Manchester United brought a timely end to their poor run as Romelu Lukaku’s brace at Burnley helped alleviate the pressure on Jose Mourinho and kick-start their campaign.
Old Trafford has found itself in the eye of a storm after a shock defeat at Brighton was compounded by the heaviest home defeat of the Portuguese’s managerial career against Tottenham on Monday.
But there was no sign of a hangover on Sunday as United rallied impressively, with Lukaku netting twice in the first half to set Mourinho’s men on course for a deserved 2-0 win at Burnley.
Joe Hart saved Paul Pogba’s penalty to prevent matters getting worse for Sean Dyche’s men on an afternoon when substitute Marcus Rashford’s red card was the only real negative for the visitors.
Neither event could take the edge off a positive afternoon for United at Turf Moor, where travelling fans chanted Mourinho’s name from the outset and celebrated a much-needed win before the international break.
The fan-funded plane that flew overhead calling executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward “a specialist in failure” was a nod to the fact all is not well at United, but this was a much-needed show of strength and unity on the field.
Burnley, looking lethargic after Thursday’s Europa League exit to Olympiakos, were second best in a first half that was 27 minutes old when Lukaku headed home a clipped Alexis Sanchez cross.
The Belgium international fired home from close range just before the break, with Hart preventing United from extending their lead by denying Pogba from the spot.
Rashford’s sending-off for reacting to Phil Bardsley’s kick out by pushing his head into that of the Burnley defender led to an open ending, but United held firm to secure the three points.
Mourinho’s men started brightly and Jesse Lingard had three chances inside the opening 10 minutes, while Hart was called into action to keep out a low Luke Shaw drive.
United soon tapered off but they were remaining resolute at the back and patient in possession, with intelligent play bringing a 27th-minute opener.
United looked to press home their advantage on the counter and would have doubled their advantage had Hart not spread himself well to prevent Lukaku turning home a Sanchez through-ball.
But the 25-year-old would find the net again before the break.
Shaw burst through and squared for Lukaku, who played back to Lingard to get away a shot that took two deflections. The ball fell kindly and the striker buried the loose ball from close range.
Bardsley denied Sanchez at the other end and Shaw stung the palms of Hart, who prevented the visitors going three ahead in the 69th minute.
Aaron Lennon brought down substitute Rashford in the box and Pogba stepped up for the resulting spot-kick, only for Hart to save low to his right after a delayed run-up.
The stop took the noise up several notches inside Turf Moor, as did Rashford’s red card.
The red card brought a frantic conclusion, with Sam Vokes going close before Lukaku wasted a glorious chance after rounding Hart only to fail under Ben Mee’s pressure.
Vokes was denied by David De Gea and Matej Vydra missed the target as Burnley continued to push for the goal that would not materialise.
Mourinho went to thank the raucous travelling fans at full-time as they chanted his name.