Manchester United are through to the quarter-finals of the Carabao Cup following a straightforward 2-0 win over Burnley at Old Trafford.
Christian Eriksen’s first-half goal from close range following excellent work by recalled right-back Aaron Wan-Bissaka gave United the lead. A wonderful solo effort from the in-form Marcus Rashford early in the second half then put Erik ten Hag’s team in total control.
Burnley, led by former Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany, were competitive enough and there were some uncomfortable moments for the home side when Manuel Benson had the ball at his feet. Martin Dubravka also looked shaky in the United goal.
But the superior quality came from the Premier League side in their first game since Cristiano Ronaldo’s exit. They take their place in Thursday’s quarter-final draw with hopes increasing that Ten Hag can mark his first season with a trophy – United’s first since 2017.
How Man Utd had too much for Burnley
With Harry Maguire ill and Lisandro Martinez in Argentina celebrating his country’s World Cup win, United were forced to play Casemiro in the centre of defence. The experienced Brazilian had some hairy moments but played his part in the clean sheet.
With Bruno Fernandes providing the creativity, it was always going to be difficult for Burnley to keep United out at the other end. Indeed, the Championship side’s determination to play out from the back saw them bring some of the difficulties on themselves.
The opening goal was all about the attacking play, however. Fernandes picked out Wan-Bissaka and the out-of-favour full-back did brilliantly to hook the ball into the centre, providing Eriksen with a straightforward task to fire beyond Bailey Peacock-Farrell.
Dubravka, with a missed punch and a careless touch, kept Burnley interested but Rashford’s goal ended any serious hope of a comeback. Fresh from scoring three goals for England at the World Cup, his driving run from the halfway line concluded with a smart finish.
Darko Churlinov might have made it an interesting finale had he beaten Dubravka when one-on-one but it was not to be for Burnley. It is Manchester United into the last eight – beginning the post-Ronaldo era with a confidence-boosting victory.
Neville: Massive chance for Man Utd to end drought
Sky Sports’ Gary Neville:
“That was massive for Manchester United tonight. They could not afford to lose that game. This is their best chance of winning a trophy, they have got to get back to winning trophies.
“Erik ten Hag has got to get on the path to winning trophies and this is the best chance for them. They have to go for it. This is their best chance. It’s been five years since they last won a trophy, this is a great chance for them.”
Player of the match: Marcus Rashford
“I think he has been at a different level tonight to many of the other guys on the pitch,” said England international Izzy Christiansen on co-commentary for Sky Sports. “His quality, his turn of pace. It is a really positive sign for him, putting on a fantastic performance.”
“I actually think that’s the hardest of the positions that Marcus plays, on the right,” said Gary Neville in the studio. “I think he’s better centrally and on the left but he looks more enthusiastic and willing to play there. He has come back and looks like he is happy.”
Manchester United dedicated 81 words to Ronaldo in their Burnley programme following his acrimonious Old Trafford exit last month – although none of them could be found in the manager’s own pre-match notes with Ten Hag preferring to discuss other matters.
There was, however, a brief reference within the ‘Worth Knowing’ feature of pages six and seven of the United Review which marked Ronaldo’s departure. It read: “Cristiano Ronaldo left the club by mutual agreement last month.
“The Portuguese superstar scored 145 goals across two spells and 436 appearances, and helped us win three Premier League titles, one FA Cup, two League Cups, the Champions League and the FIFA Club World Cup. Ronaldo was also crowned Ballon d’Or winner in 2008.
“In a statement on November 22, the club put on record its gratitude for Cristiano’s immense contribution and wished him and his family well for the future.”
Neville: Time to move on from Ronaldo
Neville said the manner of Ronaldo’s exit was sad yet inevitable, and the time has come for both parties to move on.
“The only thing Manchester United could do was draw a line under the Ronaldo affair,” Neville told Sky Sports. “They couldn’t allow the situation to come to this side of the World Cup, it needed to be put to bed. They’ve handled it really quickly and the way it has ended is the best for both parties.
“It’s sad it’s ended this way but it was inevitable, it had to finish. He will go on and play football elsewhere and hopefully do really well, and Manchester United can move on under Erik ten Hag.”
Manchester United return to Premier League action against Nottingham Forest on December 27; kick-off 8pm.
Burnley are also in action on December 27 as they host Birmingham at Turf Moor in the Championship; kick-off 8pm, live on Sky Sports Football.