Manchester United climbed to the top of the Premier League after a toughly-contested 1-0 win at Burnley. Paul Pogba scored the only goal of the game with arguably his most important contribution in over 3 years.
After a decent start by Burnley, United settled into a comfortable pattern; Fernandes was first to test the goalkeeper with an effort straight at Pope following neat build up. More good work found Martial a couple of minutes later, and his acrobatic effort hit the back of Lowton.
Martial had another chance five minutes after that – Matic played him in to a good position, but the forward took it on his left and screwed the shot harmlessly wide.
The 28th minute saw the most controversial moment of the half game – one of those moments that was always inevitable due to VAR. First, Shaw lunged in on a challenge where he won the ball but brought down his man; from the resultant counter, Cavani was clean through and brought down by former United man Robbie Brady. As the away players protested it should be a red card rather than a yellow, the referee was minded to check for the earlier incident; and decided that Shaw’s was a foul, giving the left-back a yellow card.
There was an almost six minute delay for the decision. Only four were ultimately added for stoppages at the end of the first period.
United then thought they had their goal when Maguire headed in a superb Shaw cross with replicate quality; but the skipper was deemed to have pushed Peters, though it seemed a generous award considering these crosses are designed to be contested.
In first half stoppage time, Martial forced a fine save from Pope.
Burnley bolted down for a point in the second half and United looked for the three points that might elevate them into serious consideration when it comes to title talk. Cavani had an early effort that he might have done better with, but he scuffed at the vital moment; Fernandes then had a shot that was comfortable for the goalkeeper.
In the 70th minute – when you wondered, for a moment, if Rashford would be withdrawn for his ineffectual display to that moment – the ball was played to the England forward, via Fernandes, via a clever Pogba header. Rashford delayed his cross and timed it right until Pogba was there on the edge of the area – the strike was clean, but deflected past Pope on the way.
The goal was just reward for a growing influence on the game.
United withstood late pressure to record an important win. It is important in the context of the season come what may, but how important – when it comes to the club, players, and manager – time will tell.
De Gea 7
— United Goals ⚽️ (@UnitedGoals__) January 12, 2021