AFC Bournemouth’s relegation woes continued as they fell afoul of a rampant Manchester United in an exciting game which saw seven goals, VAR checks, penalties and near misses.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer named an unchanged Manchester United starting XI following their comprehensive 3-0 victory over Brighton and Hove Albion on Tuesday night, as the Red Devils looked to extend their impressive post ‘Project Restart’ form.
A minor hamstring injury for AFC Bournemouth centre-half Steve Cook forced Cherries’ boss Eddie Howe into a back four reshuffle, seeing left-back Lloyd Kelly move across into central defence to partner Nathan Ake, while Diego Rico was brought in to the starting XI at left-back.
Relegation threatened Cherries surprisingly opened the scoring on 16 minutes courtesy of Junior Stanislas’s first goal of the season. United failed to deal with a cross from the right-hand side and the ball fell to Stanislas, who attempted a first time left footed cross into the box, only to be blocked by Harry Maguire. Stanislas was quickest on the loose ball for a second time and faced by a static Maguire cheekily knocked the ball through the England international’s parted legs and curled the ball past David De Gea, beating the Spaniard at his near post.
Bournemouth weren’t ahead for long, as Mason Greenwood levelled the score just shy of the half-hour mark. The ball worked its way to Greenwood via Fernandes and Rashford, and the 18-year-old forward did excellently well to open up his body with first touch before firing a ferocious left footed drive past Ramsdale, who’s touch wasn’t enough to stop the ball rippling in the back of the Cherries’ net.
Things rapidly went from bad to worse for Bournemouth, as referee Mike Dean awarded the Red Devils a penalty after Anthony Martial’s header back across the face of goal bounced up and blatantly hit Adam Smith’s limp, dangling left arm for an easy decision.
Marcus Rashford stepped up to take the resultant spot kick and calmly slotted home past Ramsdale’s outstretched glove to put United 2-1 ahead.
And yet further misery was piled onto Eddie Howe’s side, as Anthony Martial spectacularly made it 3-1 in added time of the first half. Fernandes, involved again, made a pass to the left-hand side and found Martial. The Frenchman carried the ball forward and cut inside before whipping an unstoppable curling effort past the hapless Aaron Ramsdale, emphatically in off the underside of the bar.
Bournemouth came sprinting out of the blocks for the second half, with Solanke picking up a loose pass from Maguire and charging into the United box, before the ball fell back to Lewis Cook, who’s low driven effort was palmed away by De Gea, straight into the newly introduced Arnaut Danjuma’s path. Danjuma picked up the loose ball and tried a similar finish to that that was successful for Stanislas but struck the base of the United post.
The chaotic start to the second half continued as a loose back pass was dubiously miscontrolled by Eric Bailly and went out for a corner. Or so it seemed. VAR urged Mike Dean to closer inspect Bailly’s haphazard touch and it was adjudged to have hit the Ivorian’s arm, albeit incredibly close to his shoulder.
A second penalty of the game for handball was awarded, this time for the Cherries. Josh King stepped up, against his former club, for a chance to drag Bournemouth back within touching distance. He delivered, confidently finishing past De Gea to make it 3-2.
The away sides momentum did now last long. A succession of failed Bournemouth found their way to the ever-dangerous Mason Greenwood, this time on his right foot. He stood up Rico and took it past him with ease before striking a powerful arrowed effort into the top corner for United’s fourth.
More calamitous defending handed United their next big chance after Lloyd Kelly gave away a free kick right on the edge of the box. Bruno Fernandes said, ‘thank you’ or ‘obrigado’ and emphatically thumped his effort into the ‘keepers side of the net to make it 5-2 to United after an hour.
United could have had a sixth later, after arguably the best passage of play. Greenwood brought the ball forward with pace, before releasing Wan-Bissaka who’s first time delivery was tucked away by an onrushing Marcus Rashford, who was confirmed by VAR to be merely centimetres offside.
The defeat sees AFC Bournemouth remain in the relegation zone, with five games remaining. The Cherries next game is against Tottenham Hotspur on Thursday.
Referee – Mike Dean
Manchester United: 1 David De Gea, 29 Aaron Wan-Bissaka, 2 Victor Lindelof (Baily 45’), 5 Harry Maguire ©, 23 Luke Shaw, 31 Nemanja Matic (Fred 67’), 6 Paul Pogba, 18 Bruno Fernandes, 26 Mason Greenwood (James 75’), 9 Anthony Martial (Mata 80’), 10 Marcus Rashford (Ighalo 80’)
Subs: 22 Sergio Romero, 3 Eric Bailly (Lindelof 45’), 53 Brandon Williams, 15 Andreas Pereira, 21 Daniel James (Greenwood 75’), 8 Juan Mata (Martial 80’), 39 Scott McTominay, 25 Odion Ighalo (Rashford 80’), Fred 17 (Matic 67’)
Not Used: Romero, Williams, Pereira, McTominay
AFC Bournemouth: 12 Aaron Ramsdale, 15 Adam Smith (Stacey 77’), 5 Nathan Ake ©, 26 Lloyd Kelly, 21 Diego Rico, 19 Junior Stanislas (Billing 66’), 16 Lewis Cook (Gosling 66’), 8 Jefferson Lerma, 20 David Brooks (Arnaut Danjuma 45’), 7 Joshua King, 9 Dominic Solanke (Wilson 66’)
Subs: 1 Artur Boruc, 42 Mark Travers, 17 Jack Stacey (Smith 77’), 4 Dan Gosling (Cook 66’), 6 Andrew Surman, 29 Philip Billing, 14 Arnaut Danjuma (Brooks 45’) , 22 Harry Wilson (Solanke 66’), 44 Sam Surridge
Not Used: Borus, Travers, Surman, Surridge
Booked: Lerma 30’