Manchester United’s Champions League qualification hopes suffered a blow with a 2-0 upset at home to Burnley in the Premier League on Wednesday, as the Old Trafford fans vented their anger at the club’s U.S. owners.
Goals from Chris Wood and Jay Rodriguez ensured victory for Sean Dyche’s Burnley on a night when United looked nothing like a ‘big six’ team.
United fans chanted protest songs aimed at the Glazer family, who have owned the club since 2005, while their team fell to a second straight loss.
After Sunday’s defeat by leaders Liverpool amid criticism of the club for failing to secure any new additions so far in the January transfer window, there is an air of crisis around United.
The club’s decline since the departure of manager Alex Ferguson after their last Premier League title in 2013 shows no signs of being reversed and the fans clearly put the blame on the Glazers and their chief executive Ed Woodward more than manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
Yet the Norwegian accepted that he was “responsible” for what happens on the field and admitted it was not up to expectations.
“Tonight wasn’t good enough for a Manchester United team. We have got to hold our hands up and say it wasn’t good enough,” said Solskjaer, who is without key players Paul Pogba and Marcus Rashford through injury but hopes for some new faces.
“We are working to improve and get players in and hopefully we can get something over the line — I think everyone can see these players are being stretched, they are stretched,” he said.
Thousands of fans flooded out of Old Trafford well before the end of the game while the hardcore supporters in the Stretford End chose to stay and continue to make their feelings known.
“(In the) 84th minute I saw people get up and go. That is unheard of at this stadium. Seeing people leave with disdain on their face. It is an embarrassment. The downward spiral in seven years has been remarkable,” former United defender Rio Ferdinand said in his role as a match pundit for BT Sport.
The defeat leaves United fifth in the standings, six points adrift of Chelsea who currently occupy the fourth Champions League qualification spot.
Wood fired Burnley ahead in the 39th minute with a half-volley on the turn after a simple free kick routine in which Ben Mee headed the ball down into the path of the New Zealand international.
The Clarets, who move up to 13th place, doubled their lead, seven minutes after the break, through striker Rodriguez who blasted into the top corner after a smart exchange with Wood.
United had a last-minute header from Luke Shaw ruled out for pushing but created few clear cut chances as Burnley held on for their first victory at Old Trafford since 1962.
“It’s mad that. It’s a great feeling. The lads have come in the dressing room buzzing,” said Burnley-born Rodriguez.
“These are the moments you work hard for. We stopped them playing. We showed our qualities to keep the ball and hurt them.
“That two-goal cushion was good for the team. This result means everything,” he added.
The Clarets, deserved winners, had drifted towards the relegation zone after four straight losses but Wednesday’s victory, following Sunday’s win over third-place Leicester City has steadied the ship.
TOTTENHAM EDGE PAST NORWICH
Tottenham Hotspur returned to winning ways in the Premier League but hardly issued a statement of intent as they laboured to a 2-1 victory over bottom club Norwich City on Wednesday.
Jose Mourinho’s side had not won in four league games and had failed to find the net in their last three and it needed a late Son Heung-min header to earn three points.
Norwich made it an uncomfortable night for Tottenham and when Teemu Pukki levelled from the penalty spot in the 70th minute to cancel out Dele Alli’s opener and looked capable of earning a vital win in their survival quest.
But Son, once again Tottenham’s Plan B in the absence of injured striker Harry Kane, rescued his side as he touched in Alli’s cross from close range in the 79th minute.
It was a positive night for Tottenham who moved up to sixth in the table with 34 points from 24 games, six behind fourth-placed Chelsea.
They also welcomed back number one goalkeeper Hugo Lloris after the Frenchman’s long absence since sustaining a serious elbow injury during a defeat by Brighton & Hove Albion in October.
On the downside, England midfielder Harry Winks hobbled off with an injury.
“It is a very important victory for us against a difficult opponent,” Mourinho said. “We suffered in the second half and we only have ourselves to blame.
“We are in a situation when I have to think, think, think. I look to bench and we don’t have attacking players. I had to take off Erik Lamela because of fatigue but we showed an incredible reaction to score a second goal.”
Norwich, without injured creative force Emiliano Buendia, once again showed some enterprising attacking football but Daniel Farke’s side remain six points adrift of the safety zone.
“The lads left their hearts out on the pitch,” Farke said. “It’s disappointing to drive away with a loss. We have a special group of players. It was a fantastic away performance even though it was a defeat.”
Tottenham dominated early on with Erik Lamela’s volley producing a fine save by Tim Krul but Norwich grew into the game and both Pukki and Todd Cantwell spurned good chances.
Highly-rated youngster Cantwell showed his inexperience though in the 37th minute though when he got caught on the ball on the edge of his area and Son played in Serge Aurier whose low cross was met by Alli for his seventh goal of the season.
It was Tottenham’s first league goal of 2020 after 398 minutes and 48 shots without success.
Tottenham lived dangerously after the break and Norwich sensed their unease with Pukki again squandering a chance.
Cantwell was a touch lucky to escape a red card for a high tackle on Giovani Lo Celso, reviewed by VAR, and shortly afterwards Norwich were level.
Max Aarons was sent tumbling to the turf by Ryan Sessegnon, referee Chris Kavanagh pointed to the spot, and after a lengthy VAR check, Finnish striker Pukki beat Lloris despite the keeper guessing right and getting a strong hand on the ball.
Norwich were buzzing and their fans were in full voice until Alli’s cross took a wicked deflection and looped up perfectly for Son to score one of the simplest goals of his career.
MOURINHO REGRETS DROPPING GAZZANIGA FOR LLORIS
Tottenham Hotspur manager Jose Mourinho admitted it hurt to leave out keeper Paulo Gazzaniga for returning Hugo Lloris for Wednesday’s Premier League win against Norwich City.
France World Cup winner Lloris has been out since dislocating his elbow during a defeat by Brighton and Hove Albion in early October with stand-in Gazzaniga proving a capable deputy in the intervening period.
Argentine Gazzaniga even saved a penalty during Saturday’s 0-0 draw at Watford, yet found himself back on the bench three days later as Lloris was given the nod.
The Frenchman, playing for the first time under Mourinho, was reasonably assured although he could have done better with Teemu Pukki’s penalty in the 70th minute, diving the right way but failing to keep the ball out of the net.
“Mixed emotions for me. Great to see one of the world’s best back but it was a decision which hurt to leave Paulo out,” Mourinho told reporters after the 2-1 victory that lifted his side up to sixth in the table.
“The good thing is that (Paulo’s) such a good member of the family and a special friend of Hugo that he shared our happiness to have Hugo back.
“He gave me a lot to think about and I had to be cold without emotions.”
While the return of Lloris was welcomed, Mourinho was dealt another blow with midfielder Harry Winks limping off after damaging his ankle in a challenge with Todd Cantwell.
“It is not a crazy one, weeks not months,” the Portuguese said.
LEICESTER BEAT WEST HAM 4-1
Leicester City shrugged off a recent slump in form to strengthen their grip on third place in the Premier League with Ayoze Perez’s late double capping a 4-1 home win over lowly West Ham United on Wednesday.
Victory came at a cost though as Premier League leading scorer Jamie Vardy hobbled off shortly before halftime.
Back-to-back defeats by Southampton and Burnley had cast some doubt over Leicester’s top-four credentials but goals by Harvey Barnes and Ricardo Pereira had Brendan Rodgers’ side in control by halftime.
Skipper Mark Noble gave West Ham a lifeline in the 50th minute when he converted a penalty but Perez’s late double, his first from the penalty spot, underlined Leicester’s superiority.
Leicester have 48 points from 24 games, eight ahead of fourth-placed Chelsea, while West Ham, who have 23 points, are only outside the relegation zone by virtue of goal difference.
Leicester have also scored 52 goals, their highest top-flight tally after 24 games since 1930-31.
“I thought we played with that authority in the game and personality that the team has played with all season. Tempo was good, pressed well,” Rodgers said.
Defeat by Leicester on Dec. 28 did for former West Ham manager Manuel Pellegrini, paving the way for the return of David Moyes for a second stint as Hammers manager.
But he faces a tough task keeping them out of the relegation zone after winning only one of his first four games in charge.
“I knew January was going to be really, really tough. The Premier League at different times has brought shocks, we just have to make sure we bring one of those shocks in the games coming up,” he said.
Leicester toyed with West Ham in the opening stages and the only surprise was it took them 24 minutes to score, Barnes applying the finishing touch to Ricardo’s pass across goal.
When Vardy clutched the back of his leg and soon afterwards hobbled off, it dampened the mood but the home fans were buoyant when Barnes teed up Ricardo to double the lead.
West Ham had been non-existent as an attacking threat in the first half but were handed an unlikely lifeline when Wilfred Ndidi was adjudged to have fouled Sebastien Haller and Noble converted from the penalty spot.
From a position of comfort Leicester suddenly looked edgy and Manuel Lanzini almost equalised.
But Leicester settled back into their rhythm and could breathe easy when Perez tucked away a penalty in the 81st minute after Angelo Ogbonna’s clumsy tackle on Vardy’s replacement Kelechi Iheanacho.
Perez made absolutely sure of the points in the 88th minute when he found the corner after an intricate passing move.
While there is no chance of another title charge, as in 2015-16, barring an unlikely collapse in form Leicester look poised to return to the Champions League as they are 14 points ahead of fifth-placed Manchester United.
VARDY INJURY NOT SERIOUS: RODGERS
Vardy does finally go off… big blow for Leicester
Vardy tried to run it off, which was bizarre given the nature of these injuries.
But he has now gone off as Iheanacho comes on. pic.twitter.com/aTpTD9EMlZ
— Lilian Chan (@bestgug) January 22, 2020
The injury curse afflicting the Premier League’s top English strikers struck again as Leicester City’s Jamie Vardy hobbled off before halftime in his side’s 4-1 defeat of West Ham United on Wednesday.
With Tottenham Hotspur’s Harry Kane (hamstring tendon) and Marcus Rashford (back stress fracture) out for lengthy periods, there has been talk of England manager Gareth Southgate trying to persuade the Premier League’s leading scorer to rethink his decision to turn his back on international football.
Vardy, who has scored 17 goals to fire Leicester into third place in the league this season, looks like joining them on the treatment table though, leaving Southgate potentially short of options as the European Championship looms.
He pulled up sharply shortly before halftime on Wednesday and despite trying to continue, eventually left the field.
While the extent of the injury was unclear, Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers offered some positive news, saying it was not a hamstring problem.
“It is not his hamstring which is good. Hopefully over the next couple of days it will ease off and he will be fit,” he said. “Jamie is a real talisman for the team but if we are going to have success it is about the team.
“He hasn’t played for us in a number of games and the team has still played well but of course we want him fit and well. He is such a good player and we hope it is not too serious.
“He felt a sensation in it, and it sort of spasmed really in that period. We’ll have a look at that tomorrow, but it didn’t look too serious.”
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