By Jason Lewis – (@_JasonLewis)
Heroics from Artur Boruc secured a memorable point for 10-man AFC Bournemouth in a feisty encounter with Manchester United at Old Trafford.
Jose Mourinho’s side took the lead through an unlikely source in Marcus Rojo, but former Red Devil Josh King leveled the score from the penalty spot before half-time.
Before the interval, Bournemouth captain Andrew Surman saw red for pushing Zlatan Ibrahimovic following a series of altercations between the Swede and Cherries centre-back Tyrone Mings.
United’s man advantage appeared to have paid off when referee Kevin Friend awarded them a penalty of their own midway through the second half. However, Boruc saved Ibrahimovic’s spotkick and the Cherries held on for a valuable 1-1 draw despite waves of pressure late in the game.
The Cherries’ preparations for the game appeared to be disrupted with the news that Eddie Howe would not be taking charge of his side due to illness, although he was in-fact on the touchline at Old Trafford. He made one change to the team that lost at West Brom, with Benik Afobe coming in and Jack Wilshere dropping to the bench.
Manchester United made four changes from the side that started the League Cup final victory over Southampton, with Phil Jones, Luke Shaw, Michael Carrick and Wayne Rooney coming in for Eric Bailly, Chris Smalling, Ander Herrera and Jesse Lingard.
A jubilant United off the back of their cup success commanded the game early on and should have scored a couple of goals before Benik Afobe wasted a golden chance for the visitors. The striker shrugged off Rojo, but lost his footing as he raced through one-on-one with David de Gea and the opportunity was soon gone.
United broke the deadlock not long after in the 23rd minute as Rojo, who remained in the box following a United corner, diverted Antonio Valencia’s cross-come-shot past the hapless Boruc. The Cherries were on the ropes after the goal and had the Polish keeper to thank for keeping the deficit to one.
A rare phase of retained possession led to Bournemouth’s route back into the game. After neat play down the right wing, the ball was centred and then slipped through to Marc Pugh. Bournemouth’s longest serving player employed one of his most trusted tricks cutting the ball back from his left side onto his right. By this point Jones had already committed himself to the slide challenge and he sent Pugh tumbling to the ground.
Josh King stepped up and following a short delay despatched the penalty into the top corner above the diving David de Gea. The former Manchester United forward now has six goals in nine games for the Cherries.
With just five minutes to go until the interval it looked like things would be all level at the break, although there was more action before the players returned to the dressing rooms. Following a coming together of bodies, Mings’ foot appeared to stamp on Ibrahimovic’s head. No action was taken. Moments later following a corner, a mass brawl erupted with Bournemouth players claiming Ibrahimovic had returned the favour by striking Mings in the head with his elbow.
Bournemouth skipper Surman, who was on a dubious yellow card, overreacted and shoved the Manchester United striker to the floor. A certain bookable offence, although after showing him a yellow card, it took referee Kevin Friend several minutes, and long protestations from Rooney, before Surman was shown a red card. Ibrahimovic escaped punishment for his involvement, however both he and Mings have been charged with violent conduct by the FA.
As this was all going on the first half reached added time and despite another onslaught from the home side, the Cherries clawed their way to half-time at 1-1. Even the interval was not without incident as Bournemouth assistant Jason Tindall marched straight across to the referee to voice his complaints about the first half. Tindall was subsequently sent off and watched the second half from the stands.
Howe made a tactical switch at the break, bringing on the mobile Dan Gosling for Pugh and shifting goalscorer King to operate on the left flank. The 10 men of Bournemouth looked to sit back, soak up the pressure and frustrate the home side. Through tireless running and efficient organisation the Cherries restricted Mourinho’s side to shots from range and hopeful crosses. Whenever Boruc was called upon he was a match for whatever United threw at him, including a stinging drive by Paul Pogba.
The frustration was telling when Mourinho made a triple substitution on 70 minutes, bringing on Lingard, Marcus Rashford and Marouane Fellaini. The switch had an instant impact.
Despite the incredible effort put in by Bournemouth, it looked to all be in vain when Friend awarded a penalty for United after the ball struck Adam Smith in the arm, with the defender just yards away from Pogba, who was attempting to cross it back into the middle.
Ibrahimovic stepped up to take the kick in front of the Stretford End, however he could not follow King’s lead. He drove the ball to Boruc’s right, but the 37-year-old, who retired from international football last week, flung himself towards the ball and pushed it away from the bottom corner.
Further pressure followed for the final 20 minutes of the game, but Howe’s men did not look like letting up. Mings injured his knee just shy of 80 minutes, which resulted in a Premier League debut for home-grown talent Baily Cargill. The 21-year-old did not feel the pressure and alongside the diving, jumping and sliding Steve Cook, he helped guide the Cherries through the remainder of the game, including the five minutes of stoppage time.
Bournemouth may still be without a win in 2017, but the scenes at the end of the game showed just how much this meant to the players, the coaches and the several thousand fans that had made the long and early trip up to Old Trafford.
With back-to-back home games to come against West Ham and a crunch meeting against Swansea, Howe will be hoping to see a similar commitment and endeavour in these performance at the Vitality Stadium as the Cherries look to pull themselves away from the bottom three.
Manchester United XI: de Gea; A Valencia, Jones, Rojo, Shaw (Rashford 70’); Carrick (Fellaini 70’), Pogba; Mata, Rooney (Lingard 70’), Martial; Ibrahimovic.
Bournemouth XI: Boruc; Smith, Cook, Mings (Cargill 78’), Daniels; Surman, Arter; Fraser, King (Gradel 88’), Pugh (Gosling 45’); Afobe.