A wasteful Manchester United dropped out of the Premier League’s top four after they were held to a 1-1 draw at bottom side Burnley on Tuesday.
United dominated right from the off and had an early effort ruled out by VAR for offside before Paul Pogba, on his first league start since mid-October, hammered home his first goal of the season to give the visitors a deserved lead.
Ralf Rangnick’s side should have added to their advantage before the break but Burnley goalkeeper Nick Pope kept them at bay with several fine saves, while the hosts did not have a single effort at goal in the opening period.
United were made to pay for their profligacy as, out of nowhere, Burnley levelled through Jay Rodriguez two minutes into the second half from their first meaningful attack of the game.<The visitors lost all of their first-half rhythm after that setback and could not find a winner despite plenty of late pressure, as they dropped to fifth in the standings on 39 points from 23 games, one behind West Ham United in fourth with 40 points.
With Newcastle United beating Everton on Tuesday, Burnley fell even further behind in the race to beat the drop and now trail Eddie Howe’s side in 17th by four points, having played two games fewer.
“We had control,” United captain Harry Maguire told BT Sport.“We have got to win the game with the amount of chances we created. We had to get that second goal. Two points dropped.”
Without veteran top goalscorer Cristiano Ronaldo, who started on the bench, United’s interchangeable front three were too hot to handle for Burnley in the first half.
Bowen on target
West Ham United moved back into the top four as Jarrod Bowen's second-half goal gave them a narrow 1-0 win over relegation-threatened Watford. Watford more than held their own for long periods against West Ham in a scrappy contest, but were undone in cruel fashion as Bowen’s 68th minute shot took a wicked deflection to beat goalkeeper Ben Foster.
Roy Hodgson’s Watford had been the better team early on but West Ham improved to earn an important victory.
West Ham have played more games than all their rivals in the top-four battle, but after consecutive league defeats they are right back in the mix for Champions League qualification. “We know how important tonight (Tuesday) was even if it was an ugly game,” Bowen said. “All we can do is focus on ourselves.
“We have a lot of games coming up so it is important to take maximum points.”
The build-up to the game had been overshadowed by West Ham having to issue a statement condemning their defender Kurt Zouma after a video on social media showed him kicking his pet cat.
Zouma, who apologised for his actions which caused outrage and potential punishment by West Ham, was in the starting line-up but was booed by large sections of the crowd.
Newcastle United earned a huge win in their battle to avoid relegation as they came from a goal down to beat Everton 3-1 and move out of the bottom three on Tuesday. On what could prove a pivotal night for Newcastle, they produced one of their best displays of the season with goals by Ryan Fraser and Kieran Trippier sealing victory after the break.
A rocking St James’ Park crowd celebrated as though survival was assured at the final whistle, and although there is a long way to go before they can breathe easy Newcastle are finally moving in the right direction.