Burnley 0-2 Manchester United


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Man United kept up their chase for the top four in the Premier League with a comfortable win over Burnley.

United started brightly, and nearly went in front in the the first ten minutes but, Wayne Rooney’s shot from very close range was saved by Tom Heaton. Also, with more than ten minutes played, Marouane Fellaini had a header well saved in the bottom corner by Heaton.

Michael Keane had a decent chance for Burnley, but he headed wide from a good position. Straight after that, United went the other side of the pitch and scored. Wayne Rooney sent Anthony Martial on his way, who played it to Ander Herrera, and after Herrera laid it off, Martial swept it home past Heaton to put United in front.

It was Martial’s 25th goal for United, which means that they have to pay an extra £8.5m to his former club, Monaco because of a clause in his contract. He hasn’t had as good a season as last year, but he showed glimpses of last year in this game.

In the 39th minute, United doubled their lead through Rooney. Paul Pogba played in Martial, who had a shot well blocked by Heaton, but it came through to Rooney, who scuffed home the second of the match. It was his first goal since January, when he had become United’s all-time top scorer, but he has had to wait three months for number 251.

Burnley’s home form has been very good this season, with 32 points out of their 36 points won at home. But, in this game they struggled to cope with United, and their only real chance was at the end of the first half, when Andre Gray had a shot well blocked by Eric Bailly inside the box. From the resulting corner, Gray tried an acrobatic effort, but ended up missing the ball.

The second was comfortable for United, with hardly any chances for either teams, but United never looked in danger of conceding. The only time Burnley looked threatening was in the last 10 minutes when Keane headed across goal from a free-kick and substitute Daniel Agyei placed his right-footed snap-shot past the post.

Because of the season-ending injuries to Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Marcos Rojo, Mourinho was forced to shuffle his team around once again. He has to start Daley Blind at centre-back, partnering Bailly but, Blind looked assured and composed throughout the game.

He also had brought in Rooney and Martial for Ibrahimovic and Marcus Rashford. Mourinho must’ve had one eye on the Manchester derby on Thursday and the fact that Rashford has played a lot recently, so must be a bit jaded. Rooney completed a full 90 minutes for the first time since September and enjoyed a productive partnership with Martial.

United remain in fifth place, one point off Man City on Thursday, with the game on Thursday looking huge for either team’s hopes of qualifying for next year’s Champions League. Burnley are now sitting in 16th place, five points above the relegation zone. They have only won once in 11 matches and have not one away all season.

Next up for United is the Manchester derby on Thursday, the 27 April. Hopefully they can get the win to move into the top four.

Wigan Athletic 0-0 Cardiff City


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Cardiff played out a goalless draw at second-bottom Wigan.

The Bluebirds hardly had any chances all game. They had nothing to fight for as they far away from the play-off places and the relegation zone. Wigan on the other hand, will go down if Birmingham avoid defeat at Aston Villa on Monday. Their hopes of remaining in the Championship are out of their hands.

In the first half, both sides struggled to get a foothold in the match and the first shot on target didn’t come until well after the half hour mark. Michael Jacobs did have a shot for Wigan which went well wide. Reece Burke also had an effort for Wigan, but his shot went narrowly wide to the left. 

Wigan almost broke the deadlock when Craig Morgan fired over the bar from close range. Cardiff did have a decent chance in the first half, but Craig Noone hit the bar from a difficult angle. Both teams struggled to carve out clear-cut chances.

In the second half, substitute Nick Powell could have given the hosts the lead, but substitute Rickie Lambert was on hand to block the shot. City also came close to going in front, but from Rickie Lambert’s header from a Noone cross, Bruno Manga was unable to get to the ball to tap it in.

Wigan look like a team heading for League One. They are six points from safety with only six more points to play for. They have been unable to recover from a poor start which saw them with five points from the first nine games. They have the second-worst goal scoring record in the league, with 39 goals in 43 games.

Cardiff remain in 13th place, with the rest of this season planning for next season. But, their winless away run stretches to six games. The rest of the games will give Neil Warnock a chance to see who he wants to keep and who he’s going to get rid of in the summer.

Next up for the Bluebirds they are at home to second-placed Newcastle on Friday, the 28 April. Hopefully they can get back to winning ways against a tough opposition.

Manchester United 2-1 Anderlecht (AGG 3-2)


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Man United scraped through to the Europa League semi-final, with a Marcus Rashford extra-time goal seeing off Anderlecht.

It was a huge night for Old Trafford, with the Europa League becoming a top priority with their position outside the top four in the Premier League. The Europa League gives an automatic spot in the Champions League, which United should be in every year.

United took the lead on the night in the 10th minute through Henrick Mkhitaryan. He drilled in a low finish to put United ahead in the tie. Most people would’ve expected them to ease to victory after that. But, Anderlecht were still in the game and they restored parity in the 32nd minute through Sofiane Hanni, who scrambled home an equaliser.

United were their own worst enemies in this game, missing chance after chance. But, Anderlecht did have chances, especially in the first half, and could’ve been in front at the break. In the first half, Rashford had a shot well saved and so did Luke Shaw, who had a very good game.

In the second half, the bad finishing continued, with countless good chances being wasted. It was also looking like Anderlecht were going to score a sucker-punch which would break United hearts. If they would’ve lost, they would’ve only had themseleves to blame.

Anderlecht were threatening on the counter-attacks, which made the sucker-punch look even more likely. Zlatan Ibrahimovic was possibly the main culprit of the shocking finishing. Even though he has scored a lot of goals this season, he has missed a lot as well. But, Ibrahimovic got injured right at the end of normal time and had to go off for Anthony Martial.

It showed United were chasing the game when they brought on Marouane Fellaini. He was an aerial threat, winning headers in the opposition box but not managing to score. All these misses weren’t just decent chances, some of them were from point blank range, with Ibrahimovic missing a couple of them.

The game looked like it was heading for a penalty shootout but, Rashford, who is starting to find his form of last season, finally got the goal United had been craving to the whole game. It was a brilliant turn and finish from Fellaini’s knockdown in the 107th minute.

Rashford had also been one of the main culprits for the shocking finishing, alongside Ibrahimovic and Paul Pogba. The shocking finishing has been the flaw in United all season, but this time it wasn’t costly to the final result.

United have taken another step towards securing the place in next season’s Champions League, but at a cost. Marcos Rojo also got injured, and it looked a similar one to Ibrahimovic. They both have suffered crucial knee-ligament injuries and are out for the season.

They are both very costly, with Ibrahimovic the top scorer and Rojo having a very good season. Chris Smalling and Phil Jones are also out injured. United will have to battle through the rest of the season with several squad members injured.

Mourinho was appointed to bring back Champions League football to Old Trafford, and at the moment it looks likely that it will happen. But, he will know his side must discover the killer touch against better sides they will play.

In the semi-final, United will play Celta Vigo. The first leg will be played away on the 4 May and the second leg will be at Old Trafford on the 11 May. Hopefully United will be able to make it through to the final.

Next up for United is a trip to Burnley, who are very strong at home, on Sunday, the 23 April. Hopefully they can carry on their winning form.

Cardiff City 1-0 Nottingham Forest


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Aron Gunnarsson’s long-range effort won the game for Cardiff against relegation-threatened Nottingham Forest.

There wasn’t much action in a cagey first half, but Peter Whittingham did hit the crossbar with a thunderous effort from 30 yards out. Anthony Pilkington came close, but his shot was blocked. Forest did came fairly close, but Mustapha Carayol’s powerful long-range effort went just wide. The biggest entertainment seemed to be in the dugout, where Cardiff assistant manager had to be kept apart from his opposite number in the Forest dugout after frayed tempers almost led to a scuffle.

In the second, Forest had some renewed attacking intent, with Carayol seeming to be their main threat, with his direct and quick running. Kenneth Zohore nearly took the lead with a left-foot attempt from just outside the box which went narrowly wide.

Carayol forced a good save from Allan McGregor in the Cardiff goal, as Forest fancied their chances. But, in the 70th minute, City took the lead through Gunnarsson. After some good play by Kadeem Harris on the left-wing, his cross was only half cleared, with the ball coming out to Gunnarsson who fired a fantastic strike, swerving away from Jordan Smith and into the far corner.

Forest did have their big chance with about five minutes to go, but substitute Apsotolos Vellios headed against the bar from very close range. The Bluebirds held on to win their third successive home win and climb up to 13th in the league. Forest drop to 21st, one point above the bottom three.

Next up for the Bluebirds is a trip to Wigan Athletic. Hopefully they can carry on the winning run.

Manchester United 2-0 Chelsea


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A resurgent Man United deservedly beat leaders Chelsea, whose lead at the top was cut to four points.

United started strongly straight away. Marcus Rashford wasted a good chance with five minutes gone but, he did open the scoring in the seventh minute. Ander Herrera played a perfectly timed ball through to him and he finished coolly past Asmir Begovic in goal, who was replacing the injured Thibaut Courtois. There was a suspicion of handball by Herrera when he intercepted Nemanja Matic’s pass but United won’t care.

Rashford was paired up front with Jesse Lingard, with the jaded Zlatan Ibrahimovic on the bench, and they did a fantastic performance threatening the defence with fantastic energy. It was a fantastic tactical move by Jose Mourinho.

Antonio Conte will feel frustrated that he didn’t have his first choice goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, as he was injured and Asmir Begovic had to cover him. Marcos Alonso was also injured in the warm-up, with Kurt Zouma having to replace him. Conte will feel that luck was against him.

The real masterstroke was to deploy Herrera to man-mark Eden Hazard throughout. He covered his every move and didn’t give him a sniff throughout the whole game. Hazard didn’t affect the game in anyway, and it shows that if some of the Chelsea players don’t perform, Chelsea struggle badly. Diego Costa also didn’t affect the game. He was more intent on fighting with Marcos Rojo and Eric Bailly than concentrating on the game. He was back to his bad old ways.

Conte had complained in the quarter-final of the FA Cup that United players had targeted Hazard, but this time he was targeted fairly and don’t have a kick all afternoon. And it was Herrera who escaped Hazard’s attention to fire in form outside the box, albeit via a deflection from Zouma which wrongfooted Begovic.

Even N’Golo Kante, who doesn’t seem to have a bad game, was for once not as effective as usual. It was a bitterly disappointing afternoon for Chelsea. Although they will feel that they got the rough ends of the refereeing decisions.

In the end United were dominant and fully deserved the victory against a Chelsea side, who only lost for the fifth time this season. After two losses already this season against his old team, Mourinho finally beat them, with one of their best performances this season.

This loss for Chelsea has blown the tile race wide open, with Tottenham only four points behind with six games to go and with a better goal difference. Chelsea have a more favourable run-in, but with Tottenham’a form at the moment, I wouldn’t bet against them catching Chelsea.

Chelsea did look to be strolling to the title, but after a loss to a Crystal Palace at home and a this loss, Spurs will fancy their chances. Tottenham have won seven successive league win for the first time since 1967 with a 4-0 home win over Bournemouth on Saturday.

United have moved above Everton into fifth, four points off fourth-placed Man City, with a game in hand. Next up is the second leg of the Europa League quarter-final at home to Anderlecht. Next up in the league is a trip to Burnley on Sunday the 23 April.

Sheffield Wednesday 1-0 Cardiff City


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A late goal by Fernando Forestieri won the game for Sheffield Wednesday against Cardiff.

Sheffield Wednesday came closest in a goalless first half, with Allan McGregor pushing Ross Wallace’s shot onto the post. Cardiff did come close though, with Joe Ralls having a shot from distance spilt by Keiren Westwood, but Kenneth Zohore failed to capitalise. Ralls had another shot which Westwood again fumbled, but Cardiff failed to capitalise again.

In the second half, from an Aron Gunnarsson long throw, Ralls headed it on and Greg Halford just failed to get on the end of it. Wednesday came close to opening the scoring, with a Jack Hunt cross hitting Bruno Manga, but hitting the post.

City were frustrating their opponents, with Wednesday looking the team most likely to score. The pressure finally told, when two substitutes combined with Forestieri heading in after Jordan Rhodes’ shot was saved by McGregor. It kept them in the play-offs ahead of Fulham.

Cardiff remain in 14th, with nothing to fight for now, and the rest of the games this season are preparation for next season. Wednesday held on to sixth spot in the league.

Next up for the Bluebirds they are at home to Nottingham Forest next Monday, the 17 April. Hopefully they can get back to winning ways.

Anderlecht 1-1 Manchester United


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A late goal denied Man United a win at Anderlecht, in a game where they were comfortable for the majority of the match.

Anderlecht did start brightly, with Frank Acheampong having a couple of efforts blocked. But, apart from that United looked fully focused on the task of putting themselves in a good position to go through to the semi-finals, and another step towards automatic qualification for the Champions League going into the second leg at home next week.

United did nearly go in front, but Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s shot from point blank range was saved by Martinez in the Anderlecht goal. From the rebound, Jesse Lingard hit the post. That was the closest either team had come to scoring. United were having shots, but they were mostly outside the box and not threatening the opposition, apart from a Marcus Rashford dipping shot from distance which narrowly missed.

United do take the lead in the 36th minute. Antonio Valencia crossed in for Rashford, whose decent shot was spilled out by Martinez, allowing Henrick Mkhitaryan to tap in from a tight angle. It looked an easy chance, but it was tough with the tight angle and it was on his weak foot.

Even though United were looking comfortable, there was always the slight chance that the one goal wasn’t going to be enough. Rashford was always threatening from the left with his pace. But, Ibrahimovic had a poor game, giving away the ball easily and not threatening up front.

But, Rashford got subbed off with fifteen minutes to go and Marouane Fellaini, which lost United the pace on the attack. His goal return has been questioned by Jose Mourinho, but he put in a very good performance in this game.

United should’ve finished the game off in the last 10 minutes, but Paul Pogba shot was saved by the shins of the keeper when one-on-one with him. From the resulting corner, Fellaini headed straight at the goalkeeper. United were always vulnerable to the sucker punch from 21 year old Leander Dendoncker. 

And, in the 86th minute, Ivan Obradovic crossed in for Dendoncker, who got ahead of Matteo Darmian to head home with his side’s first effort on target. It was so frustrating for United, who had subdued the hosts until one defensive lapse, which allowed the equaliser.

Mourinho was clearly frustrated with his side’s poor finishing, even though it was a decent performance. It was another poor result away in the Europa League, with poor results against Feyenoord, Fenebahce and Rostov. The complexion of this tie was changed by the the late goal.

Because of United’s position in the league being outside the top four, Mourinho has been forced to take this tournament seriously. They will have to concentrate in the second leg and make sure they get the win and make it through to the next round. But, they will still fancy their chances of making it through.

The second leg is to be played next Thursday, the 20 April. Hopefully United can progress to the next round.

Sunderland 0-3 Manchester United


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Man United eased to a victory over bottom club Sunderland to put them in further relegation trouble.

United didn’t start that well, with some slow build-up play. Sunderland were comfortable defending against them. They nearly went in front with about half an hour played – Jermain Defoe firing narrowly wide, although he was narrowly offside when the pass was played. 

Just after that, Jesse Lingard went past Jason Denayer, before firing into the bottom corner but, Jordan Pickford made a good save. United did take the lead in the 30th minute through Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Ander Herrera passed the ball to him, he turned Billy Jones, before finishing brilliantly into the far corner with a curling right-foot shot from just outside the box.

The game got worse for Sunderland, with Bryan Oviedo going off with an injury. Just after that, Victor Anichebe had a shot saved by Sergio Romero about six yards from goal. Romero was starting instead of the injured David de Gea.

The game went from bad to worse right at the end of the first half, with a contentious red card for Sebastian Larsson. He went over the ball on Ander Herrera, but it probably didn’t merit a red card. Larsson was furious at referee Craig Pawson. It’s his first red card ever in the Premier League in his 278th game in the competition.

45 seconds into the second half, United doubled their lead. No Sunderland player had touched the ball when Luke Shaw, on his return to the starting line-up, passed to Henrick Mkhitaryan, who hit a low left-foot shot into the bottom corner. 

Jermain Defoe, who is pretty much Sunderland’s only hope and will surely leave if they go down, had an effort which Romero saved in the top right corner. Sunderland look drained of any confidence 11 hours and 15 minutes without scoring in the top flight. They have lost 6 out of seven league games and look destined for the Championship. Their relegation could be confirmed as soon as April 26.

Substitute Marcus Rashford finished off the scoring in the 89th minute, finishing off a fine counter-attack. It was his first goal since 24 September. Jose Mourinho had said that he was suffering from a major lack of confidence caused by his lack of goals.

Mourinho made five changes to his side’s 50th competitive game of the season, but one was enforced with an injury to David de Gea. He also rotated players with the first leg of the Europa League quarter-final against Anderlecht on Thursday in mind.

One of those changes was a surprise return for Luke Shaw. But, Shaw put in a very good performance and even got a pat on the back from Mourinho when he came off. It was with Gareth Southgate watching. He created a brilliant chance for captain for the day Marouane Fellaini, and also assisted Mkhitaryan for his goal.

United extended their unbeaten run in the League to 21 games. They are now four points behind fourth-placed Manchester City, with a game hand on them and a game against them coming up. They climbed to fifth in the league. On the other hand, Sunderland are 10 points from safety with seven games left.

Next up for United is a trip to Anderlecht on Thursday, the 13 April in the first leg of the Europa League quarter-final. Hopefully they can get the victory. Next up in the league they are at home to league leaders Chelsea. Hopefully they can carry on their winning form in the league.

Cardiff City 2-1 Brentford


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A Peter Whittingham goal won the game for Cardiff in a game where they had to come from behind.

It was a game between two sides who have nothing to fight for and it threatened to be a game with lack of action. Both sides are realistically out of contention for promotion and safe from the threat of relegation. 

Both sides squandered chances in the first half. After Whittingham had passed the ball out to Joe Bennett on the left, he crossed the ball in for Junior Hoilett, who fired over the bar. Brentford also had a chance with Yoann Barbet forcing a superb save from Allan McGregor in the Cardiff goal.

Brentford were the team who controlled possession in the first half, crowding the midfield. Cardiff on the other hand, looked to stretch the game with pacy wingers Hoilett and Kadeem Harris. Brentford’s patient possession game did come to good use at the end of the first half.

In the 42nd minute, Konstantin Kerschbaumer got the ball, before charging through the Bluebirds defence and squaring it for Sergi Canos to finish low into the bottom corner to put the away side in front.

A minute after the restart, Cardiff levelled through Sean Morrison. Whittingham floated in a corner, and Morrison got above his marker to head home. City enjoyed more of the possession after the equaliser and took the lead in the 76th minute. Harris got the ball from Joe Ralls, before crossing it in for Kenneth Zohore who headed it down for Whittingham who finished with a right foot half-volley into the bottom corner.

City remain in 14th, one point behind Brentford in 12th, who had their three-match winning run in the Chanpionship ended in this match.

Next up for the Bluebirds is a trip to Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday 14 April.

Manchester United 1-1 Everton


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A stoppage-time penalty from Zlatan Ibrahimovic salvaged a draw for Man United, as they once again drew at home.

It was a frustrating game for United, as they had most of the possession, but failed to threaten an impressive Everton side, with most of their passing slow and sideways. A lot of it was in front of the Everton defence, with no real creativity to break through.

In the 22nd minute, Everton opened the scoring. A corner came in, Ashley Williams won the header, and Phil Jagielka nipped in ahead of Marcos Rojo to deftly flick past David de Gea. De Gea possibly could’ve come out and get the ball, but Rojo also should’ve dealt with it.

United nearly scored after the goal – Joel Robles making a good save to stop a Daley Blind free-kick, and Andre Herrera hitting the bar from the follow-up. Herrera also forc d into a full-stretch save from long range.

In an attempt to get more creativity, Mourinho brought on Paul Pogba’s for Blind, with Herrera moving back to left-back. But, five minutes into the second half, Herrera swapped with Ashley Young – moving to right-back. Herrera was playing full-back even though Matteo Darmian and Luke Shaw were on the bench.

10 minutes into the second half, Pogba hit the bar with a header from a Ashley Young free-kick. Just after the hour mark, Mourinho brought on Henrick Mkhitaryan, who was dropped because Mourinho wasn’t happy about his performance on Saturday, and Shaw, whose commitment had been questioned by the manager.

Ibrahimovic had a goal wrongly ruled out for offside. His arm was offside, but you don’t use your arm so it shouldn’t have been disallowed. United were staring at a first defeat since the 4-0 hammering at Chelsea in October before the penalty. 

Ronald Koeman was staring at a third successive 1-0 victory at Old Trafford, with the other two being with Southampton. He would’ve been the first Premier League manager in history to win three successive away games at Old Trafford.

But, deep into stoppage time, Shaw’s right foot volley was heading in, before Ashley Williams dived and stopped it with his hand. He was sent off and United had a penalty and a huge let-off. Ibrahimovic coolly stroked home the penalty into the corner.

Everton had defended resolutely, especially Williams who patrolled the team, until his late error. Mason Holgate put in a vey good performance at right-back. They were one minute away from winning this point and leapfrogging United, but they ultimately only came away with a point.

For United, it was another poor performance at home, following the stalemate on Saturday against West Brom. It brought back memories of the time under Louis Van Gaal and his slow style of play. He was criticised for that and these last two performances have certainly been similar to those performances.

Also, after 29 games, in his first season Van Gaal had two more points and a place higher at the same point in the season. It doesn’t help that Marouane Fellaini is playing, who isn’t a good player at all and doesn’t fit into the United philosophy. Mourinho had Mkhitaryan on the bench and he decided to start Fellaini instead.

United have been indebted to Ibrahimovic this season, and he said before kick-off that the club are still in talks about signing a new deal for next season. He has scored 27 goals, but some of his play in this game was poor.

The point means United extend their unbeaten run to 20 games, but have now drawn nine times at home in the league and 12 overall. They have now dropped down to sixth, after Arsenal beating West Ham. They have the same amount of points but, Arsenal have a better goal difference. United still have a busy April to play and it has started with two draws, with five further league and two Europa League games to play.

Next up for United is a trip to bottom of the table Sunderland. United desperately need the win and the three points.