Millennium Post

Smalling’s rare brace lifts Man Utd back to 3rd spot

Smalling’s rare brace lifts Man Utd back to 3rd spot
Manchester Utd defender Chris Smalling scored a rare brace to give his side a 3-1 victory over Burnley that lifted back into third place in the Premier League on Wednesday. With United owners Avi and Joel Glazer making one of their infrequent appearances at Old Trafford, struggling Burnley briefly threatened to spoil the party when Danny Ings equalised the first of Smalling’s headed efforts.

But Smalling netted again before Robin van Persie’s late penalty kept United on course for a place in next season’s Champions League. Smalling made the most extraordinary impact on the game, a mere 22 seconds after coming onto the field as a fifth minute replacement for Phil Jones, who had injured himself making an early interception.

United manager Louis van Gaal threw on the substitute after Patrick McNair had won a corner with a 22-yard shot that goalkeeper Tom Heaton parried at the expense of a corner. From Wayne Rooney’s resulting set-piece, van Persie flicked on at the near post, Radamel Falcao headed back into the six-yard area from the far and Smalling made it three United headers in quick succession as he nodded home from close range for only his second goal of the season. But United held lead for just six minutes before Ings equalised.

George Boyd played full-back Kieran Trippier away down the right and his superb cross into the six-yard area found Ings, who had lost his marker Smalling, and his magnificent diving header gave David de Gea no chance. In the second half, Adnan Januzaj made a strong run and shot which Heaton was required to save at full stretch although it was a half that produced far fewer chances than the first.

Moments after a poor miss by Kightly, an errant pass by Scott Arfield allowed di Maria to break into the area where the same Burnley man fouled him. Van Persie’s resulting 82nd minute penalty killed off hopes of a late Burnley rally.
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