Rodriguez strikes as Burnley deny Man Utd
Manchester United slipped out of the Premier League’s top four as Jay Rodriguez’s first goal in 50 league games earned bottom club Burnley a precious point at Turf Moor.
For the second game running, United dominated the play and had most of the chances, with Paul Pogba putting them ahead with his first goal of the season.
But just as against Middlesbrough in the FA Cup, the visitors were made to pay for their profligacy.
💥 Wout a turn, what a goal!
Here’s the highlights from tonight’s game 🙌 #BURMUN | #UTC pic.twitter.com/BcFW6wfzkX
— Burnley FC (@BurnleyOfficial) February 8, 2022
On this occasion, they had two first-half goals disallowed, while Nick Pope made excellent saves to deny Marcus Rashford, Edinson Cavani and Raphael Varane.
In contrast, Burnley made the most of their brief spell in the ascendency at the start of the second period, as Rodriguez ran onto Wout Weghorst’s through-ball to score his 100th career league goal.
It means United drop to fifth, with the three teams below them all capable of catching them if they win their games in hand.
Burnley are four points from safety, but are three unbeaten, even if their run without a win now extends to 10 matches.
Pogba’s sublime finish from Luke Shaw’s cut-back in the 18th minute was a thing of beauty.
Given far too much space inside the Burnley penalty area, Pogba astutely steered his first-time shot into the roof of the net, giving goalkeeper Pope no chance.
It was one of those moments which underline Pogba’s status as one of the best midfielders in the world.
But there is another side to the £90m man. Taking possession inside his own half close to the touchline, he spun round, away from a Burnley defender into space and was perfectly placed to switch play across the pitch.
Instead, Pogba smashed the ball down the touchline to no-one. Those infuriating moments have happened far too frequently since he returned to Old Trafford for a second time in 2016 and explains why not many United fans will shed a tear if Pogba leaves the club for nothing for a second time when his contract expires at the end of the season.
When United were chasing the game, Pogba didn’t really step up either, although for the second successive game, interim boss Ralf Rangnick will wonder about a VAR decision that went against his team.
This time, it was Varane who had what would have been his first goal for the club ruled out.
Even though the Frenchman was clearly onside as he ran onto a Bruno Fernandes free-kick before steering a header into the far corner, Harry Maguire was offside before he blocked Rodriguez’s attempt to get back ad defend. After consulting the monitor, referee Mike Dean ruled the effort out.
Another goal, when Josh Brownhill turned in a Rashford cross, was disallowed by a foul from Pogba on Ben Mee in the build-up.
New boy Weghorst shows his strengths
Burnley boss Sean Dyche invested £12m in Netherlands striker Weghorst last month as a replacement for Chris Wood, who left for relegation rivals Newcastle.
Against Watford on Saturday and the first-half here, Weghorst was on the periphery, with a few decent touches but not much else to show for his efforts.
Within the first 10 minutes of the second period, though, the 29-year-old showed what an asset he could be.
Questions could be asked about Maguire letting Weghorst turn and run free in the build-up to Rodriguez’s equaliser but the forward had the nimbleness to take advantage and his pass was perfect.
Weghorst then brought an excellent full-length save out of De Gea with a shot from outside the box.
It was an object lesson in maximising what you have.
And while Newcastle’s win took the gloss off Burnley’s result, Dyche’s side have now avoided defeat against Arsenal and Manchester United in the past three games and provides some reason for optimism ahead of Liverpool’s visit to Turf Moor on Sunday.