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Rangnick changes pay off as Man Utd beat Burnley

Ralf Rangnick rang the changes and got a much-improved performance from his Manchester United players in a 3-1 win over Burnley, which moves his side up to sixth in the Premier League table.

After a disappointing draw at Newcastle on Monday, Rangnick made six changes to his line-up and shifted from his preferred 4-2-2-2 to a 4-2-3-1 formation. The move was rewarded within eight minutes, when Scott McTominay fired in from the edge of the box.

A rejuvenated United played with a lot more fluency and looked like they’d run away with it when Ben Mee deflected in Jadon Sancho’s shot (27) and Cristiano Ronaldo tapped in (35) after McTominay’s strike had been pushed onto the bar.

Scott Tominay scores for Man Utd against Burnley

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Scott Tominay scores for Man Utd against Burnley

Burnley had caused problems at the other end, though, and Aaron Lennon’s quick response (38) was a sharp reminder of United’s defensive vulnerabilities.

However, a quieter second half was ultimately a comfortable one for United, with the impressive Wayne Hennessey preventing McTominay from adding to the scoreline.

United will finish the year four points off fourth-placed Arsenal with a game in hand. Meanwhile, Burnley – who had not played in 18 days – remain in the relegation zone, two points from safety but having played a game fewer than Watford.

Player ratings

Man Utd: De Gea (6), Wan-Bissaka (6), Bailly (6), Maguire (6), Shaw (7), McTominay (8), Matic (6), Greenwood (6), Cavani (7), Sancho (7), Ronaldo (7).

Subs: Varane (6), Dalot (N/A), Fred (N/A).

Burnley: Hennessey (7), Lowton (7), Mee (6), Tarkowski (6), Taylor (6), Gudmundsson (6), Westwood (6), Cork (6), McNeil (6), Wood (6), Lennon (7).

Subs: Stephens (6), Vydra (6), Pieters (N/A).

Man of the match: Scott McTominay

How it happened…

Burnley, who had seen games against Watford, Aston Villa and Everton postponed due to COVID, were fired up to be back on the field in the early stages, with Wood going close before pinging a shot just off target from an offside position as the visitors pressed United frantically.

However, while they were let off by a glaring miss from Ronaldo from a one-on-one at the other end, the Portuguese’s poor touch moments later teed up McTominay to break the deadlock for the hosts, with the Scot curling in his first of the season from 18 yards.

Team news

  • Man Utd made six changes from the draw at Newcastle. Raphael Varane, Diogo Dalot, Alex Telles, Fred, Marcus Rashford dropped to the bench, and Bruno Fernandes was suspended. In came Eric Bailly, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Luke Shaw, Nemanja Matic, Jadon Sancho and Edinson Cavani
  • Burnley made two changes, with Wayne Hennessey replacing Nick Pope in goal, while Aaron Lennon came into the attack in place of Jay Rodriguez.

Luke Shaw impressed on his return to the team and hit the side-netting after a driving run. He was involved in United’s second, too, winning the ball back before feeding Sancho, who cut back on his right and fired for the far post, with Mee unintentionally clipping it past Hennessey.

Ben Mee deflects Jadon Sancho's shot into his own net

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Ben Mee deflects Jadon Sancho’s shot into his own net

Ronaldo passed up his second good chance of the half when he failed to get his shot away quickly enough, allowing Mee to block, but there was no way he was going to miss when McTominay’s tipped shot came back off the bar and fell kindly for him to prod home.

A loose piece of control from Eric Bailly allowed Lennon to arrow in an almost instant reply to prevent United’s supporters getting carried away but after half-time United strengthened their grip on the contest, with early chances after the break seeing Ronaldo head wide and Hennessey save well from Mason Greenwood.

Manchester United took control after Burnley's fast start

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Manchester United took control after Burnley’s fast start

Hennessey was sharp again to tip another McTominay effort over the bar soon after the hour mark, and he somehow saved a Cavani effort with his face – although the offside flag had gone up.

In between those stops, Bailly was forced off with an injury which will worry Ivory Coast supporters ahead of the Africa Cup of Nations, and there were a couple of half-chances for Burnley late on, but it was an otherwise satisfactory night for United and Rangnick to end the year on.

Opta stats

  • Manchester United have taken 14 points from their last six games (W4 D2 under Michael Carrick and Ralf Rangnick), 10 more than they managed in their final six under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (W1 D1 L4).
  • Burnley are winless win in their last 10 Premier League away games (D4 L6), last enduring a longer run without a win on the road between August 2016 and April 2017 (17 games).
  • Manchester United are now unbeaten in their final league game in each of the last 10 calendar years (W7 D3) since a 3-2 loss against Blackburn at Old Trafford in 2011.
  • Burnley have accrued just 11 points from their first 16 games of the Premier League campaign, their third lowest figure at this stage in their 59 top-flight campaigns, superior only to seven points in 1970-71 and four in 1889-90 (3pts for a win).
  • Manchester United midfielder Scott McTominay scored his first goal in 28 Premier League games (since netting v Everton in February), with eight of his 11 league goals for the Red Devils coming at Old Trafford, including each of his last seven.
  • Cristiano Ronaldo’s goal and assist for Manchester United took him to 11 goal involvements for the season in the Premier League (8 goals, 3 assists), hitting double figures for goal involvements for the 17th consecutive season in Europe’s big five leagues, since registering just nine in 2004-05.
  • Of teams to have scored 10 Premier League own-goals, only Charlton’s Richard Rufus has scored a higher percentage for his side (41.7% – 5/12) than Ben Mee has for Burnley (35.7% – 5/14).
  • Burnley’s Aaron Lennon netted his first goal in 33 Premier League appearance, since scoring for the Clarets against Bournemouth in September 2018, with the goal also the winger’s first against Manchester United in the top-flight in his 23rd game against them.
  • Aaron Lennon is the second-oldest player to score for Burnley in the Premier League (34y 258d), after Graham Alexander (38y 182d).
  • At 30 years and 314 days, Burnley fielded the oldest starting XI in the Premier League this season and the Clarets’ oldest ever starting line-up in the history of the competition.

What’s next?

Manchester United host Wolves live on Sky Sports on Monday in a 5.30pm kick-off, while Burnley are back in action at 2pm on Sunday when they go to Leeds.