Manchester United ground out a narrow Premier League win over Burnley at Turf Moor, temporarily closing the points gap with rivals Manchester City to within single digits. Another outstanding effort from Anthony Martial made the difference, while a resistant rearguard kept the hosts out on the other end.
José Mourinho stuck with what is now his first-choice front six, at least until the arrival of Alexis Sánchez, who will no doubt make a strong case to start at left wing-back. United dominated the first half of proceedings, generally having their way with Burnley, but without any end product to show for it. The closest that United came was through a whipped effort from the reinstated Ashley Young, whose shot just missed the far post after cutting in from the wing and nutmegging his defender.
Within ten minutes of the restart, Martial broke the deadlock. Romelu Lukaku did excellently to hold the ball up when surrounded by 3 Burnley defenders close to the halfway line, before turning and playing an intelligent ball to Martial on the edge of the box. The in-form Frenchman then blasted another beauty into the back of the net, kissing the ball off the crossbar for good measure.
The Reds had the goal that their overall play deserved, but the hosts almost drew level two minutes. After a free-kick had been conceded at the edge of the area, only the frame of the goal kept out Gudmundsson’s effort. From there, the game became increasingly stretched. While David De Gea was barely called into action, Burnley had begun creating a series of half-chances.
Sensing the vulnerability in his team, Mourinho sent on Marouane Fellaini and his elbows in place of Juan Mata. Paul Pogba should have doubled the lead after a lung-bursting run, bit had his eventual shot blocked. The Reds kept knocking on the door, with Lukaku, Martial, and the substitute Marcus Rashford all making a nuisance of themselves. Burnley themselves continued to threaten, but United managed to hold on.
No one will accuse Mourinho’s team of being brilliant in this match, but they did enough to get all three points.