Football

Pogba sends Man United clear at the top with 1-0 win at Burnley

EPL
BURNLEY MANCHESTER UNITED
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  (Paul Pogba 71)

Manchester United moved three points clear at the top of the English Premier League after a Paul Pogba goal gave them a hard-fought 1-0 win over Burnley at a freezing Turf Moor on Wednesday morning (Jan 13, Singapore time).

The victory, in the re-arranged fixture, put United on 36 points from 17 games with rivals Liverpool on 33 points ahead of the clash between the two sides at Anfield on Monday morning (12.30am, Singapore time).

The breakthrough came in the 71st minute when Marcus Rashford floated in a ball from the right which Pogba met with a volley that deflected off the outstretched leg of Burnley defender Matt Lowton and beat the wrong-footed Nick Pope.

It is the first time United have been top of the league after 17 games since December 2012 and the victory was their seventh in eight games away from Old Trafford.

While United did not create as much as they would have expected against a team in 16th place, it was a determined and aggressive display from Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side.

“We had to dig in and earn it and we did,” said the United manager.

“We feel very confident going into games. Away from home, we have really done well. We have to believe in ourselves and we do. We’ve done a great job, it’s good times. It’s a test against the champions (on Sunday) who have been fantastic, that’s a great test for us,” he said.

United skipper Harry Maguire had an effort ruled out in the first half after referee Kevin Friend ruled he had pushed Erik Pieters as he rose to head in a Luke Shaw cross at the back post.

Burnley applied some late pressure and felt they should have had a penalty when the ball appeared to hit Maguire’s arm. James Tarkowski had a great chance to grab a point for the Clarets, but failed to make good contact from a goalscoring position.

The Red Devils could also count themselves lucky when Shaw escaped with just a yellow card for a reckless challenge on Johann Berg Gudmundsson in the first half. 

The referee initially allowed play to continue despite appeals from incensed Burnley players, with Robbie Brady bringing down Edinson Cavani just moments later.

Brady was then booked, prompting a VAR review, after which Friend rescinded the yellow card, brought back play and booked Shaw instead.

Former Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool midfielder Jamie Redknapp said on Sky Sports: "I think Luke Shaw will be a relieved man in the dressing room. In the current climate where the game is so sanitised, I think he gets a little bit of the ball but certainly goes over the top and catches him."

"For me that is reckless and dangerous. I think he is really lucky," added Redknapp, who believes Brady should have been sent off too had play not been brought back.

United should have wrapped up the win in the final minutes but Anthony Martial, through on goal, was denied by the legs of Pope.

Burnley were gritty and aggressive, but Juergen Klopp’s Liverpool side at Anfield will offer a very different prospect.

“Of course we know we’re going to the champions. They’ve had an unbelievable three seasons so we’re ready for it. But we’re ready and we’re excited, we’re hungry for it and it’s a test of character and quality again. We’re in a good position going into it,” said Solskjaer. – REUTERS

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