Manchester United clawed their way back to winning ways with a scrappy 1-0 victory over Burnley on Saturday evening.
It was far from comfortable for United, who were second-best in the first half before Bruno Fernandes’ beautiful volley put the Red Devils ahead in the dying embers and saw Ten Hag’s side secure a much-needed three points.
An apparent hamstring injury to Sergio Reguilon may have put a downer on proceedings for United, who lost Lisandro Martinez before the game as well, but it did ultimately lead to a debut for summer signing Sofyan Amrabat, who saw the game out at left-back.
How the game unfolded
Marcus Rashford and Bruno Fernandes both saw good chances in the early stages as United found space down the left, but the same side of the pitch saw Burnley break and Zeki Amdouni popped up with a header which needed a smart save from Andre Onana inside the first ten minutes.
Amdouni struck the post soon after, with Burnley’s high tempo proving far too much for United at times. The Clarets boasted close to 70% possession in the early stages and looked more than comfortable playing with the ball.
Against the run of play, United nearly took the lead. Jonny Evans, whose last start for United came over eight years ago, rose highest to nod home Sergio Reguilon’s corner 25 minutes in, but VAR felt Rasmus Hojlund was impeding goalkeeper James Trafford and ruled the goal out for offside.
As the first half came to a close, Aaron Ramsey’s strike from range stung the gloves of Onana, but it was United who would have the last laugh as a beautiful volley from the energetic Fernandes saw the Red Devils sneak ahead at the break.
It was more than a little fortunate for United, who had just 42% possession in the first half and managed five shots on goal compared to Burnley’s six.
The second half was a little more even. Both sides were charging forward with real energy, although clear-cut chances were at a premium.
Substitute Jacob Bruun Larsen got in behind but Onana was quick off his line and brave to dive on a volley as the game ticked into the final 15 minutes, but that was as close as either side came in the second half as United battled their way to three huge points.
Burnley player ratings (4-3-3)
GK: James Trafford – 6/10 – Did his job well. Could do absolutely nothing about Fernandes’ volley.
RB: Connor Roberts – 6/10 – Got forward really well and was never scared of taking risks in attack. Played some dangerous crosses.
CB: Ameen Al Dakhil – 7/10 – Put up a good fight against Hojlund. Didn’t always come out on top but did more than enough to frustrate the Dane. Made a great interception on Hojlund on the hour mark.
CB: Jordan Beyer – 5/10 – Poor positioning for a large part of the game. Allowed an ocean of space down his side which Fernandes exploited.
LB: Charlie Taylor – 5/10 – Equally as guilty as Beyer. Felt a little unorganised at the back.
CM: Josh Cullen – 6/10 – Energetic and problematic but a few sloppy passes limited Burnley’s impact in attack.
CM: Josh Brownhill – 7/10 – Really impressive. Happy to get physical with United’s midfielders and usually came out on top.
CM: Aaron Ramsey – 6/10 – Linked midfield and attack really well. A nice strike on goal late in the first half.
RW: Johann Berg Gudmundsson – N/A – Forced off early with an injury.
ST: Zeki Amdouni – 6/10 – Could have easily had a handful of goals in the first half. Caused problems for United’s defenders but will be frustrated not to have done better.
LW: Luca Koleosho – 6/10 – Caused major problems for United’s full-backs in the first half. His energetic drives into the box were the stuff of nightmares. Less impactful after the break.
SUB: Mike Tresor (19′ for Gudmundsson) – 6/10 – Regularly involved in Burnley’s best moments without ever providing the killer touch.
SUB: Sander Berge (73′ for Ramsey) – 6/10 – Kept things ticking in the final stages.
SUB: Jacob Bruun Larsen (73′ for Koleosho) – 6/10 – Made an immediate impact and have a few dangerous moments as United struggled to figure him out.
SUB: Jay Rodriguez (73′ for Amdouni) – 5/10 – Didn’t see too many opportunities.
SUB: Manuel Benson (86′ for Brownhill) – N/A
Subs not used: Arijanet Muric, Hannes Delcroix, Jack Cork, Anass Zaroury
Vincent Kompany – 6/10 – Brave to set Burnley up with so much desire. Definitely deserved more out of the game but ultimately didn’t seem to know the answers once United started to calm themselves down.
Man Utd player ratings (4-2-3-1)
GK: Andre Onana – 7/10 – Some solid saves in the first half when United were under pressure. Tried his best to create from the back but didn’t always have the options available to him.
RB: Diogo Dalot – 5/10 – Looked uncomfortable against Koleosho and wasn’t really involved in attack either.
CB: Victor Lindelof – 5/10 – Poor on the ball and nervy when defending. Stood out for all the wrong reasons.
CB: Jonny Evans – 8/10 – The sight of Evans in the starting lineup drew some laughs but the veteran defender more than justified his inclusion. Unfortunate to see a goal ruled out but it was his ingenuity and eye for a pass which saw United make the breakthrough.
LB: Sergio Reguilon – 7/10 – Impressive. Didn’t shy away from his battle with Burnley’s speedy wingers and always looked to make something happen when he did get on the ball. Appeared to pick up a hamstring injury.
DM: Casemiro – 6/10 – Did a decent job in the midfield. Had a tough time up against Brownhill but can’t fault his work rate.
DM: Scott McTominay – 5/10 – Offered very little in the battle with Brownhill and Ramsey. Didn’t look comfortable in possession either.
RM: Bruno Fernandes – 7/10 – Some outstanding work rate and perseverance to keep pushing after a frustrating first half. Never gave up and got the rewards with a delightful goal.
AM: Hannibal Mejbri – 6/10 – His final ball was lacking somewhat but Hannibal’s energy and desire were among the best on show for United.
LM: Marcus Rashford – 5/10 – Found it hard to get into the game. Wasn’t allowed to be at his best.
ST: Rasmus Hojlund – 6/10 – Had to work incredibly hard for limited opportunities but never gave up. Had a couple of nice moments without ever really looking likely to score.
SUB: Raphael Varane (79′ for Reguilon) – N/A
SUB: Sofyan Amrabat (89′ for Evans) – N/A
Subs not used: Altay Bayindir (GK), Donny van de Beek, Dan Gore, Christian Eriksen, Facundo Pellistri, Anthony Martial, Alejandro Garnacho
Erik ten Hag – 6/10 – Wise to switch to a man-to-man defensive setup to try and counter Burnley’s possession. Not the sort of problem United should be facing but that’s just the reality of the situation and Ten Hag clearly knew that.