Burnley 0 United 2
Goals from Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford secured victory for Manchester United for the fourth successive year at Turf Moor and ensured the Reds ended 2019 on a high note.
Just two days after his brace helped sink Newcastle United at Old Trafford, the France forward once again remained calm under pressure to slip Andreas Pereira’s through ball beyond Nick Pope after 44 minutes.
Rashford wrapped things up with a breakaway goal in injury time and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men merited the three points after a mature team performance against a predictably physical home side.
Solskjaer opted to make four changes to the United side that came from behind to impressively defeat Newcastle 4-1 at Old Trafford just over 48 hours earlier.
Ashley Young and Brandon Williams were introduced in place of Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Luke Shaw at full-back, while Nemanja Matic started for the first time since the 2-0 defeat at West Ham in September, owing to the absence of the injured Scott McTominay and rested Paul Pogba.
Mason Greenwood, who netted against the Magpies, began the match on the bench. Daniel James was recalled to the XI to replace the 18-year-old.
Renowned as one of the trickier away trips in the league, the Reds were unsurprisingly met with a blood-and-thunder welcome from the hosts, with Ashley Barnes catching namesake Young in an aerial challenge early doors.
Moments later, Williams was forced to head clear from right in front of his own goal, with Barnes prepared to pounce at the far post. If the rough and ready 30-year-old is the perfect encapsulation of Sean Dyche’s team, our own no.10 Rashford is one of the symbols of Solskjaer’s United, and he went close on 11 minutes with a well-struck free-kick that England team-mate Pope had to parry to safety.
Rashford surpassed his individual best for a season in terms of goals during the win over Newcastle, and he almost added further to his tally on the quarter-hour mark.
After a rapid United breakaway, Andreas teed the ball up to the 22-year-old on the edge of the area, but Rashford’s viciously curling effort just tickled Pope’s left-hand post, with the keeper grasping at thin air.
Former United defender Phil Bardsley clearly had his work cut out dealing with the twin threats of Rashford and Williams down the home side’s right, and he was the first name into referee Mike Dean’s notebook for a cynical trip on our left-back.
The Clarets, however, had Bardsley to thank for keeping the scores level on 33 minutes, when the full-back was on hand to clear Martial’s poked effort off the line after more good work by Williams, who constantly found himself in space throughout the first half.
It was from such a position that an increasingly threatening United passed up another chance, with Rashford and Martial both sliding in unsuccessfully to meet the impressive teenager’s driven cross.
But, with half-time ticking ever closer, United got the goal our first-half dominance deserved, thanks in part to the work-rate of Andreas.
The midfielder seemingly had no chance of gaining possession when he harried Charlie Taylor on Burnley’s left, but the defender panicked and ceded the ball.
From there, the Brazilian simply slipped Martial through on goal and the Frenchman showed great composure to tuck beyond Pope and send the Red Army behind David De Gea’s goal wild.
Burnley failed to record a shot on target in the first half and Jeff Hendrick’s wayward attempt after the break was met with howls of frustration from a home crowd which has grown to expect much better from their side.
At the other end, the Reds had the ball in the back of the net once again, but Martial was denied a second consecutive brace by Dean’s whistle, with the official adjudging our no.9 to have fouled James Tarkowski in the build-up.
Pope, who appeared to pick up an injury during the opening 45, then saved smartly with his feet from Martial after Andreas, enjoying one of his best games in a United shirt, had once again been granted freedom in the middle of the park to play him in behind the Clarets’ backline.
In an effort to spark some life into his side, Dyche brought on local lad Jay Rodriguez on the hour mark, but the Clarets’ first real sighter on goal, 10 minutes later, came from a surprise source.
From a free-kick wide on United’s right, the ball broke free to Bardsley, whose driven effort forced De Gea into using every inch of his six foot-four inch frame to tip the ball wide.
Meanwhile, James found himself on the end of some rough treatment from the Burnley defenders, with Ben Mee and Taylor booked in quick succession for fouls on the rapid winger.
Turf Moor triumphGallery
Take a look at 20 photos from Saturday's battling 2-0 win over Burnley...
As the action entered its final 10 minutes, Martial had the chance to put the game to bed on the break, but he checked back under pressure from Pope and opted to lay the ball off to substitute Jesse Lingard, who was quickly closed down.
The Reds have let leads slip late on away from home on several occasions this season, but there wasn’t to be a repeat this time.
After a couple of heart-in-mouth moments when the Clarets opted for aerial bombardment in injury time, Rashford slid home with virtually the last kick of the game, after Young released James on the break, to secure a valuable three points.
United: De Gea; Young (c), Lindelof, Maguire, Williams; Fred, Matic; James, Andreas (Lingard 73), Rashford; Martial (Shaw 90).
Subs not used: Romero, Jones, Wan-Bissaka, Mata, Greenwood.
Scorers: Martial 44, Rashford 90+5.
Booked: Williams, Lingard, Fred.
Burnley: Pope; Bardsley, Tarkowski, Mee (c), Taylor; Hendrick (Rodriguez 59), Westwood, Cork (Brady 87), McNeil; Wood, Barnes (Gudmundsson 68).
Subs not used: Hart, Lowton, Long, Drinkwater.
Booked: Bardsley, Mee, Taylor, McNeil.