MANCHESTER, England -- Manchester United booked their place in the quarterfinals of the Carabao Cup with a 2-0 win over Burnley on Wednesday night at Old Trafford in their first game back following the break for the World Cup.
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Christian Eriksen and Marcus Rashford, who both started despite being involved with their countries in Qatar, got the goals as coach Erik ten Hag's team cruised past Vincent Kompany's side and into the next round. Bruno Fernandes and Casemiro were also in the team just days after returning from the Middle East as United's domestic campaign resumed with a comfortable victory.
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1. Man United avoid slipup as World Cup stars deliver upon return
United were expected to beat Burnley on Wednesday, but it was a more complicated tie than it looked.
Burnley are atop of the Championship and returned from their World Cup break on Dec. 11 -- just a day after the quarterfinals in Qatar. Kompany might have expected his team to benefit from some extra match sharpness, but despite some good moments, it wasn't enough to bridge the gap in quality.
United haven't won a trophy since 2017 and Ten Hag is clearly keen to win something in his first season at Old Trafford, picking Fernandes, Casemiro and Rashford from the start despite all three reaching the World Cup quarterfinals. Fernandes and Rashford were knocked out with Portugal and England, respectively, just 11 days ago.
Ten Hag's decision to pick a strong team -- supplemented with non-World Cup players like Victor Lindelof, Anthony Martial and Scott McTominay -- paid off and United are into the Carabao Cup quarterfinals.
Fernandes, in particular, continued his good form from Qatar with a clipped pass to Aaron Wan-Bissaka at the back post in the build up to Eriksen's goal. It would have been tempting for Ten Hag to pick Donny van de Beek, who wasn't part of the Netherlands squad, but Fernandes proved it was the right call to bring him back early.
2. Onus on Rashford to continue goal-scoring form
Although Rashford is probably right to wonder why he was only given five minutes as England went out to France, he had a positive World Cup, scoring three goals.
Straight back into the United team, he got another here after picking up the ball in his own half before beating Jordan Beyer and shooting low past Bailey Peacock-Farrell and into the far corner. It was the type of goal that showcased the best of Rashford -- pace, technique and finishing ability -- and Ten Hag will need him to keep doing it in the second half of the season.
Cristiano Ronaldo has gone and Jadon Sancho remains on indefinite leave, which could leave United short of goals as they chase a trophy and a place in the top four. Enquiries are being made about signing another striker in January, but there is no guarantee it will happen, and if no one arrives, the responsibility in front of goal will fall on Rashford and Martial.
Rashford has nine goals this season, almost double his tally from last term, but Ten Hag needs the 25-year-old to replicate the numbers he achieved between 2019 and 2021, when he scored 43 goals across two campaigns.
3. Burnley's priority remains Premier League promotion
Burnley won 2-0 at Old Trafford in the Premier League three years ago, but Kompany won't be too disappointed to have gone out of the Carabao Cup. Before kickoff, the former Manchester City defender said he wanted to "measure ourselves against some of the best," but in reality his job this season is to get Burnley out of the Championship and back in the top flight.
He's done a good job since taking over at Turf Moor in the summer, and Burnley sit three points clear at the top having lost just twice all season. A cup run is always welcome for a team like Burnley and their fans -- they brought 7,000 to Old Trafford -- but their biggest game this week is against Birmingham City on Tuesday, even if it's not quite as glamorous.
Kompany might have felt there was a chance his in-form team could have caused a shock against a rusty United following the World Cup break, but he won't be too concerned that Burnley aren't in the hat for the next round. It's far more important that they're back at Old Trafford playing league games next season. Promotion is the priority.
Player ratings (1 = worst, 10 = best)
Man United: Martin Dubravka 6, Aaron Wan-Bissaka 7, Tyrell Malacia 6, Victor Lindelof 6, Casemiro 7, Scott McTominay 6, Christian Eriksen 7, Bruno Fernandes 7, Marcus Rashford 7, Alejandro Garnacho 6, Anthony Martial 7
Subs: Antony 6, Anthony Elanga 6, Luke Shaw 6, Fred 6, Brandon Williams 6
Burnley: Bailey Peacock-Farrell 6, Connor Roberts 5, Taylor Harwood-Bellis 6, Jordan Beyer 5, Ian Maatsen 6, Josh Cullen 5, Jack Cork 6, Josh Brownhill 5, Johann Gudmundsson 6, Manuel Benson 5, Ashley Barnes 5
Subs: Darko Churlinov 5, Scott Twine 6, Charlie Taylor 6, CJ Egan-Riley 6, Samuel Bastien 6
Best and worst performers
BEST: Christian Eriksen, Manchester United. Quietly efficient in midfield and got forward to score the first goal.
WORST: Ashley Barnes, Burnley. Missed a golden chance to get back into the game with 10 minutes to go.
Highlights and notable moments
Coast. To. Coast. Rashford's World Cup form has not left him now that he's back on English soil.
THIS SOLO GOAL FROM MARCUS RASHFORD 😲 pic.twitter.com/1cotFeJUPR— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) December 21, 2022
After the match: What the players and managers said
Ten Hag on Rashford: "I think [Rashford] was a constant threat, playing on the back line, on the back four. He's so dangerous with his dribbles, with his pace, with his movement without the ball, passing the ball. He runs so much, with so much intensity."
Ten Hag on the return of United's remaining World Cup stars: "We have not planned for that. I think the Argentina celebrations are still going, so we will see."
Key stats (provided by ESPN Stats & Information)
- Eriksen has scored in consecutive games for Manchester United after registering no goals in his first 19 games for the club. The Denmark international hadn't scored in consecutive club games across all competitions since Dec. 23 and 26, 2018, in Premier League play for Tottenham Hotspur.
- Wan-Bissaka hadn't tallied a goal contribution since May 13, 2021, when he assisted on a Fernandes goal against Liverpool in the Premier League.
- Rashford has scored in four straight games at Old Trafford. England's goal-scoring leader at Qatar 2022 hadn't scored in four straight home games for his club since between December 2019 and January 2020.
Man United: The Premier League returns to Old Trafford on Tuesday, when United play host to Jesse Lingard and Nottingham Forest.
Burnley: Burnley's Carabao Cup run comes to an end, but they return to Championship action on Tuesday, when they welcome Birmingham City to Turf Moor.