Manchester United brought a timely end to their poor run as Romelu Lukaku’s brace at Burnley helped alleviate the pressure on Jose Mourinho and kick-start their campaign.
Old Trafford has found itself in the eye of a storm after a shock defeat at Brighton was compounded by the heaviest home defeat of the Portuguese’s managerial career against Tottenham on Monday.
But there was no sign of a hangover on Sunday as United rallied impressively, with Lukaku netting twice in the first half to set Mourinho’s men on course for a deserved 2-0 win at Turf Moor.
Joe Hart saved Paul Pogba’s penalty to prevent matters getting worse for Sean Dyche’s men on an afternoon when substitute Marcus Rashford’s red card was the only real negative for the visitors.
Neither event could take the edge off a positive afternoon for United, whose travelling fans chanted Mourinho’s name from the outset and celebrated a much-needed win before the international break.
The fan-funded plane that flew overhead calling executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward “a specialist in failure” was a nod to the fact all is not well at United, but this was a much-needed show of strength and unity on the field.
An eventful afternoon at Turf Moor ends in a deserved win for Mourinho's men 😃— Manchester United (@ManUtd) 2 September 2018
Match report 👇
Burnley, looking lethargic after Thursday’s Europa League exit to Olympiakos, were second best in a first half that was 27 minutes old when Lukaku headed home a clipped Alexis Sanchez cross.
The Belgium international fired home from close range just before the break, with Hart preventing United from extending their lead by denying Pogba from the spot.
Rashford’s sending-off for reacting to Phil Bardsley’s kick out by pushing his head into that of the Burnley defender led to an open ending, but United held firm to secure the three points.
Mourinho’s men started brightly and Jesse Lingard had three chances inside the opening 10 minutes, while Hart was called into action to keep out a low Luke Shaw drive.
United soon tapered off but they were remaining resolute at the back and patient in possession, with intelligent play bringing a 27th-minute opener.
Sanchez collected a pass from Shaw after good build-up and clipped a lovely cross to the far post, where Lukaku capitalised on poor defending to power a header past Hart.
United looked to press home their advantage on the counter and would have doubled their advantage had Hart not spread himself well to prevent Lukaku turning home a Sanchez through-ball.
But the 25-year-old would find the net again before the break.
Shaw burst through and squared for Lukaku, who played back to Lingard to get away a shot that took two deflections. The ball fell kindly and the striker buried the loose ball from close range.
Burnley were struggling to lay a glove on the visitors and had work to do at the back.
Bardsley denied Sanchez at the other end and Shaw stung the palms of Hart, who prevented the visitors going three ahead in the 69th minute.
Aaron Lennon brought down substitute Rashford in the box and Pogba stepped up for the resulting spot-kick, only for Hart to save low to his right after a delayed run-up.
The stop took the noise up several notches inside Turf Moor, as did Rashford’s red card.
Bardsley appeared to kick out at Rashford after a challenge and the United forward reacted by putting his head into the Burnley defender’s.
The red card brought a frantic conclusion, with Sam Vokes going close before Lukaku wasted a glorious chance after rounding Hart only to fail under Ben Mee’s pressure – who then escaped sanction after handling the ball when Lukaku outmuscled the Manchester City graduate.
Vokes was denied by David De Gea and Matej Vydra missed the target as Burnley continued to push for the goal that would not materialise.
Mourinho went to thank the raucous travelling fans at full-time as they chanted his name.
Unai Emery hailed Alexandre Lacazette‘s “big capacity” to score after he netted a brilliant winner for Arsenal against Cardiff.
Lacazette struck a rasping shot high into Cardiff’s net nine minutes from time at the Cardiff City Stadium as Arsenal edged a Premier League thriller 3-2.
Shkodran Mustafi and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – with his 150th goal in the top five leagues of European football – twice gave the Gunners the lead before Lacazette struck.
Victor Camarasa and Danny Ward grabbed equalisers as Cardiff scored their first goals since returning to the Premier League, but Arsenal held on for only their second away league win in 2018.
“I know him (Lacazette) from Lyon,” Emery said. “He has a big capacity to score when he is in the box.
“We gave him good options to score, and today he showed us what he could do, and it is good for his confidence.
“What happened on the pitch is good for the confidence of the team.
“The character is very important and that we show it each match. It was the same when we needed to win after the first two games, to be calm, which is the most important thing.
“We had chances to score, good attacking moments, but Cardiff had some good strong moments as well. I think we controlled the match 70 per cent on the 90 minutes.
Arsenal were lucky not to fall behind when goalkeeper Petr Cech presented Harry Arter with a clear scoring opportunity after seven minutes.
But Emery defended his policy of Cech playing out from the back.
“He (Cech) has experience,” Emery added. “He is doing like we want him to do. It is very important to me to continue doing this and improving.
“If you are playing long balls all the time, you are not showing your personality.
“It is clear you can do one mistake in one action, but we need to continue doing this to help us create attacking space.
“When we had more control in the second half, I think he feels better on the pitch.”
Cardiff have claimed just two points from their first four league games, but manager Neil Warnock was heartened by the performance.
“I was very proud of them,” Warnock said. “We aren’t good enough to park the bus, we would have lost 1, 2 or 3-0, so we decided to have a go.
“It was old fashioned stuff today, we attacked when we could. We had a lot of plans that came off today.
“I would take 0-0 every time, but I would rather enjoy watching my team. That’s how football should be – it can be too negative at times.
“We had some great chances today. I can’t remember how many times I had my head in my hands. I can’t fault the effort from our players, we have a great bunch really.”
Arsenal lifted their awayday blues with a 3-2 Premier League victory at Cardiff.
Shkodran Mustafi and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – with his 150th goal in the top five leagues of European football – twice gave the Gunners the lead before Alexandre Lacazette settled matters nine minutes from time.
Victor Camarasa and Danny Ward grabbed equalisers as Cardiff scored their first goals since returning to the Premier League – but Arsenal held on for only their second away league win in 2018.
Mesut Ozil was restored to the Arsenal line-up after missing the first win of the Unai Emery reign.
Ozil sat out the West Ham success amid reports of a training ground bust-up with his manager, who insisted the Germany midfielder had simply missed the game through illness.
Lacazette started his first game under Emery with Aubameyang deployed on the left of the attack and supported by Ozil and Aaron Ramsey, the Welshman back at his first club.
Emery’s determination to play from the back saw goalkeeper Petr Cech put under huge pressure in the opening minutes.
Cech was closed down on two occasions before presenting Harry Arter with a clear opportunity that the on-loan Bournemouth midfielder was unable to take.
There was similar confusion at the other end when Ramsey’s effort was pushed out by Neil Etheridge and Mustafi poked the rebound over.
But Arsenal were almost immediately ahead as Mustafi lost his marker, Sol Bamba, at Granit Xhaka’s corner to head home powerfully for his first goal since March.
Bruno Ecuele Manga’s mistake almost allowed Nacho Monreal to double the advantage but Cardiff were full of endeavour and there were plenty of moments to provide encouragement for that elusive goal.
Ward just failed to connect with Bobby Reid’s cross in front of goal and Reid also sent an acrobatic overhead kick over before Lacazette served warning of his threat by striking the Cardiff post from 20 yards.
The goal Cardiff craved came in the second minute of stoppage time at the end of the first half.
Xhaka needlessly gave away possession and Camarasa, the Spanish midfielder on loan from Real Betis, ended Cardiff’s 315-minute wait for a league goal by reacting quicker than Monreal to Joe Bennett’s cross.
Arsenal attempted to reassert their earlier authority after the break as Cardiff were penned back.
Lacazette shot over with his back to goal and Mustafi almost profited from another set-piece.
The pressure told after 62 minutes when Lacazette touched Ozil’s pass onto Aubameyang and the Gabon forward found the bottom corner of Etheridge’s net from 20 yards.
But Cardiff were level eight minutes later when Sean Morrison beat Ramsey in an aerial mismatch from Joe Ralls’ free-kick.
Morrison intelligently directed the ball towards Ward and his header beat the desparing Cech and went in off the far post.
Cardiff were sensing a famous win at that point – but substitute Lucas Torreira soon set up for Lacazette to score his first goal of the season with a thumping near-post finish.