Manchester United had 11 attempts on target to Burnley’s one, and were denied not only by the brilliance of Tom Heaton’s goalkeeping but the inaccuracy of their own finishing, frustratingly held to a 0-0 draw at Old Trafford.
Ander Herrera was sent off for two yellow cards, but such was United’s dominance in possession that his departure barely registered. Given the chances United created — some 37 attempts in total — this was a desperately disappointing result.
Juan Mata put in a fine performance as the No. 10, Marcus Rashford again showed great intelligence and industry and Daley Blind passed out well from the back — and Paul Pogba showed some of the creativity that made him the leading assist-maker in Serie A last season.
The finishing. Zlatan Ibrahimovic was fairly good in his build-up play, especially as the match went on, but with the exception of a spectacular scissor-kick — somehow beaten away by Heaton — he missed some very presentable opportunities. Wayne Rooney sent a late set-piece over the bar, in a move symptomatic of the entire afternoon.
Manager rating out of 10
5 — Some responsibility must lie with Jose Mourinho. Against a team of Burnley’s spirit but limited enterprise, his decision to leave Henrikh Mkhitaryan out of the squad altogether is baffling.
However, this was also a game where the failures were not primarily tactical, and if United had gone ahead there was a sense they would have won comfortably. Yet it was still strange to see Mourinho withdraw Mata, apart from Heaton the game’s best player, with a substantial part of the game still to go.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK David De Gea, 6 — Was barely called upon to make a save of note, such was the extent of United’s superiority.
DF Matteo Darmian, 7 –– Got forward with as much enterprise as he probably ever has in a United shirt, the evidence of which were two penalty shouts as he dribbled into the box. A confident display.
DF Marcos Rojo, 6 — Was not tested too often, and played himself out of trouble when called upon to do so.
DF Daley Blind, 7 — Struggled once or twice against the pace of Andre Gray, but then so would anyone. Passed the ball out from the back beautifully throughout.
DF Luke Shaw, 8 — Overlapped very well and provided United’s key defensive moment, tracking back superbly to stop Gray closing in on goal. Few would have had the speed and awareness to do so.
MF Paul Pogba, 7 — Created enough for United to have won the game, swinging in some dangerous crosses and combining well with Ibrahimovic in particular as the game went on. Overcomplicated some of his play at the start, but became more effective when he kept it simple.
MF Ander Herrera, 7 — Was playing well before his dismissal, moving the ball around swiftly and passing into the final third with great purpose. Another fine defensive effort, and he orchestrated the play well from the base of midfield.
No. 10 Juan Mata, 9 — Always on the half-turn, always prompting his team forward, he created five chances in the first half alone. If his forwards’ finishing had matched his creativity, United would have won by three or four goals.
FW Jesse Lingard, 6 — A frustrating performance, in that his industry was again not matched by his execution. He had a fine header turned away by Heaton, but also failed to make some simple passes that would have set his team on dangerous attacks.
FW Marcus Rashford, 7 — Always smart and swift in movement, he was a tireless threat against Burnley’s full-backs, and was unlucky to be withdrawn.
FW Zlatan Ibrahimovic, 4 — Looks very short of confidence, with his first half finishing exceptionally tentative, and though his build-up play was much better in the second half he looked slow to get on the end of the ball in the six-yard box and missed a volley from close-range late on.
MF Wayne Rooney, N/R (for Lingard, 73) — Failed to impose himself, his efforts unmatched by his creativity, and he sent a late strike high and wide when he should have put it on target.
MF Marouane Fellaini, N/R (for Mata, 73) — His introduction added some solidity to United’s midfield, but took away some fluidity — a hard balance to strike. Did not provide much threat in attack but helped team to consolidate defensively.
FW Memphis Depay, N/R (for Rashford, 82) — He has hardly featured this year, and it was strange to see him enter the field for someone who was doing so well in attack. Was unable to get on the ball much.
Musa Okwonga is one of ESPN FC’s Manchester United bloggers. Follow on Twitter: @Okwonga.