Wednesday 13 December 2017

Match report: United 1-0 AFC Bournemouth

Romelu Lukaku's first half header settled a tight encounter with the Cherries as United consolidated second place behind Manchester City. The Reds had come into the game on the back of disappointment in the derby to slip eleven points off the pace and - despite an unconvincing showing against the south coast side - did enough to get back on track. 

Lukaku's bullet 26th minute header from Juan Mata's cross ultimately proved decisive, but Eddie Howe's side will consider themselves unlucky as their effort, energy and endeavour went unrewarded. After Anthony Martial's attempted flicked through pass narrowly evaded both Lukaku and Mata, the Cherries got a foothold and started to come on strong. 

David de Gea was called into action twice in quick succession as he saved well from Charlie Daniels 25 yarder and then did well to deny Dan Gosling from close range. Three minutes later, United had moved ahead when Mata picked out Lukaku, and the Belgian silenced his critics with a powerful headed finish from ten yards. 

Phil Jones returned to the side after injury and put in an impressive performance at the heart of United's defence. He was involved in an attacking move, however, that almost led to our second goal shortly before the break. He linked well with the equally impressive Luke Shaw, as Jones 50-yard pass picked out the onrushing Shaw, he cut the ball back and Simon Francis almost inadvertently turned the ball into his own net.

Junior Stanislas went close from distance and Francis then nearly scored at the right end when he fired over the bar after a flurry of Bournemouth corners. De Gea was tested again on the cusp of half-time when Ryan Fraser's cross caught the Spaniard off guard, but he managed to get across and palmed the ball away to maintain United's slender advantage.

The next chance came ten minutes after half-time and it was one that would've put the result beyond doubt. Nemanja Matic crossed for Lukaku whom in turned nodded down for Anthony Martial, but he only skewed his effort over the top five yards out. 

Substitute Marcus Rashford rattled the crossbar with a piledriver, DDG saved from the dangerous Defoe and Jones last-ditch challenge denied Benik Afobe as the Cherries pushed for an equaliser.

Defoe was thwarted again by the legs of De Gea, but despite late pressure - in which Fraser tested the keeper once more - United held out.

Overall team performance: 6.5/10
United Faithful Man of the Match: Luke Shaw 

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