Cristiano Ronaldo of Manchester United is challenged by James Tarkowski of Burnley during the Premier League match between Manchester United and Burnley at Old Trafford on December 30, 2021 in Manchester, England.

PLAYER RATINGS: Manchester United 3 Burnley 1

Burnley remain two points adrift of safety in the Premier League after ending 2021 with defeat at Old Trafford.

By Dan Black
Friday, 31st December 2021, 6:00 am

United, who were the only side in the top flight without a goal in the opening 15 minutes of a game, went ahead in the eighth minute, against the run of play.

Matt Lowton had put the ball on a plate for Chris Wood in the minutes prior, after Dwight McNeil's attempt was blocked, but the New Zealander turned his header well wide.

The Red Devils capitalised as Cristiano Ronaldo's loose control from Mason Greenwood's pass rolled fortuitously to Scott McTominay who, using Ashley Westwood to shield the flight of the ball, finished past Wayne Hennessey with a first time shot.

Burnley, again, had the chance to find the net before United's second, when Johann Berg Gudmundsson's strike from Matt Lowton's delivery was blocked by Aaron Wan-Bissaka.

The hosts doubled their lead in the 27th minute when ex-Borussia Dortmund forward Jadon Sancho broke into the box from the left hand side, glided past James Tarkowski, before picking out the corner via a nick off Ben Mee's boot.

Wood wasted a golden opportunity to reduce the arrears following a tussle with Harry Maguire, but, having battled to get goal side of the England international, the striker's effort was blocked with Aaron Lennon, unmarked just yards to his left, in a much better position.

And the visitors were punished again. Hennessey turned McTominay's effort on to the woodwork only for Ronaldo to flick the ball into an empty net, scoring against the 121st team of his career in the meantime.

Sean Dyche's side handed themselves a lifeline before the break when Lennon intercepted possession from Wan-Bissaka, skipped past the challenge of McTominay, raced alongside Maguire and threaded the ball into the far corner.

Burnley kept the home side at bay after the break, with Ben Mee and James Tarkowski both heading wide from a couple of Ashley Westwood corners, though Hennessey produced a number of excellent saves to keep out McTominay's piledriver and Edison Cavani's close range effort.

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