Anthony Martial Goal Gives Manchester United Win vs. Burnley

Tom Sunderland@@TomSunderland_Featured ColumnistJanuary 20, 2018

BURNLEY, ENGLAND - JANUARY 20: Anthony Martial of Manchester United celebrates after scoring a goal to make it 0-1 during the Premier League match between Burnley and Manchester United at Turf Moor on January 20, 2018 in Burnley, England. (Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images)
Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images

Manchester United beat Burnley 1-0 at Turf Moor on Saturday to temporarily move within nine points of Premier League leaders Manchester City.

Anthony Martial continued his fine run of form and scored the only goal in United's trip away as the Red Devils clinched a fifth clean sheet in a row in all competitions.

United's third league win in succession also dealt Burnley their third consecutive defeat in the top flight, but the table-topping Citizens will have the chance to move back 12 points clear when they host Newcastle United on Saturday evening. 

Martial continued his run in Jose Mourinho's starting XI, while Juan Mata and Jesse Lingard occupied the right flank, with Phil Jones and Chris Smalling maintaining their all-English partnership in central defence.

Ex-United goalkeeper Tom Heaton returned to training for Burnley this week but was still deemed unfit to come into their squad, with Nick Pope backed up by another former Red Devil in Anders Lindegaard.

Pope will have been pleased to find he was barely tested in the opening 45 minutes, however, as both teams struggled to show any endeavour in the final third, and the hosts weren't exactly eager to take chances.

The Clarets were seventh coming into this clash, and the first goal was of crucial importance.

But Samuel Luckhurst of the Manchester Evening News noted just how attack shy the visitors were in the first half:

Some stern words at the break appeared to take effect for both teams, though, as Burnley and United each had differing fortunes with their opportunities soon after the restart.

Romelu Lukaku received the ball on halfway and showed great spacial awareness to spring free of Burnley's defence, before firing a superb pass across the edge of the area to Martial.

The Frenchman's task was far from done, but he used former United full-back Phil Bardsley to disguise his shot to the near post, ricocheting the ball off the crossbar.

Goal's Kris Voakes lauded his recent spike in form:

Johann Berg Gudmundsson almost levelled within minutes of Martial's breakthrough, but his free-kick from around 25 yards out could only clip the top of David De Gea's crossbar.

That was the beginning of Burnley's fine response to falling behind, and the hosts even took the upper hand for bouts of the remaining minutes, reducing United's share of possession closer to parity as they went.

ESPN's Rob Dawson was critical of Mourinho's side as they failed to show much composure in a winning position, as has been the case on multiple occasions already this term:

New loanee signing Georges-Kevin Nkoudou made his Burnley debut and came on for Scott Arfield with 10 minutes remaining, while Sean Dyche also brought attacker Nahki Wells on late.

Neither player could have the desired impact, though, as United gained some redemption for the 2-2 draw that Burnley held them to at Old Trafford in December.

The Red Devils temporarily hold City within single-digit range and will now hope for their Premier League peers to continue chipping away at the distance between them and their local rivals.

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