Wednesday 18 April 2018

Match report: Bournemouth 0-2 United

United's second string side returned to winning ways and strengthened our grip on the runners up place in the league table with a solid win on the south coast. Having suffered a shock defeat to bottom placed West Brom at the weekend, Jose's rotated Reds gave a strong reaction to move four points ahead of Liverpool with four games to go through Chris Smalling's third successive away goal and an excellent lob from substitute Romelu Lukaku.

With Saturday's FA Cup semi - final with Spurs at Wembley on the horizon, there were seven changes to the team and the Reds responded accordingly, with several fringe players given the chance to play their way into the manager's thinking for that tie.
Steve Cook's intervention prevented an early third minute opener for Anthony Martial, but Eddie Howe's side then went close themselves at the other end through Jordon Ibe, who flashed his shot wide after good link up between Charlie Daniels and Callum Wilson.
Phil Jones cleared well under pressure from Ryan Fraser, but United then took the lead shortly before the half hour mark with a classic counter attacking goal. At the culmination of a slick four-man move, Jesse Lingard collected the ball from Ander Herrera and drove into the box, where he picked out Smalling for his third goal of 2018.

The recalled Martial was flagged offside when clean through, and David De Gea - named in the PFA Team of the Year for the fifth successive season - saved superbly from the impressive Wilson on 42 minutes as the Cherries started to up the ante. Rashford fired narrowly off target on the angle having been found by Martial, and Bournemouth then had half - hearted penalty appeals waved away when Wilson went down in a coming together with Jones in what looked no more than a 50/50. The Reds then had a spot-kick shout of their own when Lys Mousset scythed down Paul Pogba but referee Mr Scott deemed the foul to have occured outside the area.

No doubt aware of Bournemouth's burgeoning reputation as kings of the comeback, Jose shuffled his pack and introduced Lukaku shortly after the hour. It took only seven minutes for the big Belgian to make his mark, as another blistering counter attack saw Paul Pogba pick out Lukaku, and he placed an unerring one - on - one finish beyond the advancing Asmir Begovic.

The south coast side, set for a fourth consecutive top flight season, battled gamely but were unable to find their famed powers of recovery, as United picked up the points and completed a first ever league double over Bournemouth in the process.

Overall team performance: Much improved - 8/10
United Faithful Man of the Match: Much like the team, Paul Pogba enjoyed a much better day at the office

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