On the face of it, this was a poor result for Manchester United. Draws at home to teams from the wrong end of the Premier League do not generally take big clubs where they want to go.
But at United now mood is everything and the manner in way this point was won will not do Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and his players very much harm at all.
United were poor and did not deserve much. All the big performances came from Burnley. Goalkeeper Tom Heaton – once of United – was magnificent and central defenders Ben Mee and James Tarkowski were not very far behind.
Victor Lindelof threw caution to the wind deep into stoppage time to rescue a point for Manchester United against Burnley
United looked to be staring defeat in the face until Paul Pogba scored from the penalty spot to give them a lifeline in the game
Ashley Barnes sent the away fans into raptures earlier in the contest as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer looked to be facing a first loss
United were stunned with nine minutes to go when Chris Wood rose to head past a helpless David de Gea to make it 2-0
But while he kept emotions in check, Solskjaer rallied his players and masterminded a dramatic comeback in the final stages
Two goals to the good with three minutes of regulation time to go, Sean Dyche’s team should have won and would have had Jeff Hendrick not fouled Jesse Lingard in the penalty area when he really didn’t have to.
It was soft but it was a penalty all the same. And when Paul Pogba swept in the kick, United swarmed all over Burnley like teams of yore.
Such was the ferocious, irresistable nature of the assault that followed, the only surprise was that Solskjaer’s team only scored one more.
By the end of five minutes of added time, Dyche’s players were hanging on like castaways clinging to a rock.
Players shake hands as United supporters show off a touching banner in tribute to those who died in the Munich air disaster
Those in Old Trafford observed a minute’s silence for the Munich disaster and the disappearance of Cardiff’s Emiliano Sala
Marcus Rashford has been in inspired form since Solskjaer took charge and he flew out the blocks, unleashing an early shot
It was backs to the wall for the Lancashire visitors in the early stages as Ben Mee gestures to his team-mates to get in position
Paul Pogba was given very little time to lift his head up and put his stamp on the game as Burnley soon frustrated United
MATCH FACTS, RATINGS, TABLE AND MATCH ZONE
Manchester United (4-4-2): De Gea; Young, Lindelof, Jones, Shaw; Matic, Pereira (Lingard 63), Pogba, Mata; Rashford, Lukaku (Alexis 67)
Subs not used: Romero, Dalot, Smalling, Fred, Herrera
Manager: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
Goals: Pogba (87), Lindelof (90+2)
Burnley (4-4-2): Heaton; Bardsley, Tarkowski, Mee, Taylor; Hendrick, Cork, Westwood, McNeil (Gudmundsson 78); Barnes, Wood
Subs not used: Hart, Ward, Benson, Vydra, Gibson, Vokes
Manager: Sean Dyche
Goals: Barnes (51), Wood (81)
Booked: Barnes, Taylor, Cork
Referee: Jonathan Moss
Season at a glance
- Premier League
- Premier League
- League One
- League Two
- Scottish Premiership
- Scottish Div 1
- Scottish Div 2
- Scottish Div 3
- Ligue 1
- Serie A
- La Liga
Forget for a moment the barren years of Jose Mourinho, Louis van Gaal and David Moyes, this was a finale taken straight from the Sir Alex Ferguson play book.
Where it leaves United is in touching distance of the top four and, crucially, unbeaten under Solskjaer. As such they will head to Leicester on Sunday feeling like the wind is still at their backs.
At times like this, when things are so delicately balanced, it can just take a single goal to determine a mood, a direction of travel. By the season’s end, Victor Lindelof’s equaliser may yet feel like a very big goal indeed.
Certainly it was at odds with the general manner of United’s performance. Speed, tempo and purpose have characterised United’s football under Solskjaer. Here, these qualities were lacking against a Burnley team that was dogged but also ambitious and impressively clinical in front of goal.
Tom Heaton, now first choice ahead of Joe Hart and Nick Pope, made himself big to thwart Romelu Lukaku from close range
Despite flying out of the blocks, United soon found it difficult and were restricted to shots like Luke Shaw’s effort from range
There was plenty for Solskjaer and assistant manager Mike Phelan (left) to discuss as they looked to find a way past Burnley
Juan Mata was given a start in place of Jesse Lingard who carried a knock and he chased down Burnley winger Dwight McNeil
Sean Dyche was an animated figure in his technical area as he barked instructions to his players during an even opening half
In the first half, the best chances were United’s but there weren’t many. Marcus Rashford fluffed a very good opportunity after Romelu Lukaku played him in while Heaton saved brilliantly from Lukaku only for the Belgian to discover he was offside.
At the other end, there had been some moments of hope for Burnley, not least when Phil Jones was forced to clear the ball off Ashley Barnes’ toe in the 17th minute.
United needed to improve but by the time they did they were two down.
Heaton began the second half well with saves from Juan Mata and Pogba before Burnley pounced on a moment of hesitancy in the United half to steal the lead.
Growing into the game, Burnley soon began to show some belief in attacking areas and Chris Wood tried his luck from range
Pogba was less than impressed with the rut United found themselves in as they struggled to make their dominance count
The Frenchman took matters into his own hands before the interval but he was rightly flagged offside after he found the net
But while United had enjoyed the better chances in the first half, the second saw Burnley take the lead through a Barnes strike
United went behind for the first time in Solskjaer’s reign as those inside Old Trafford were struggling to believe what they saw
A ball from Jones to Andreas Pereira put the young midfielder under a little pressure and when Jack Cork stole possession, he fed Barnes on his left and the first time rising shot from the Burnley striker gave David de Gea no chance in the United goal.
With almost 40 minutes still to play, the smart money would still not have been on Burnley. But for subsequent periods it began to feel as though Heaton – with the help of what began to resembled a back five in front of him – may be about to see Dyche’s team home.
Heaton is currently keeping two fine goalkeepers – Joe Hart and Nick Pope –out of the Burnley team and he was fabulous here, both in terms of his athleticism and command of his penalty area.
And when Chris Wood headed in an Ashley Westwood cross before the Stretford End with nine minutes to go, Heaton may just have thought he was about to win at the club where he started his career.
Referee Jonathan Moss soon lost patience with Barnes and showed the Burnley goalscorer a yellow card after his opener
There was plenty for United goalkeeper David de Gea to ponder after he lost yet another clean sheet under Solskjaer’s reign
Frustration was palpable around Old Trafford with Burnley buoyed by Barnes’ goal as Rashford struggled to beat his marker
Lukaku’s last involvement before being withdrawn from the game was a header directed straight at Heaton in Burnley’s goal
Solskjaer continued to try and rally his players from the sidelines as he looked to come from behind on a freezing cold night
The crucial subsequent moment was the concession of the penalty. It was only a hand on Lingard’s shoulder from Hendrick but it was enough.
Pogba’s penalty was struck true and when five minutes of added time were signalled it was not hard to see where this game was heading.
Heaton still had time to contribute two more saves.
The first, from a Pogba curler, looked as though it may have won the game but when he dropped to save an Alexis Sanchez header at the far post in the 92nd minute, even he couldn’t prevent Lindelof smashing the equaliser in from just a yard.
United actually recovered a 2-0 deficit to draw against Burnley at Old Trafford last season, too. That, it transpired, was not a result that led to very much. If Solskjaer is to earn himself the big job for the long term between now and May, it must be different this time.
Things got even worse with nine minutes to go when Burnley forward Wood evaded his marker to head in a second goal
Pogba was seen by many as the man who could bring the needed creativity to a United side crying out for a foothold in the tie
And it was the central midfielder who provided a spark late in the contest as he sent Heaton the wrong way with his penalty
Substitute Sanchez thought he was going to be the matchwinner when he jumped higher than Phil Bardsley for a header
But the Chilean’s effort was saved and Lindelof was the quickest to react as Solskjaer remains unbeaten since taking charge