Manchester United 3-1 Burnley: Ronaldo on target in Premier League win

Manchester United blow Burnley away inside 45 minutes at Old Trafford as strikes by Cristiano Ronaldo, Scott McTominay and a Ben Mee own goal ensure routine win to boost Ralf Rangnick’s top four hopes

  • Scott McTominay gave Manchester United perfect start with an eighth-minute goal following first-time strike
  • Jadon Sancho’s effort across goal then deflected off Ben Mee for an own goal to make it 2-0 
  • Cristiano Ronaldo nonchalantly tapped home 10 minutes before half-time to take game away from Burnley
  • Aaron Lennon pulled a deserved goal back for the visitors, to give them hope of a second half comeback
  • But United managed the second period well to seal a comfortable win to take them back into the top six 

The  last Premier League game of the year and Manchester United can only hope it bodes well for better times in 2022.

Victory over a spirited but struggling Burnley at Old Trafford lifted them into sixth place in the table after a turbulent few weeks. It is 32 years since United went into the New Year outside the top-six, and that infamous ‘Ta’ra Fergie’ banner appeared here in December 1989.

On Thursday night, it was an 80th birthday greeting that fluttered across the Stretford End before kick-off, and Sir Alex Ferguson will have appreciated that from his seat in the directors’ box just as much as a more positive, controlled display from United that was rewarded by three goals before half-time. 

Cristiano Ronaldo (left) celebrates scoring Manchester United’s third goal in a 3-1 win over Burnley with Scott McTominay

Ronaldo’s unorthodox tap-in put United 3-0 inside just the first 35 minutes in the Premier League clash at Old Trafford

Former United boss Sir Alex Ferguson gives the thumbs up following an excellent first half display by the Red Devils

It was much needed after unconvincing performances against Newcastle and Norwich, the bottom two clubs. Burnley occupy the other spot in the relegation zone and are now without a win in six games, so nobody at United should get too carried away.

But at least caretaker boss Ralf Rangnick remains unbeaten and United finish a difficult year on a high.

When Anthony Martial and Bruno Fernandes scored in a 2-1 win over Aston Villa here all the way back on New Year’s Day, United were joint top with Liverpool and 2021 was looking bright.

They were even out in front for a while in January, but that lead was soon overhauled by Manchester City and a distant second-place finish wasn’t as much cause for celebration as some at Old Trafford might suggest. 

Ronaldo had earlier missed an excellent chance to open the scoring in the sixth minute when he fired over the crossbar

But just two minutes later, Scott McTominay curled home an excellent strike from the edge of the penalty box

In front of jubilant United supporters, the Scotland international celebrates scoring the opening goal of the game


Manchester United (4-2-2-2)

De Gea 6; Wan-Bissaka 6.5, Bailly 6 (Varane 66min, 6), Maguire 5.5, Shaw 7.5; McTominay 8, Matic 6.5; Sancho 7, Greenwood 7 (Dalot 81); Cavani 6.5, Ronaldo 6.5 (Fred 90+2).

Scorers: McTominay 8, Mee 27 (og), Ronaldo 35.

Manager: Ralf Rangnick 7.

Burnley (4-4-2)

Hennessey 6.5; Lowton 6, Tarkowski 5.5, Mee 5, Taylor 6; Gudmundsson 6.5, Cork 6 (Stephens 58, 6), Westwood 6, McNeil 5.5 (Pieters 84); Lennon 7 (Vydra 74, 6), Wood 6.5.

Scorer: Lennon 38.

Manager: Sean Dyche 6.

Referee: Jon Moss 7.

Season at a glance

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer lost the Europa League final and then his job, leaving behind a less-than-happy camp.

Neither Martial or Fernandes were in the squad on Thursday. Martial, we now know, is one of the players who want out and an increasingly frustrated Fernandes was suspended after picking up his fifth booking of the season at Newcastle on Monday. For dissent, of course. On this evidence, there is no guarantee he will come straight back into the team.

He was one of six changes from a dreadful team performance at St James’ Park. Burnley boss Sean Dyche was forced into two of his own after Nick Pope and Jay Rodriguez tested positive for Covid-19, so Wayne Hennessey made his first Premier League start in goal since June 2020 and Aaron Lennon played up front.

The Wales keeper was beaten inside eight minutes but not before Burnley had made the brighter start, Chris Wood sending a diving header over from Matt Lowton’s cross. 

United doubled their lead when Jadon Sancho’s (second right) low strike across goal deflected off Ben Mee and into the net

Sancho is congratulated on his effort by team-mates Luke Shaw (23) and Nemanja Matic after putting United 2-0 up


United boss Ralf Rangnick publicly criticised his team’s performance against Newcastle – and it seems his players took note as they came blasting out of the blocks:

1 Scott McTominay’s opener was the first goal Manchester United have scored in the first 15 minutes of a Premier League match this season. They became the 20th and final side to achieve this.

3 United scored three goals in the first half of a Premier League game for the first time since their 9-0 demolition of Southampton in February

Cristiano Ronaldo was guilty of an awful miss at the other end as he side-footed over with only Hennessey to beat after Luke Shaw’s throughball had sent the Portugal star clear on goal.

Fortunately for United, the outstanding Scott McTominay was more clinical moments later when he claimed his first goal of the season. This was a night when he seemed hell bent on scoring.

Mason Greenwood’s effort from a tight angle was blocked, and he played the ball back to the edge of the box. It was intended for Ronaldo who took a touch, but McTominay saw his chance and curled the ball around Ashley Westwood and beyond the unsighted Hennessey.

Burnley struggled to cope with Shaw’s forays down the left, and he was the catalyst for United’s second goal in the 27th minute.

Shaw’s pass encouraged Jadon Sancho to advance on goal and he cut inside James Tarkowski before firing low towards the far corner. The ball took a nick off Ben Mee on its way inside the post, leaving the unfortunate Burnley captain with an own-goal against his name.

Ronaldo was left screaming in despair again when he couldn’t get the ball out of his feet in front of goal from McTominay’s pass, but his moment was coming.

Greenwood switched play to the right in the 35th minute and Sancho laid the ball back to the edge of the box. McTominay tried his luck again with a curling shot that Hennessey touched onto the post, but it rebounded kindly for Ronaldo who was onside and free to score in an empty net. 

After a disappointing performance at Newcastle, boss Ralf Rangnick would have been pleased with his side’s display

Aaron Lennon pulled a goal back for Burnley but it was not enough to seriously trouble United who held on comfortably

Burnley were three down but certainly not out and served warning that they hadn’t given up by scoring their first goal in four games.

Lennon seized on a poor touch by Eric Bailly to win the ball and ran at Harry Maguire, who looked uncomfortable at times again here. The former England winger raced into the box and clipped a shot past Maguire and beyond David de Gea’s dive to give Dyche’s side hope.

Hennessey was the only reason it didn’t disappear altogether in the opening 20 minutes of the second half, keeping out Greenwood’s effort and yet another McTominay curler from the edge of the box.

Bailly had to go off – which may be a concern for Ivory Coast seeing as he was about to catch a flight to the Africa Cup of Nations when he was called up for this game by United – Edinson Cavani needed treatment for what he claimed was an elbow to the head from Mee, and Maguire took a painful blow to the ribs.

But those were the only concerns for United as they closed out the match – and the year – quite comfortably.

There were though injury concerns for Eric Bailly who had to be replaced by Raphael Varane during the second half

United supporters unveiled a banner ahead of kick-off for Ferguson whose 80th birthday is on New Year’s Eve


Host commentator

Ronaldo is subbed in the final minute for Fred, and he is given his own applause before Unite’s victory is confirmed.

90min: And yet Burnley should have set up a tense stoppage time! A ball into the United box finds an untracked Pieters yet he swipes wildly at the ball and fails to make clean contact with it as United hack clear.

There will be three added minutes.

87min: United have managed this second half well, and they look well on their way to three points – very much putting that poor Newcastle display behind them.

84min: Burnley seem to have run out of ideas this half as they send on Erik Pieters for Dwight McNeil in their final change.

81min: A slightly defensive shift from Ralf Rangnick as he sends on Diogo Dalot for Mason Greenwood for the final 10 minutes or so.

79min: A few Burnley stars are wearing their battle scars tis evening, James Tarkowski blocks a Ronaldo free-kick with the top of his head, and needs a bit of treatment to regather his thoughts.

74min: Lennon has been excellent this evening for Burnley but his legs are run as he makes way for Matej Vydra in Burnley’s second change.

71min: Stunning save from Hennessey and a brave one too! Ronaldo’s header into the area eight yards from goal is fiercely struck by Cavani but Hennessey isn’t ducking out the way of it and blocks it with his face.

He is flagged offside but I reckon VAR would have overturned that call had the ball gone in.

68min: Half-chance for Burnley but not much more as Ben Mee nods over a difficult header at the back post following a corner.

66min: Bailly’s night is done as he sits stricken on the pitch, and after quick activity on the bench to throw Raphael Varane on, Bailly limps off towards the United changing room.

64min: United counter from that corner though, and nearly grab a fourth goal.

Jadon Sancho finds Cristiano Ronaldo inside the box, whose cutback finds Scott McTominay, with his 25-yard side footed effort well tipped over by Wayne Henessey.

61min: Burnley to their credit are still looking to attack when they can but the United defence appears to have stepped up a gear this half.

They do win a corner though after Aaron Lennon charges into the box and wins the set-piece despite appearing to have the last touch in his battle with Eric Bailly.

Lennon has impressed in just his second Premier League start this season.

58min: Not quite the action we saw from the first half so far as Burnley make the night’s first change by sending on Dale Stephens for Jack Cork.

51min: Good stop from Wayne Hennessey. Ronaldo’s dummy is helped on across goal into the box by Edinson Cavani for Mason Greenwood, whose powerful first time shot is too central but is threatening and requires the Burnley keeper to parry clear to safety.

48min: Half-chance but not much more for United as Ronaldo steers a near post header wide of the post. The delivery into the box always seemed to lack power for him to take full advantage.

United deservedly lead but Burnley have played their part in this pulsating affair so far.

45+1min: Two further added minutes but to be honest it’s a shame this half is going to come to an end. Both sides have produced some excellent football this half.

41min: The chances keep on coming as Ronaldo then heads over at the backpost – cracking game so far this.

38min: You know what, Burnley have deserved that. They really have not been 3-0 down bad and get reward for some of their attacking play in this first half as Aaron Lennon charges forward and cuts a lovely finish across goal with a low effort. That’s almost as good as anything he did in his peak years at Spurs.

35min: That’s outrageous from Cristiano Ronaldo. First, it’s an excellent stop from Hennessey to push McTominay’s 20-yard drive on to the post.

But on the rebound and begging for a simple left footed volleyed pass into an open goal, the Portuguese instead flicks home with the outside of his right foot. Granted it’s an open goal he is aiming at, but it’s still an exhibition finish.

30min: And very nearly 3-0. Ronaldo is found inside the box but after cutting inside his goalbound drive is crucially blocked wide.

27min: The game is running away from the Clarets now. A defensive mix-up on the ball allows Luke Shaw to attack the left flank, before he releases Jadon Sancho into the box. 

The forward cuts inside and aims to pick out the bottom corner, with his low attempt taking what looks like a crucial deflection of Ben Mee and into the bottom corner for an own goal.

26min: Well, except that. Dwight McNeill plays a one-two with James Tarkowski with a short corner, only for his cross into the box to be well overhit.

23min: Still plenty in this for Burnley who continue to hold their own well in this first half. Lots of positive signs for Sean Dyche’s side who have asked a few questions of the United defence.

20min: After that barnstorming opening 10 minutes, the game has meandered along since. However, Luke Shaw has just gone an adventurous run to the edge of the penalty box before he fizzes an effort just wide of the near post.

11min: Back come Burnley who have otherwise started this game with promise as Matthew Lowton’s cross finds Johann Gudmundsson at the back post, whose low drive is well blocked.

8min: That’s how it’s done Ronnie! Mason Greenwood cuts the ball back to Ronaldo on the edge of the box, but his first touch instead sets up Scott McTominay to curl a lovely finish into the bottom corner.

6min: I’ve seen it all now. Forget Wood, this is an even bigger miss from Cristiano Ronaldo. Luke Shaw’s ball over the top puts the forward in on goal following an excellent first touch with his head, but with just Wayne Hennessey to beat, he somehow places a finish over the crossbar (below). Dreadful by his sky high standards.

4min: But that’s a chance for Burnley! A cross lifted into the box finds Chris Wood unmarked but he can only head wide at full stretch. He will be disappointed with his finish there.

3min: Burnley are seeing a lot of the ball in the early stages, but so far their long passes are failing to cause United much problems. 

Here is a reminder of the teams as we get underway at Old Trafford

Man Utd: De Gea, Wan-Bissaka, Bailly, Maguire, Shaw, McTominay, Matic, Sancho, Greenwood, Cavani, Ronaldo.
Subs: Rashford, Lingard, Fred, Varane, Dalot, Henderson, Alex Telles, Van de Beek, Elanga.

Burnley: Hennessey, Lowton, Tarkowski, Mee, Taylor, Gudmundsson, Westwood, Cork, McNeil, Wood, Lennon.
Subs: Stephens, Collins, Pieters, Norris, Bardsley, Vydra, Thomas.

Referee: Jonathan Moss (County Durham)

What’s on the line? For Manchester United a chance to start 2022 in the top six, while Burnley will be hoping to climb out the relegation zone.

That defeat by Blackburn is still one of the most incredible games I have ever seen in the Premier League and I do not say that lightly.

Blackburn went 2-0 up having only had two shots and barely any possession inside the United half – they were getting battered!

It only looked like one side would win it when United pulled it back to 2-2… only for Steve Kean’s side to steal a winner. An astonishing game.

Cristiano Ronaldo and Edinson Cavani are being put through their paces while former Burnley keeper Tom Heaton is also among the United ranks.

Their record looks bad. They are inside the bottom three and have won just ONE Premier League match all season.

Yet they have only played 15 games and have at least two games in hand with many around them. They have also lost just two Premier League matches since September and one of those was against champions and league leaders Manchester City.

Win tonight, and they will be out of the bottom three.

That means there are six changes in total as Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Luke Shaw and Eric Bailly come in to alter the defence as Diogo Dalot, Alex Telles and Raphael Varane make way.

Nemanja Matic, Jadon Sancho and Edinson Cavani also come in as Fred, Bruno Fernandes and Marcus Rashford drop out of the team.

Burnley meanwhile make two changes to the team who drew against West Ham last time out as Wayne Hennessey replaces Nick Pope in goal and Aaron Lennon comes in for Jay Rodriguez.

De Gea, Wan-Bissaka, Shaw, Bailly, Maguire, Matic, McTominay, Sancho, Cavani, Greenwood, Ronaldo.

I say shock but Burnley actually have a decent recent record at Old Trafford. They won 2-0 here last year while back in 2019 they also drew 2-2 having been 2-0 up with three minutes to play.

That followed another 2-2 draw on Boxing Day in 2017 and goalless draw a year before that.
Sean Dyche’s side may be favourites to lose this evening but history suggests they have no fear factor at this ground.

There has been rain in the air, which looks like it has cleared for now as supporters begin to arrive.

We are right in the heart of the Christmas schedule so we have seen a few surprise results this week including Chelsea slipping up at home to Brighton last night as well as Liverpool’s loss at Leicester City.

Although you could argue that point sailed away a long time ago even before Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was axed.

But after the latest flop performance at Newcastle, how many more chances will some of these United ‘stars’ get?

Good evening all and welcome to our live coverage of Manchester United vs Burnley in the last Premier League game of 2021.

Manchester United will be hoping for a return to form when they host Burnley in the final Premier League match of 2021 at Old Trafford.

Ralf Rangnick’s side were highly criticised after being forced to rescue a draw at struggling Newcastle United last time out and will be looking for a return to winning ways.

Victory for the Red Devils will take them above Tottenham Hotspur and into the Premier League top six as they aim to keep up their bid of reaching the top four.

Follow Sportsmail’s DAN RIPLEY for live Premier League coverage of Manchester United vs Burnley, including build-up, team news and updates.  

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