Romelu Lukaku's header spoiled a valiant Bournemouth effort, leading Manchester United to a 1-0 win at a rainy Old Trafford.
Romelu Lukaku's header spoiled a valiant Bournemouth effort, leading Manchester United to a 1-0 win at a rainy Old Trafford. Both managers rotated their squad for this midweek game, which seemed to favour Bournemouth more.
Bournemouth showed slick movement and passing that led to many positive assaults on the United defense. Eddie Howe chose not to sit back and absorb pressure, instead opting for a more attacking mentality. His trifecta of Callum Wilson, Junior Stanislas, and Joshua King were constant thorns to Jose Mourinho’s team and their ability to find space and joy behind United’s midfield on was a constant theme throughout the first half.
Mourinho handed Scott McTominay a rare start in the United midfield, but the young 21-year-old struggled to keep up with Bournemouth's aforementioned trio.
The one bright spark for United was found in Anthony Martial on the left flank. The Frenchmen’s direct running style created doubt in Bournemouth’s defence, opening up avenues for Lukaku and Jesse Lingard.
Despite Bournemouth’s sustained pressure, United scored first, against the run of the play. Juan Mata - who was brought in to provide the attacking impetus - put in a cross for Lukaku to head past Asmir Begovic. It was a goal much needed for the Belgian striker who had waves of criticisms rained down on him over the weekend.
The goal settled the nerves of the United side, who began to exert pressure on Bournemouth. Shaw found avenues up the left-hand side, allowing him and Martial to team up on Bournemouth’s right flank, yet, the Cherries still created chances on De Gea’s goal, much to the chagrin of Mourinho.
The second half was even messier than the first, with both teams being in the festive spirit of gifting each other possession of the ball. Though, it was United that escaped the mire and looked more likely to score a second.
United continued to probe for that elusive second goal that would offer them the safety blanket, as chances began to form for the home side. After a fortuitous ricochet, Martial skied his shot over the open goal, despite being convinced that Dan Gosling got the last touch.
As Bournemouth went upfield searching for the equalizer, Marcus Rashford - who has featured in every United game this season - came on to exploit the space afforded to him. His thunderous strike that crashed against the bar was an indicator that a second goal for United was coming.
Eddie Howe, one goal down, threw even more caution to the wind my brining on two strikers; Jermaine Defoe and Benik Afobe, but Bournemouth's efforts were met every time by the resistance of David de Gea in the United goal.
Mourinho's side quashed Bournemouth's last assault on the United goal, and saw out their 1-0 victory in a drab game.