 84), Cork (Stephens 58), Westwood, Gudmundsson; Lennon (Vydra 74); Wood.

Goal: Lennon 38.

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