Chris Smalling scored a brace as Manchester United edged past Burnley 3-1 at Old Trafford this evening.
It was a poor performance from Man United and they were lucky not to go in behind at the break following an uncomfortable first half. As the game progressed, they quietened things down and Robin van Persie sealed the win with a penalty ten minutes from time.
United once again started slowly at home and former player Michael Keane almost put Burnley ahead inside the first three minutes but headed wide from close range.
Keane lost Phil Jones for the chance and the United defender picked up a knock in the process. He came off minutes later and his replacement Chris Smalling made an instant impact by heading United into the lead.
Fans might have expected United to push on after the goal but it was Burnley who hit back through Danny Ings. Finding too much space inside the box, the Englishman dived onto Kieran Trippier’s excellent cross and nodded in.
The equaliser sparked a nervy period for United who looked far from comfortable against Sean Dyche’s side. Hard-working and fearless to a man, Burnley hurried United in possession and didn’t let their opponents get into a rhythm. At the same time, they looked threatening offensively with Ashley Barnes coming close to curling in their second.
United managed to take the sting out of the game after a frantic 35 minutes and got themselves on the ball. The unfortunate Daley Blind had to come off with an injury which meant Ander Herrera got a chance to impress Louis van Gaal.
The switch meant Wayne Rooney moved into defensive midfield which was odd for United but an even more unusual sight for fans followed as Smalling got his second of the game. This time, Angel di Maria crossed for the defender to arrow another header into the bottom corner of the net.
It was another positive for United but Burnley should have been level two minutes into the second half. The chance again fell to Ings who fired at David de Gea before putting the rebound over the bar.
At the other end, Adnan Januzaj shrugged off the challenge of George Boyd before hitting a deflected effort straight at Tom Heaton. After 65 minutes United had finally settled into the game and they established an element of control.
The game quietened down as Burnley tired but United still had time to add a third through Robin van Persie’s penalty before Januzaj had an effort cleared off the line late on.