Manchester United bounced back with a decisive 3-1 victory at home over Burnley, Thursday, after first-half goals from Scott McTominay, Ben Mee (OG), and Cristiano Ronaldo gave the Reds too great of an advantage.
McTominay, who put in a performance worthy of man of the match, broke the stalemate in the eighth minute — the first United goal scored inside the opening 15 minutes this season. Mason Greenwood played a ball near the backline back over to Ronaldo near the top of the box. The forward guided the ball a few feet to the left to McTominay who was unmarked and launched a shot that beat Wayne Hennessey.
United would double its lead in the 27th minute thanks to some enterprising play on the left-wing from Jadon Sancho. The forward cut the ball into the box and around his defender before hitting a curler towards the goal. The ball clipped the outstretched foot of Mee and found the back of the net.
The match appeared to be completely broken open in the 35th minute as McTominay was banging in shots for the memes. The Scot hit a ball on target so pure that Hennessey could only deflect the shot off the post. The ball clattered down into the middle of the box and to the waiting feet of Ronaldo. With the goal wide open, Ronaldo easily scored the rebound and United were putting the match into a stranglehold.
However, United were not destined to play a perfect match as it’s so often been the case this season. Eric Bailly took a heavy touch in the United half, and Aaron Lennon was there to scoop up the ball and drive it towards goal. With Nemanja Matić scrambling back and Harry Maguire tracking at an awkward angle, Lennon was able to cut a shot back that beat David de Gea to give Burnley a little bit of life.
The scoreline would hold at 3-1 as both teams walked into the dressing rooms at the conclusion of the first half. United in 45 minutes had scored as many goals as their last three matches in all competitions combined.
The second half would see both sides have opportunities to further change the scoreline, but, ultimately, neither side would find another. Particularly, there were nervy moments late in the second half when Burnley looked poised to cut into the lead and make the match uncomfortable for the hosts.
Most encouraging for United as they reflect on tonight’s match were the performances from the likes of Luke Shaw, Greenwood, Mctominay, and Sancho.
Shaw put in a performance more akin to the 2020-21 season and he looked comfortable linking with the forward players and creating opportunities by dribbling into space. Meanwhile, on the other side, Greenwood looked more poised playing on the right-wing than he has in previous matches and was able to create chances for other players.
McTominay was confident playing box to box — especially forward — as Matić held down the center of the park. And, of course, Sancho continues to prove as he gets more time with this team that he is the forward that United hoped he would be. He is probably United’s best option when it comes to dribbling and taking on defenders while he is capable of playing precision passes and creating his own shots.
Manchester United now sits on 31 points moving into sixth place and level on points with fifth-placed West Ham United. They’ll look to convert the win over Burnley into momentum as they prepare to host Wolverhampton Wanderers on Monday, January 3, 2022.