Paul Pogba sends Manchester United top of Premier League with winner at Burnley

Paul Pogba fired Manchester United to the top of the Premier League with a 1-0 win at Burnley.

The France midfielder’s deflected volley in the 71st minute was enough for a hard-earned victory in a match full of VAR controversy.

United move three points clear of Liverpool ahead of their showdown at Anfield on Sunday.

Not for the first time in the evening, VAR took centre stage in the 32nd minute.

Robbie Brady appeared to have brought down Edinson Cavani as the Manchester United forward – back after a three-match ban – looked to get clear around 25 yards out.

After referee Kevin Friend initially showed the Burnley man a yellow card, the incident was reviewed by VAR.

Friend went over to the pitchside monitor to check a potential earlier foul by Luke Shaw on Johann Gudmundsson before the United breakaway.

Luke Shaw was booked
Luke Shaw was booked

Following several replays, the referee instead awarded Burnley a free-kick, showing United defender Shaw a yellow card and so the possible red card against Brady was ruled out, with his caution rescinded.

United thought they had taken the lead in the 37th minute when Harry Maguire headed in at the back post, but the captain was adjudged to have fouled Burnley defender Erik Pieters as he jumped.

Just before half-time, Burnley keeper Nick Pope produced a fine save from Anthony Martial’s curling shot towards the top corner.

Manchester United’s Edinson Cavani reacts to a near miss
Manchester United’s Edinson Cavani reacts to a near miss

Soon after the restart, Cavani spurned a glorious opportunity to break the deadlock when he scuffed his shot straight at Pope from close range after being picked out by Bruno Fernandes.

United eventually made the breakthrough in the 71st minute.

Marcus Rashford got clear down the right and clipped the ball back across to the edge of the penalty area, where Pogba sent a volley goalwards which deflected off Burnley defender Matthew Lowton and past Pope.

VAR was again in action during the closing stages for a review of a potential handball by Maguire in a crowded six-yard box, but no penalty was given.

Earlier, bottom club Sheffield United finally ended their long wait for a Premier League victory after they beat 10-man Newcastle 1-0 at Bramall Lane.

The Blades, who had won in the FA Cup third round on Saturday, picked up all three points for the first time this season following Billy Sharp’s penalty in the 73rd minute.

The spot-kick was given for handball against Federico Fernandez after referee Andy Madley had checked the pitchside monitor.

Newcastle lacked imagination and their task was made more difficult following the dismissal of winger Ryan Fraser just before half-time for a second caution.

Sheffield United – whose last Premier League win came on July 11 – are up to five points, three behind West Brom, but having played more games than their relegation rivals.

Everton’s Alex Iwobi celebrates scoring against Wolves
Everton’s Alex Iwobi celebrates scoring against Wolves

Everton are fourth after they beat Wolves 2-1 at Molineux.

The Toffees – defeated at home by West Ham and former boss David Moyes in their previous league game – took the lead in the sixth minute when Alex Iwobi converted a cut-back from Lucas Digne.

Wolves, though, equalised in the 14th minute through Ruben Neves’ volley.

With 20 minutes left, Neves went close when he fired a spectacular long-range effort which dipped just over.

It was Everton, though, who regained the lead in the 77th minute when Michael Keane headed in at the back post.