Manchester United 2-0 Burnley: Player ratings as Eriksen & Rashford send Red Devils into Carabao Cup quarter-finals
Manchester United returned to competitive action with a comfortable 2-0 victory against Championship leaders Burnley on Wednesday night, easing into the Carabao Cup quarter-finals.
Erik ten Hag bluntly outlined the club’s expectations for the tie pre-game: “We have to win.” That obligation was evident from the presence of five returning World Cup players in United's starting XI - a selection decision which paid off in the short term at least.
Portugal's quarter-finalist Bruno Fernandes dropped in front of Burnley’s mesh of bodies, floating a pass just within the reach of Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s telescopic leg. The advanced full back hooked the ball across the box for Denmark's Christian Eriksen to tap in from close range in the 27th minute.
There was a strong whiff of Manchester City about Burnley - from their manager Vincent Kompany to the glut of Cityzen loanees and even the light blue shirts they donned - but United's opener was a cutback goal very much out of Pep Guardiola's playbook.
Within the opening hour, Marcus Rashford had doubled United's lead. Collecting the ball deep inside his own half, the England international took off, gathering speed with each long stride. Louis Beyer tied himself in a knot trying and failing to keep up with United's number ten as Rashford seared into the box, rifling a crisp strike into the bottom corner.
Each time they fell behind, Burnley responded with a squall of pressure, threatening chiefly through the fleet-footed Manuel Benson before Darko Churlinov and Ashley Barnes missed the target after the break. But Martin Dubravka and his self-destructive tendencies posed just as great a danger to the hosts.
Manchester United's definitively second-choice goalkeeper flapped at a corner kick so dramatically Casemiro was forced into a goal-line clearance. Moments later, Dubravka let a back pass squirm under his studs, hurriedly scurrying back to preserve his side's advantage going into the interval. The former Newcastle custodian was tackled in his own box after the break yet somehow emerged with a clean sheet - despite his best efforts.
Manchester United player ratings (4-2-3-1)
GK: Martin Dubravka - 2/10 - Extremely uncertain when the ball was airborne or on the deck.
RB: Aaron Wan-Bissaka - 8/10 - On his first start of the season Wan-Bissaka not only provided the defensive solidity expected of him but showed an uncharacteristic attacking flair.
CB: Casemiro - 7/10 - Scarcely put a foot wrong even in an unfamiliar position.
CB: Victor Lindelof - 5/10 - Not entirely comfortable when lured out wide but limited those duels.
LB: Tyrell Malacia - 5/10 - More reserved than his opposite full back, raiding forward sparingly.
CM: Scott McTominay - 5/10 - Carried the ball confidently but was rushed once he had cantered into the final third.
CM: Christian Eriksen - 7/10 - As well as poaching the opening goal from three yards out, Eriksen was heavily involved in the first phase of United's buildup.
AM: Bruno Fernandes - 5/10 - Pulled off a Hollywood pass for United's first goal but was wayward far more often as he continued to attempt the extravagant.
RW: Marcus Rashford - 9/10 - Just ten days after England's quarter-final exit, Rashford returned to action with an enthusiastic and energetic display that belied his lack of respite.
ST: Anthony Martial - 6/10 - Flitting in and out of the game, peppering his performance with silky touches.
LW: Alejandro Garnacho - 5/10 - Desperate to burst behind Burnley's backline but lacked composure once he had breached the wall of light blue.
Antony (58' for Garnacho) - 4/10
Anthony Elanga (71' for Martial) - 5/10
Luke Shaw (72' for Wan-Bissaka) - 5/10
Fred (85' for Rashford) - N/A
Brandon Williams (86' for Malacia) - N/A
Erik ten Hag - 7/10 - Six weeks after his team's last competitive match, Ten Hag watched his side produce a surprisingly sharp display.
Burnley player ratings (4-2-3-1)
GK: Bailey Peacock-Farrell (7); RB: Connor Roberts (5), CB: Taylor Harwood-Bellis (5), CB: Louis Beyer (4), LB: Ian Maatsen (5); CM: Josh Cullen (6), CM: Jack Cork (5); RW: Manuel Benson (7), AM: Josh Brownhill (5), LW: Johann Berg Gudmundsson (6); ST: Ashley Barnes (4)
SUB: Darko Churlinov (5), Scott Twine (N/A)