When Jesse Lingard's time-off equalizer crossed the line for everyone, but ensured that Manchester United would avoid their second loss at Old Trafford in 43 games, he was a winner like all players in a red shirt. A few minutes later, when the final whistle blew, the reality came when the players themselves realized that a hard-earned point at home for Burnley was not, by the standards of this club, enough.
It could easily be much worse, of course. Sean Dyche's brilliant visitors led from the second minute here after Ashley Barnes packed his first home game before Steven Defour doubled the lead with a fabulous free-kick. At halftime, given Burnley's gift of protecting an advantage, a famous three points for the East Lancashire club seemed on the cards. However, a double by substitute Lingard in the second half saw United rescue a point.
And yet, they needed three, especially after drawing in Leicester City three days before. The seemingly unstoppable Manchester City can go 15 points above its nearest neighbors and rivals at the top of the Premier League table on Wednesday night and with each passing week, what the other half does is less and less relevant in Old Trafford.
Burnley's first goal came from a set-piece and, as for City's two goals in the derby earlier this month, Romelu Lukaku was at fault. The Belgian first dived under Johan Berg Gudmundsson's free-kick and then could not clear his lines in the later goalmouth fight. Ashley Barnes was one of several players who struggled to control the ball, but when it bounced on its path for the second time, it made no mistake to hit cleanly from within the six-yard area.
A perfect start to Barnes' afternoon, but he could have reached an abrupt end minutes later, when, with the blood still running through his head, the scorer went through Paul Pogba with a powerful and late challenge. However, referee Martin Atkinson felt he was only worthy of a yellow card, and Burnley could go into the business of protecting his advantage with a full complement of players behind the ball.
Old Trafford expected an attack to follow, but they were made to wait for one, as David De Gea was called into action for the second time before Burnley goalkeeper Nick Pope could be evaluated. After a fluid movement of the visitors through the midfield, Scott Arfield tried to turn another Gudmundsson cross with a skillful chip. De Gea, retreating, denied it with the tips of his fingers.
Burnley celebrates after Ashley Barnes opens the scoring against Manchester United (Getty)
At the other end of the field, Lukaku and Zlatan Ibrahimovic were starting together for the first time and counting. The couple did the same races in the same channels, with their difficulties encapsulating a team that lacks pace. When United's first major effort arrived, he seemed to be counting on left-back Luke Shaw, who hit his arm with a shot from outside the box. Pope made it clear.
Even so, United was just a team that looked like a scorer. After those first forays forward, Dyche's side had settled in, gone to bed and was ready to fight. No one expected a second for the visitors, which made the Defour attack even more impressive.
Steven Defour celebrates after scoring a free-kick to put Burnley 2-0 up (Getty)
About 30 meters from the goal, he threw a perfect one-inch free kick over the wall and into the upper left corner of De Gea's goal. It was the first time the United goalkeeper had conceded from outside the box throughout the season and a strike that showed why the Belgian midfielder, a silk and steel player, was courted once by Sir Alex Ferguson.
If there was a positive result for United, the second of Burnley provoked a better response than the first of Mourinho's players. His two-goal lead would only have lasted a few minutes if Ben Mee had not shown the defensive awareness that characterizes this side by positioning himself behind Pope and on the line to brilliantly block a Marcus Rashford effort with a specific goal.
Jesse Lingard sees a shot at close range hitting the crossbar (Getty)
Mourinho had to change something. The Ibrahimovic-Lukaku experiment was abandoned, with the first one sacrificed, and Jesse Lingard was presented as one of the two changes.
The graduate of the academy in shape but very cursed almost had an immediate impact, but once again, as in the derby, an opposition goalkeeper denied the Stretford End a goal with his face. Pope knew very little about Lingard's attack point-blank, as he hit him in the mouth and was relieved to see him deviating from him to the top of the crossbar.
Lingard retrieves Manchester United's first goal in (Getty)
Soon after, he was not as lucky as Lingard found the answer United needed. Showing the kind of invention that his teammates had lacked in the first half, the substitute on the back of Ashley Young crossed his marker Kevin Long. His touch had just enough to form an arch around a Pope who stretches and curls up in the far corner of the net.
Before playing again, Old Trafford was noisier than it had been all season, with the four corners willing to come together to produce a comeback, but their newly discovered momentum could not hold. The party became the mean and capricious subject in which Burnley seems to thrive. Even when visitors slowed their tackles, conceding free throws in a dangerous area on the edge of their area, their hosts did not capitalize.
Lingard shoots in United's draw to split the points (Getty)
As the minutes passed, it became clear that Dyche's side was simply not going to miss any clear opportunities. If an equalizer were found, it would be an ugly one. Sure enough, Lingard's second in the first minute of injury time was a scraped blow through a mass of bodies after a brief pinball game in Burnley's penalty area. The jubilant United players did not care and celebrate wildly, but at the end of the game, their shoulders slumped.