Manchester United moved a step closer to Champions League qualification with a professional performance to overcome Burnley 2-0 in their Premier League clash at Turf Moor on Sunday.
- Burnley 0 Manchester United 2
- Martial opens the scoring
- Rooney doubles the lead
- United one point behind City
Anthony Martial and Wayne Rooney's first-half strikes proved to be the difference on the day as Manchester United set up a tantalising mid-week Manchester derby – with Champions League qualification now firmly on the line.
Jose Mourinho's side came into the fixture brimming with confidence after advancing to the Europa League semi-finals and inflicting a 2-0 defeat over league leaders Chelsea last week.
And after the surprise 0-0 draw with Burnley in this season's reverse fixture at Old Trafford, the former Real Madrid boss was keen to avoid any similar scenario at Turf Moor.
United produced a composed and professional display against the disciplined Sean Dyche' lead outfit on the day, with Maroune Fellaini in midfield deployed effectively on target-man Ashley Barnes to nullify the home side's counter-attacking threat.
The big Belgian strangled the attacking supply to Barnes' strike partner Andre Gray for most of the encounter while Daley Blind and Eric Bailly picked up any loose balls in and around the area.
The much-maligned Martial and captain Rooney earned rare starts due to the recent injury of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, while the likes of Marcus Rashford and Henrikh Mkhitaryan were afforded rests by Mourinho.
And in the first-half they proved to be key, scoring the only goals of the game.
First the France international forward led a devastating counter attack on 20 minutes, skinning Joey Barton before leading an 80 meter run towards Tom Heaton's goal.
A quick one-two with midfielder Ander Herera saw the ball come straight back to Martial in the area, and with his second touch he slotted the ball under Heaton's body.
The second of the afternoon proved to be less easy on the eye, but Rooney managed to bundle home his first goal in over two months in the 38th minute.
Heaton did well to save the initial Martial shot at goal, but the veteran forward was quickest to the rebound to fire the ball in off defender Michael Keane.
Burnley were enjoying a good spell of possession at that point but in the second period they failed to register a single shot on target, and with United looking for further goals – the home side did well to keep the scoreline at 2-0.
The Red Devils are now a single point behind fourth placed Manchester City, who they face off against in mid-week and three behind Liverpool, whom they hold a game in hand over.