WHEN the dust settles on Burnley’s Boxing Day battle with Manchester United the Clarets will reflect on another memorable point at Old Trafford.

But in the immediate aftermath of a dramatic and pulsating 2-2 draw you couldn’t help but think of the what ifs?

Burnley were minutes away from a famous win at Old Trafford. Forget whatever you received in your stockings on Christmas morning, this was going to be 2017’s present to remember. A gift from Sean Dyche and his magnificent merry men.

But United hit back, scoring at the start of the second half and then agonisingly, cruelly, at the end of the second half. The Old Trafford roar that accompanied Jesse Lingard’s point-saving strike spoke volumes of the fight United had been in all afternoon. This was no Boxing Day stroll through the local park for Jose Mourinho’s men, they had to sweat the turkey and the trimmings off just to salvage a result.

The Clarets had the belligerence of Ashley Barnes and the beauty of Steven Defour to thank for their dream first half advantage, going into the break two goals clear.

As Johann Berg Gudmundsson’s early free-kick rattled around United’s six-yard box Barnes made sure the ball was his before firing home. That advantage was doubled when Defour curled a free-kick into the same Stretford End goal.

It was a moment of magic to savour for Defour, who was regularly linked with a move to Old Trafford when impressing for Standard Liege in his teenage years, with Sir Alex Ferguson even writing to the Belgium midfielder when he suffered a broken foot. The move never materialised but a decade on Defour is finally thriving in the Premier League.

It was the start dreams are made of for the Clarets. Within 60 seconds Jeff Hendrick had been pulled down by Marcos Rojo on the right-hand edge of the area and Gudmundsson’s free-kick fell to Barnes who lashed home

They came close to adding a second within the first 15 minutes, Scott Arfield flicking Gudmundsson’s cross on to the top of the crossbar.

Nick Pope’s first action of the afternoon saw him push Luke Shaw’s 20-yard drive clear as the hosts finally began to shake off their festive lethargy, with the Clarets ‘keeper in the action moments later, clawing away Pogba’s goalbound header.

Having soaked up the pressure Burnley struck again when Arfield was tripped by Ashley Young 25 yards from goal. It would normally have been prime Robbie Brady territory but in his absence Defour stepped up and delivered a curling right-footed strike so precise it would have knocked the angel off the top of a Christmas tree.

United thought they were back in it immediately, only for Ben Mee to clear off the line when Marcus Rashford’s shot beat Pope.

Jose Mourinho wasted no time in making changes to his side, introducing Jesse Lingard and Henrikh Mkhitaryan at half-time for Rojo and Ibrajimovic and it was Lingard who made an immediate impact.

He was denied straight after the break thanks to a brilliant Pope save, making himself big to deflect Lingard’s shot from four yards onto the bar, but the replacement didn’t have to wait long to get on the scoresheet, showing a level of ingenuity his teammates had lacked in the first half as he back heeled Young’s low cross into the corner of the net.

That goal sparked a siege from United but the Clarets refused to buckle, restricting the opportunities to long range strikes, in the case of a Pogba free-kick that flew a yard over, or efforts under pressure such as a Romelu Lukaku header that failed to hit the target.

But with a first Old Trafford win since 1962 within touching distance the Clarets’ Christmas wish was snatched away. A free-kick rattled around the area before bouncing off Mee’s shins and falling to Lingard, who found the bottom corner.