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Match Reports

Burnley 0 Manchester United 2

23 April 2017

Burnley 0 Manchester United 2

The Clarets were unable to halt Manchester United’s relentless Premier League run as first-half goals from Anthony Martial and Wayne Rooney gave the former champions the points at Turf Moor.

Jose Mourinho’s side hasn’t lost a league fixture since October and are now unbeaten in 23 games – the best mid-season run in the competition since United themselves went undefeated for 24 games in 2010/11.

And in truth, Burnley never really looked like ending that sequence on a difficult afternoon for Sean Dyche’s side in front of a season’s best crowd of 21,870.

The Clarets’ record of 10 home wins is up with the best in the division but, for once, they were unable to seriously test top-class opposition as United didn’t have to find top gear to move within one point of the Champions League places.

And having conceded two uncharacteristically 'soft' goals to slip to a third defeat in six games against top-six opposition, Burnley were left possibly needing something more themselves to make sure they keep the bottom three places at arm’s length.

The Clarets had their striking options reduced by the injury-enforced absence of Sam Vokes, meaning a return to starting duty for Andre Gray as Burnley looked to extend a proud unbeaten home Premier League record against the 20-time English champions.

That one alteration to the starting line-up contrasted with the eight changes United made to the side that got past Anderlecht in the Europa League last Thursday night.

Rooney returned to lead the visitors as he started a game for the first time since 4 March and the club captain had the opening chance with nine minutes gone.

Martial and Ander Herrera combined to create the opening but Rooney failed to make clean contact and Tom Heaton was able to save low to his left and deny his former Old Trafford team-mate his 251st United goal and the chance to extend his club record tally.

Those three players were to prove key, though, as United took control before half-time.

The Clarets had been lively early on as Robbie Brady sliced a volley wide from a difficult angle, Jeff Hendrick fizzed a cross into the danger area following a darting run and Ben Mee headed over the top from a corner.

But with 22 minutes gone Dyche’s side was clinically picked off on the break as United turned defending a free-kick into a 1-0 lead.

Martial, starting his first game since 1 April in the absence of injured top scorer Zlatan Ibrahimovic, led the counter-attack and after receiving an excellent return ball from Herrera poked the ball past Heaton.

Burnley responded with Brady delivering a couple of dangerous set-pieces but five minutes before the break found themselves 2-0 down from another goal which United didn’t have to work too hard to score.

This time Paul Pogba won possession and threaded a pass through to Martial. 

Heaton saved at the striker’s feet but as the ball broke loose, Rooney was able to smuggle it over the line from a tight angle past the covering Michael Keane to register his first goal since January.

The Clarets needed a flash of inspiration from somewhere to get back into the game and just before half-time it almost came in the shape of Gray.

He turned superbly in the box to create space for a shot which was goalbound until Eric Bailly stuck out a leg to make a crucial block.

With Mee picking up a knock, his record of playing every minute in the Premier League was ended at half-time as James Tarkowski came on to partner Keane at centre-back.

And it was Clarets who had to do the early defending after the re-start as Pogba tested Heaton with a fierce drive which took a deflection off Hendrick.

Burnley needed the focus to be at the other end to have any chance of reducing the arrears and putting some pressure on a United side still hoping to sneak into the top four.

But despite the hard work and determination of Gray, the Clarets couldn’t get a look at David de Gea’s goal as Marouane Fellaini was detailed throughout to shield the back four and try and block Ashley Barnes out of the game.

That tactic paid off with Barnes making way for Dan Agyei with 15 minutes to go - Johann Berg Gudmundsson also making a welcome return via the bench - to give the young striker another taste of top-flight action.

But it was a big ask for the teenager to turn the tide as United refused to budge.

And even though Agyei went as close as anyone in a claret and blue shirt to finding the target with an injury-time effort that skidded just past the post, it was the visitors who went closest to a third goal.

Substitute Marcus Rashford and Pogba shot wide, both seemingly via touches from Heaton not spotted by referee Anthony Taylor, as Burnley's fifth home defeat of the campaign was confirmed. 

Burnley: Heaton, Lowton, Keane, Mee (Tarkowski ht), Ward, Boyd (Gudmundsson 62), Hendrick, Barton, Brady, Gray, Barnes (Agyei 75). Substitutes: Pope, Flanagan, Defour, Westwood.

Booked: Lowton, Hendrick

Manchester United: De Gea, Darmian, Blind, Bailly, Young, Lingard (Rashford 69), Herrera, Pogba (Carrick 90), Fellaini, Rooney, Martial (Mkhitaryan 80). Substitutes: Romero, Tuanzebe, Shaw, Fosu-Mensah.

Booked: Rooney

Referee: Anthony Taylor

Attendance: 21,870

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