Tayo .


Post match report: Cristiano Ronaldo inspires commanding win as Red Devils keep top four hope alive

Mutterings had already started as to whether the hipsters' hero could do it as manager of a club the size of Manchester United.

Most certainly the very early signs in the league had not been great.

A passable 1-0 home win over Crystal Palace, a lucky victory by the same scoreline at Norwich and then the awful performance away to Newcastle when they were very fortunate to get a point.

But this was more like a United side ensuring their quality oversaw the underdog as the Premier League waved goodbye to 2021.

An early opener from Scott McTominay was followed by Ben Mee toeing a shot from Jadon Sancho past his own goalkeeper and then Cristiano Ronaldo gobbling up a loose ball to make it 3-0 after just 35 minutes.

To think this was supposed to be a good night to meet United after that awful 90 minutes at St James’ Park.

Well it was most certainly a good night to meet Burnley who increasingly look doomed to the drop. They still have only one win in the league this season.

They had mitigation having not played for 18 days with their last three game postponed due to Covid. That virus had also done for four of their first team players last night including goalkeeper Nick Pope and Jay Rodriguez.

Still this was disappointing on the whole as United took them to pieces.

Rangnick had reacted to that performance in the North East by making six changes to his team, only one of which was enforced with Bruno Fernandes suspended.

Yes, you can expect rotation during this busy period, but that many changes told a story as three of the back four were swapped and both Marcus Rashford and Fred left out.

None of them could argue and most definitely not with the quality of Luke Shaw in his return at left-back.

Nobody could argue either about the outstanding performer on the night and what Scott McTominay regularly provides for the Red Devils.
He can get a very unfair ride from some pundits.
For me he is as under appreciated as Michael Carrick was during his time at the club.

The drive and energy he gives the midfield on nights like this is central to what United do. He put them ahead after eight minutes.

McTominay has that great ability to ghost in from deep to pick off loose balls and let fly just a she did when Ronaldo lost control on the top of the box and the Scotland international curled in a low shot.

United’s second on 27 minutes owed much to the work of Shaw to win the ball and force it to Sancho.

The England winger turned James Tarkowski too easily and his low shot clipped the toe of Mee and crept inside the far post.

Ronaldo was having a little hissy fit at not getting involved in the goals but his anger subsided on 35 minutes.

McTominay again coming from deep thundered a shot from 22 yards that crashed off the right hand upright. The ball rebounded out to Ronaldo who clipped it into an empty net.

Easy, yes, but he was there and that’s why he scores so many, because he is just there.

Burnley did nick one back three minutes later to give them some hope.

Eric Bailly lost the ball, Aaron Lennon picked it up and made his way to the edge of the area before twisting a firing a superb low cross shot back across David de Gea into the far bottom corner.

It was false hope, however, as United maintained their lead in the second period and came close to extending it.

Mason Greenwood had a shot well saved then McTominay hit another long distance pile-driver that Wayne Hennessey did well to touch over.

So it’s happy birthday Sir Alex Ferguson who turns 80 on New Year's Eve.

And happy new year to the fifth incumbent since he retired who can at least look to 2022 with a bit of optimism.

Not as much as there was around the club 12 months ago.

On New Year’s Day they had beaten Aston Villa to go joint top of the league with Liverpool.

That was during a run of 13 unbeaten league games ten of which were wins.

This victory merely ensured United did not end a year outside the top six for the first time since 1989.

Small steps for another new boss on what remains a very long and winding road for this club.


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