Manchester United 2, Burnley 2

Steven Defour was once the recipient of a letter of sympathy from former Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson.

Tuesday, 26th December 2017, 5:49 pm
Updated Tuesday, 26th December 2017, 5:55 pm
Steven Defour celebrates his stunning free kick

The Belgian international was being heavily tracked by the Red Devils before shattering a metatarsal in his right foot ahead of his Champions League debut for Standard Liege.

It was a nice touch from the most decorated manager though of small consolation to the midfielder at the time as his career hung in the balance.

However, Defour is back at his best and his next letter might be one of 'congratulations' after the 75-year-old Scot, who won 13 top flight titles with United, was in the wings at Old Trafford to witness the midfielder's outstanding strike.

Defour's 35th minute free kick, which put the Clarets 2-0 up at the Theatre of Dreams, carried shades of David Beckham in his pomp as he swung the ball over the wall and in to the top corner, just out of the reach of David De Gea.

His third goal for the club, only his second in the league, put the visitors in to an unbelievable position after Ashley Barnes had opened the scoring in the third minute.

The striker put his laces through the ball from close range once Johann Berg Gudmundsson's set-piece dropped for him.

Scott Arfield could've made that start even better for the Clarets when taking a step away from his markers to flick Gudmundsson's delivery towards goal but his effort clipped the crossbar.

United were startled but, as expected, the reaction from Jose Mourinho's side was almost immediate as they peppered Burnley's penalty area.

Ben Mee stuck out a boot to prevent Juan Mata from equalising before Nick Pope showed a strong hand to beat away Luke Shaw's attempt from distance.

The Clarets stopper was forced to scramble to his post to push Paul Pogba's header clear after the Frenchman's effort took an awkward nick while Mee was in the right place at the right time to clear Marcus Rashford's drive off the line.

Pogba went within a whisker of drawing the scores level again when creating a yard of space from Defour to bend the ball goalwards but his strike brushed the post.

Mourinho was forced in to a double change at the interval and it was one of those substitutions, Jesse Lingard, that made the difference.

The 25-year-old should've scored with his first touch when Ashley Young fired the ball across goal but Pope somehow managed to save from point blank range to turn the winger's shot on to the bar.

Lingard, who had loan spells with Leicester, Birmingham, Brighton and Derby, did make amends in the 53rd minute, though, with a delicate flick from Young's delivery that nestled in the corner.

Pogba attempted to emulate Defour's earlier strike when whipping a set piece at goal from 25 yards out but the ball cleared the crossbar.

Five minutes of time added on were indicated by fourth official Lee Mason and it seemed as though the Clarets would soak up the pressure to register a first win at Old Trafford since 1962.

But, in the 92nd minute, with Mata's free kick causing a pinball effect in the box, Lingard swung his boot at the ball and his effort found the back of the net to inflict a cruel blow to Burnley on Boxing Day.