Jose Mourinho steadies the ship as Man United get vital win

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Jose Mourinho's Manchester United found form with a 2-0 win over Burnley.

After last week’s disastrous 3-0 loss to Tottenham, Manchester United got back on track with a 2-0 win over Burnley on Sunday.

Manager Jose Mourinho tweaked his formation again and made more changes to his starting XI – he has yet to name an unchanged XI this season – and it worked as Romelu Lukaku scored twice in a largely comfortable win.

Paul Pogba started in midfield – though he missed a penalty – and United generally looked much better than they had in their run of two straight losses.

Here’s a closer look at how the Red Devils’ manager steadied the ship.

BASIC STATS

Goals – 2

Shots – 21

Possession – 54%

Tackles – 6

Dribbles – 6

30-SECOND REPORT

Mourinho reverted to a 4-3-3 after last week’s experimental 3-3-3-1 line-up, with the revolving door in defence seeing Chris Smalling and Victor Lindelof getting the nod as the starting centre-backs, the third different pairing Mourinho has used in three games. There were also starts for Marouane Fellaini and Alexis Sanchez.

He will have been pleased with the way his team responded to last week’s loss, with the defence looking much more solid and United far more clinical in attack, with Lukaku scoring two goals to put doubts about his form to bed – though he should have had a hat-trick, and Pogba missed a penalty.

Lukaku should have had a hat-trick.

Lukaku should have had a hat-trick.

TACTICAL TALKING POINT

Two holding midfielders

These days Fellaini rarely starts, and when he does play it’s because United are going to Plan B in attack. But here, he was given a specific role, sitting alongside Nemanja Matic right in front of the back four. Indeed, there were times when Burnley had the ball where the big Belgian was deep enough to double up as a centre-back.

The presence of the midfield duo brought stability to United’s back-line, who looked much less troubled than in previous games this season. It also gave Pogba the license to roam, which made United a much more dangerous proposition.

The Frenchman had his best performance of the season, and the two holding midfielders were vital to that.

Matic was solid alongside Fellaini in front of the defence.

Matic was solid alongside Fellaini in front of the defence.

VERDICT

This could have been a much more straightforward win had Pogba not missed a penalty, not to mention Lukaku’s botched 1-on-1. And Marcus Rashford’s red card after coming on as a substitute certainly complicated matters.

Overall, however, Mourinho will have enjoyed his side’s performance. He got his tactics right and his team dominated the game, scored two good goals, and were rarely threatened even when Burnley were chasing the game.

Meanwhile, anyone looking for any fault lines in the squad would have been disappointed. Mourinho barely moved from his seat when United scored their first, but celebrated the second much more animatedly. There was a pat on the back for Pogba when the midfielder was substituted late on, as well.

RATING – 8/10

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Manchester United relieved the pressure on under-fire manager Jose Mourinho as they battled to a 2-0 win at Burnley.

Romelu Lukaku put the Red Devils 2-0 up in a commanding performance at Turf Moor. But the game turned into a lively affair after Paul Pogba missed a second half penalty and Marcus Rashford was then sent off for putting his head into Phil Bardsley.

Burnley pressed but also left gaps at the back and United could have won more comfortably.

Here, we rate both sets of players.

MANCHESTER UNITED (4-3-3)

David De Gea – 6: Very little to do but was sharp and alert. Saved smartly late on, twice from Vokes.

Antonio Valencia – 6: Always an outlet down the right. Two key passes and the same figures for tackles, interceptions and clearances.

Victor Lindelof – 7: Enjoyed his physical battle with Chris Wood. Six clearances in a very sound display for the Swede.

Chris Smalling – 7: A stout performance at a difficult venue for the much maligned defender. Three interceptions led United.

Luke Shaw – 8: Added to his burgeoning season with another fine game. A menace down the left flank and looking increasingly composed going backwards.

Marouane Fellaini – 7: Brought in to add ballast to a rickety-looking United at home to Spurs. Isn’t the most stylish but was dependable as usual, giving United a solid platform.

Paul Pogba – 6: Sprayed passes at will as Burnley offered him the freedom to operate. Will hopefully stop that dreadful penalty run-up after his poor miss.

Nemanja Matic – 6: He and Fellaini presented a united front in the Red Devils’ engine room. Neat and tidy, allowing Pogba to roam forward.

Jesse Lingard – 7: Lively and bright start showed just why he’s such a vital player for United. Could have scored two early on. A constant danger for the hosts.

Romelu Lukaku – 9: Does what he does best, put the ball in the net. Expert header is what we expect from the big Belgian. Should have had a hat-trick.

Alexis Sanchez – 8: Grew into the game. Fine outing capped with a sensational cross which was plum for Lukaku to bury. Also had a hand in the second.

SUBS:

Marcus Rashford – 4: Came on for the half-fit Sanchez and lasted just 10 minutes before idiotically being red-carded for reacting to Bardsley’s sly, off the ball swipe. Won United’s penalty.

Ander Herrera – 6: Put on to stifle Burnley as opportunity knocked following Rashford’s red.

Eric Bailly N/A: Late replacement for Pogba, just to get an extra body at the back.

BURNLEY (4-4-1-1)

Joe Hart – 8: The former Man City keeper would have been pumped up for this, excellent save denied Lukaku a second goal. After Burnley fell 2-0 behind he was outstanding, brilliantly saving Pogba’s penalty.

Phil Bardsley – 6: Extremely lucky not to see red for his kick out at Rashford. Led Burnley with three tackles.

Ben Mee – 3: Should a penalty have been given when Lukaku rounded Hart? How did John Moss miss his handball after being outmuscled by the United striker? An all-round uncomfortable day for the City academy graduate.

James Tarkowski – 5: Was a busy boy with five clearances, two blocked shots and two tackles, but struggled to contain United’s forward runners.

Charlie Taylor – 7: In an underperforming home defence, he was the one bright spark. Four clearances and blocked two shots.

Aaron Lennon – 5: Clumsily fouled Rashford for the penalty, but Hart rescued him. Drew three fouls from opposition players.

Ashley Westwood – 6: Didn’t do much wrong but not much right either. With the most Burnley touches (77), he would have been expected to make a more telling impact.

Jack Cork – 7: One of the hosts’ brightest performers – there weren’t too many. Jointly led side with two key passes.

Dwight McNeil – 6: Teenage winger didn’t let his side down and made his presence felt with three aerials won. Also recorded two tackles, interceptions and clearances too.

Jeff Hendrick – 5: Led Burnley in pass accuracy (92.9 per cent) bud offered little incision, replaced before the hour.

Chris Wood – 4: Gave Smalling and Lindelof plenty to think about, but lacked any punch in terms of goalscoring threat.

SUBS:

Sam Vokes – 6: Used his frame to good effect as he won five aerials after coming on (joint team high) and tested De Gea twice.

Ashley Barnes N/A: Got a shot off and a cross away as he looked to keep himself busy when introduced late.

Matej Vydra N/A: Belatedly thrown on to make a nuisance of himself, saw little action.

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Alexis Sanchez and Marouane Fellaini start for Man United against Burnley

Matt Jones 2/09/2018
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Marouane Fellaini and Alexis Sanchez start for Manchester United against Burnley at Turf Moor, with the pressure ramped up on manager Jose Mourinho following two defeats in their opening three games.

It has been the Red Devils’ worst start to a league season since 1992/93.

The additions of Sanchez and Fellaini are part of three changes made to the side that lost 3-0 at home to Tottenham, with Victor Lindelof also coming back in. Anthony Martial and Eric Bailly are back on the bench after missing out on the Spurs defeat.

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