Man United 3-1 Burnley: Cristiano Ronaldo on-target in Old Trafford win
Cristiano Ronaldo finds the net in Manchester United's victory over Burnley: Dan Mullan/GettyImages

Cristiano Ronaldo got himself back amongst the goals as Manchester United put Burnley to the sword at Old Trafford. 

Scott McTominay and Ronaldo scored, either side of an unfortunate Ben Mee own-goal, to put United in cruise control after just 35 minutes.

Aaron Lennon marked an unexpected start with an equally unexpected goal, however, it was to be nothing but a consolation in the final Premier League game of 2021. 

Story of the match

Ralf Rangnick made six changes to the team that struggled against Newcastle United. Only Harry Maguire kept his place in defence with McTominay and Ronaldo the only survivors further forward. Bruno Fernandes was suspended. 

Burnley hadn't played a competitive match since December 12, through no fault of their own, but Sean Dyche weas forced into two changes. Both Nick Pope and Jay Rodriguez had Covid so in came Wayne Hennessey and Aaron Lennon

The Burnley squad was looking thin and they couldn't manage to fill their substitutes bench but the struggling visitors made a purposeful start to the match. 

Matt Lowton whipped a gorgeous ball to the back post but Chris Wood could not keep his header down. 

Just a minute later, Lennon – playing in a front-two with Wood – released his strike partner in behind and the New Zealand international bent an effort narrowly wide. The offside flag eventually appeared but it was another slight worry for the hosts. 

It was an action-packed opening and as the clock reached six minutes, United should have made Burnley pay for their missed opportunities. 

Luke Shaw caught the visiting defence napping with a long punt up the pitch and Ronaldo surged through on goal. You'd have put your house on Ronaldo breaking the deadlock but the Portuguese superstar ballooned his effort over the bar. 

Still, the Red Devils only had to wait a couple of minutes for their goal and Ronaldo – albeit inadvertently – was involved again. 

Burnley could only half-clear after pressure from Mason Greenwood and Ronaldo's loose touch carried the ball across the edge of the box for McTominay, who delicately curled the ball into the net from the edge of the box. 

In the true spirit of this opening, though, Burnley nearly equalised less than 60 seconds later. Johann Berg Gudmundsson was left unmarked in the box and his fierce half-volley had to be blocked by Harry Maguire. 

What an eventful opening 10 minutes! 

Shaw was playing like a man with a point to prove and, after a slight lull in the ferocity of the match, he rippled the side netting after going on a lung-bursting run from inside his own half. 

It was no surprise to see Shaw involved in United's second goal but it owed a great deal to the efforts of another England international. 

Shaw nudged the ball to Jadon Sancho and the winger ran at a backtracking Burnley defence, before shifting inside onto his right foot and placing the ball into the far corner, via a touch from Mee.

The goal's panel actually declared the effort as an own-goal but it was all about Sancho. It was a moment that was reminiscent of the 21-year-old's days at Borussia Dortmund, even if the Burnley defence did give him all the time in the world.

Ronaldo was smelling blood at this point and the 36-year-old was left visibly frustrated after seeing his shot blocked from point-blank range as he brought the ball down in a promising position. His goal felt inevitable. 

On 35 minutes, Burnley once again left McTominay unmarked on the edge of the box and the Scot struck a wonderful first time effort towards the top corner. Hennessey made a brilliant stop, pushing the ball onto the post, but Ronaldo was on hand to tap the rebound home.

Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates his goal: Matthew Peters, via Manchester United/GettyImages
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It looked like the floodgates were going to open at Old Trafford but, against the script, Burnley quickly got themselves on the scoresheet. 

After a loose touch from Eric Bailly, Lennon latched onto the scene and skipped past two challenges before trickling an effort across David de Gea and into the corner. A super goal from the veteran. 

The Red Devils started the second-half strongly and Greenwood should have wrapped the game up just a few minutes after the interval, but Hennessey did well to parry his first-time strike from inside the box.

Just before the hour mark, Dale Stephens came on for Jack Cork for his first appearance of the season, a move which was probably to manage minutes with the small size of Dyche's squad so plain to see, and it was no surprise to see the next chance fall to United. 

McTominay, channelling his inner Paul Scholes once more, forced Hennessey into an excellent fingertip save with a swerving 30-yard strike after a neat tee-up from Ronaldo. 

Shortly after, Lennon received a huge applause from the travelling Burnley fans as he made way for Matej Vydra. It was lovely to see the rightful praise for a Premier League legend, who absolutely rolled back the years in a touch match for the East Lancashire outfit. 

Diogo Dalot's appearance in the final 10 minutes, replacing Greenwood, was a small sign of hesitancy from Rangnick.

In the other camp, Erik Pieters came on to offer Dwight McNeil a few minutes of rest as the Clarets looked to try and maintain a fairly respectable score-line. Inevitably, taking something from the game was simply a too great a challenge for Dyche's troops. 

While this was a big improvement on United's feeble efforts against Newcastle United, there is still a long way to go before they are competing with the best teams in the division. Rome wasn't built in a day, however, and Rangnick will have been happy with the win. 

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