Burnley ended 2019 on a losing note as Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford struck at the end of each half to deny the Clarets any Christmas cheer.
A second defeat in the space of three days made it a frustrating end to an excellent 12 months for Sean Dyche’s men, who remain in the Premier League’s mid-table pack – six points clear of 18th-placed Aston Villa, who visit to ring in the New Year next Wednesday.
The Clarets also drew a blank in front of goal for a second game in a row as they suffered a fifth home defeat of the campaign in front of a record Premier League crowd at Turf Moor.
As at Everton, Dyche’s side paid the penalty for another mistake which handed United the all-important opening goal, courtesy of Martial a minute before the break.
But unlike on Merseyside, the Clarets then took more of the fight to their opponents and in a tremendous second-half performance almost repaired the damage.
With Dwight McNeil and substitutes Jay Rodriguez and Johann Berg Gudmundsson leading the charge, Dyche’s side rattled the visitors, who have lost just twice in the league since early October.
But their growing pressure wouldn’t pay off and in stoppage time Rashford’s 16th goal of the season snuffed out any possible comeback as United kept their top-four hopes alive.
The Clarets made two changes to the side that had lost at Goodison Park, bringing back both Jeff Hendrick and Ashley Barnes, who has a habit of scoring against United.
The striker has found the net against the Reds in each of the last two seasons – although both times that has been at Old Trafford.
Robbie Blake – with his famous winner in the Clarets’ first Premier League campaign – had been the only Burnley player to score against United at Turf Moor in half a century.
And that drought showed little signs of ending in a first half in which the Clarets didn’t play with a tempo to stretch a United defence which hadn’t kept a clean sheet in 15 games.
The nearest Burnley came to a goal – bar a miscued strike from Barnes that flew wide of the target – came from an early set-piece, which almost saw Jack Cork connect with a James Tarkowski knock-down inside the six-yard box.
From that United broke and ended up clipping the outside of a post through Marcus Rashford - and the visitors remained a threat whenever they counter-attacked.
It took an excellent goalline clearance from Phil Bardsley to stop Martial firing United in front with just over half an hour gone.
But the France international wasn’t about to pass up another chance to break the deadlock a minute before half time when he was presented with the opening goal.
A rare mistake by Charlie Taylor gifted possession to Andreas Pereira and left him the simple task of picking out Martial to slip the ball past Nick Pope and claim his third goal in as many days and 10th of the season.
Pope had earlier picked up a leg injury, but despite some rigorous warming up from Joe Hart was given the all-clear to carry on after the break.
And the Clarets’ number-one needed to be alert to keep out another effort from Martial, shortly after the United striker had an effort disallowed for barging over Tarkowski before shooting home.
The Clarets desperately needed a spark to get back them back into the game and former United youngster McNeil did his best to provide it.
McNeil’s decision to go hunting for the ball lifted his team and the crowd and from a rare sight of goal he dragged an effort wide with almost an hour gone as the home side started to build some momentum.
Dyche sent on Rodriguez to try and build on that with McNeil slotting into a more central position.
Gudmundsson followed shortly afterwards as the Clarets switched back to 4-4-2 and desperately tried to force an opening.
And with 20 minutes to go they almost found an unlikely hero in former United defender Phil Bardsley.
The right-back is yet to score for the Clarets, but only a superb save from David de Gea prevented him from opening his account with an excellent volley from the edge of the penalty area that was bottom-corner bound.
Gudmundsson then clipped a free-kick just over the bar and as the Clarets threw everything at the visitors in a bid to force a late leveller, even Pope joined the attack for an injury-time corner.
But the visitors survived - and with virtually the last kick of the game Rashford broke clear to add the second goal and finally kill off the Clarets’ hopes of grabbing a point their second-half efforts just about warranted.
Burnley: Pope; Bardsley, Tarkowski, Mee, Taylor; Hendrick (Rodriguez 59), Westwood, Cork (Brady 86), McNeil; Wood, Barnes (Gudmundsson 68). Substitutes: Hart, Lowton, Drinkwater, Long.
Booked: Bardsley, Mee, McNeil
Manchester United: De Gea; Young, Lindelof, Maguire, Williams; Fred, Matic; James, Pereira (Lingard 73), Rashford; Martial (Shaw 88). Substitutes: Romero, Jones, Mata, Greenwood, Wan-Bissaka.
Booked: Williams, Lingard, Fred.
Referee: Mike Dean