Great second half earns point against Manchester United
Burnley secured a fourth successive home draw last night in the Premier League but last night’s 1-1 draw against Manchester United couldn’t have been more different than last Saturday’s goalless stalemate when Watford were our visitors.
Things didn’t look too good in the first quarter of the game with our visitors hitting the net three times with two of them, thankfully ruled out, but we hung in until half time and then saw the Burnley we want to see in a second half with a performance that earned us this very deserved point after Jay Rodriguez had drawn us level early in the half.
I’d like to report that the weather conditions were better than Saturday; and they were, but not by much. We still had the constant rain, but this is Burnley so we expect it. The slightly better news was that the temperatures were a shade higher and the wind wasn’t quite as strong.
Sean Dyche made two changes. I’d expected Josh Brownhill to come straight back in for Dale Stephens who had played his first Premier League game in almost eighteen months against Watford. I did think that Aaron Lennon was unfortunate to miss out but Dyche opted to pair Rodriguez and Wout Weghorst up front. Jay himself had been unfortunate not to be in the team against Watford after his performance at Arsenal. To add to that, Ashley Barnes was on the bench. How we’ve missed a fully fit Barnes.
Ahead of kick off, a minute’s silence was observed to remember those Clarets who had passed away in the last year. Disappointingly, some of the visiting fans found it impossible to remain silent. It’s only the second time we’ve had this damaged by away fans; the previous occasion was in 2018 when, on that occasion, our visitors were Manchester United.
It was the United fans finding their voices early in the game as they got on top on the pitch, scoring once, seeing two other efforts ruled out and missing a chance because of sheer brilliance from Nick Pope.
The first of the disallowed goals was given by referee Mike Dean. It took a long VAR review, firstly for a foul and then for offside before Dean went to the monitor and ruled it out for offside. That was a relief but it didn’t last long. Next time they had the ball in the net, when Paul Pogba converted a Luke Shaw ball in from the left, it counted and we were behind.
Pope kept us in it with two outstanding saves, the one to deny Edinson Cavani was incredible when he seemed to appear from nowhere to deny the striker a simple header from almost on the line.
The one consolation in the first half was us at least ending their domination and getting into the game to a slight extent in the closing stages but nothing to suggest we might turn things round. As the players trooped off, I was thankful we were only one goal behind but I wasn’t too hopeful ahead of the second half but how different that second half was to be.
We got forward from the off, got two balls into their box, one from an excellent Erik Pieters cross. They came to nothing and United broke forward. James Tarkowski denied them with a good block before Ashley Westwood brought the ball out. He linked with Rodriguez and Cornet before playing the ball inside for Weghorst. The striker beautifully turned to get the better of both Harry Maguire and Scott McTominay before playing a reverse pass to Rodriguez.
Weghorst had his assist and just a few minutes later he was so close to getting his first Burnley goal. He did have some good fortune with the ball rebounding to him but his shot from over 25-yards on the half volley looked a certain goal until De Gea pulled off a terrific save down to his right to deny him.
This really was the best we’d seen Burnley play for some time and it was such a shame that we couldn’t get a second although just past the hour we could have been playing against ten men. Jay Rod got in front of Maguire who brought him down. After initially looking as if he’d give nothing, Dean awarded the free kick and yellow carded Maguire with VAR ruling that the ball was too far in front of Jay for it to be deemed denying an obvious goalscoring opportunity. Like us in the first half, I do think Maguire, the fourth best central defender on view last night, was fortunate.
United had to do something so they brought on Cristiano Ronaldo who proceeded to head over the bar and he, like his team mates, couldn’t turn things back United’s way although they did start to get more of the play again.
It would, though, have been a rank injustice had we not got something from this game. As disappointing as we were in the first half, the second half lifted everyone’s spirits and it is that sort of performance that will give us hope.
It’s almost unfair to pick out individuals but again our two central defenders were excellent and the partnership between the hugely impressive strike pair looked more than promising.
Wout awaits his first Burnley goal; Jay finally scored his 100th league goal some 360 days after he scored his 99th at Crystal Palace. For the record, 41 of those he’s scored for Burnley with three for Stirling Albion, one for Barnsley, 26 for Southampton and 29 for West Brom.
I was brassed off over the weekend after the Watford game and wasn’t too happy last night at half time. I went home last night with a spring in my step.
Things don’t get easier though. It’s Liverpool next and the whinging Klopp, but no matter what happens this Sunday, that second half has given all of us a lift as we look forward to the rest of the season.
The teams were;
Burnley: Nick Pope, Connor Roberts, James Tarkowski, Ben Mee, Erik Pieters, Dwight McNeil, Josh Brownhill, Ashley Westwood, Maxwel Cornet (Aaron Lennon 69), Wout Weghorst, Jay Rodriguez (Ashley Barnes 88). Subs not used: Wayne Hennessey, Matt Lowton, Phil Bardsley, Nathan Collins, Kevin Long, Jack Cork, Dale Stephens.
Yellow Cards: Erik Pieters, Josh Brownhill.
Manchester United: David de Gea, Diego Dalot, Raphael Varane, Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw, Paul Pogba, Scott McTominay (Jesse Lingard 80), Marcus Rashford (Anthony Elanga 85), Bruno Fernandes, Jadon Sancho, Edinson Cavani (Cristiano Ronaldo 68). Subs not used: Dean Henderson, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Victor Lindelöf, Phil Jones, Nemanja Matic, Juan Mata.
Yellow Card: Harry Maguire.
Referee: Mike Dean (Wirral).