Premier League: Manchester United 3-1 Burnley
ManUtd: Chris Smalling (6, 45), Robin van Persie (pen.82)
Burnley: Danny Ings (12)
Manchester United were made to work hard for the three points but saw off Burnley 3-1 thanks to a first-half double from substitute Chris Smalling and Robin van Persie's late penalty.
Sean Dyche's side may feel unlucky to end up with nothing for their endeavours, but Smalling's headers before half-time and a first spot-kick of the campaign proved sufficient, with Danny Ings replying for the Clarets.
The Reds lost Phil Jones and Daley Blind to injury in the opening 45 minutes but still led 2-1 at the break, despite that being largely against the flow of the first half. Ex-Old Trafford starlet Michael Keane had already headed a good chance wide when Smalling came on for Jones with only five minutes gone.
Tom Heaton, another former Red, pushed away a Paddy McNair piledriver to concede a corner and, when Wayne Rooney floated it over, van Persie flicked on for Radamel Falcao to steer back across goal. Smalling climbed highest to ensure his first touch was to head into the far corner of the net.
The joy was short-lived, however, as the lively Michael Kightly forced David De Gea into palming to safety before a wonderful cross from the right by Kieran Trippier allowed Ings to dive and head home the equaliser.
Ings was impressive, firing over after seeing a dangerous shot blocked by Marcos Rojo, and springing the offside trap to sweep an intelligent ball into the path of Ashley Barnes as he lurked on the edge of the area. A sweet strike by the forward beat De Gea but flew just wide.
Still the openings continued to come at the Spanish keeper's end with Barnes heading off target and miscuing a half-chance at the near post following a neat pass by Kightly. Yet United came good in stoppage time when Rooney and Angel Di Maria worked a short corner and the Argentinian stood the ball up to the back post, allowing Smalling to again display his aerial prowess to leave Heaton with no chance again.
The lead was a precarious one as the Clarets really should have been level moments into the second half. Ings' superb lay-off allowed George Boyd to cross and, when Smalling missed his clearance, De Gea had to thwart Ings from point-blank range. Smalling then clattered the rebound against the visiting no.10 and the ball cannoned over the bar, much to United's relief.
Adnan Januzaj's shot deflected off Keane to facilitate a comfortable save from Heaton and Di Maria had appeals for a penalty refused following a mazy dribble, but Louis van Gaal's men struggled to outwit a well-organised and motivated defence.
With Ings working tirelessly in attack and the Reds really struggling to put the game to bed, the outcome remained in the balance at Old Trafford. James Wilson came on for Falcao and tried to close down Heaton on a couple of occasions, but the match was decided in the final 10 minutes.
Kightly flashed over with the ball taking a nick on its way but, from the corner, Di Maria broke and was up-ended by Scott Arfield inside the area. Van Persie took on the responsibility and sent Heaton the wrong way from 12 yards with minimum fuss. Jason Shackell cleared off the line late on from Januzaj after Heaton blocked a Di Maria drive as the Reds moved back up to third in the table.
United: De Gea; McNair, Jones (Smalling 5), Evans, Rojo; Blind (Herrera 39), Rooney, Januzaj, Di Maria; Falcao (Wilson 74), van Persie.
Subs not used: Valdes, Valencia, Mata, Fellaini.
Booked: Rooney, Di Maria, Falcao, Wilson.
Burnley: Heaton; Trippier, Keane, Shackell, Mee; Boyd, Arfield, Jones, Kightly (Vokes 86); Barnes (Jutkiewicz 92), Ings.
Subs not used: Gilks, Lafferty, Duff, Wallace, Reid.
Booked: Mee, Arfield, Kightly.
Post by RyanGiggs.cc.