As strange as it may sound, Bournemouth v Manchester United was a 6 point game with both teams vying for the 6th place. This is not a statement Manchester United fans will like to hear but it’s the reality today. Ten years ago, Bournemouth was playing in the lower divisions. Their whole starting eleven cost less than Paul Pogba alone. This gulf in the magnitude between the clubs was not reflected on the pitch as Eddie Howe’s men gave Manchester United a run for their money, taking the lead early and almost going home with one point.
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Mourinho’s men started the game with a lifeless display, as it has often been since the beginning of this season, with the Everton and Leicester games being exceptions. The Portuguese manager could be seen mouthing “of course, of course” when Bournemouth’s early goal went in, courtesy of the prolific Callum Wilson. Even that did not inject some well needed energy in his players. Bournemouth pressed well and were quick to recover lost balls, while still having a go at David De Gea.
Gradually, United players started waking up from their slumber and their main offensive threat, Anthony Martial, put them level late in the first half itself, assisted by Alexis Sanchez. It’s his fifth goal in four games. Manchester United will hope to resolve his contract situation quick, lest European giants like Madrid or Juve start sniffing around.
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In the second half, Manchester United were the better team. Mourinho sent them out to get the win and the introduction of Rashford and Herrera in the 56th minute did his team a lot of good. United’s game had more pace. Herrera had a couple of chances from outside the box, which went just wide. Rashford had a great opportunity to score but blasted the ball into Ake, with the ball rebounding off Pogba and forcing a save on the line from Brooks. The goal line technology replay showed only half the ball crossed the line. Still Bournemouth stayed in the game and showed some nice counter attacking football. De Gea had to make some significant saves.
In the end, United’s push was too much for Bournemouth. Paul Pogba brilliantly dribbled on the left flank and put in a dangerous cross. Ake failed to head the ball away and it fell to Marcus Rashford who displayed the needed calmness to slot the ball in the net. The sight was reminiscent of United’s late match winning displays of the Sir Alex Ferguson era and also showed the resilience Jose Mourinho can instill in a team, allowing them to win even when the performance is not quite to the high standards expected.
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Bournemouth and United are now level on points in 6th and 7th place respectively, one behind Spurs, who play Wolves later today and two behind Arsenal who are facing title contenders Liverpool. Bournemouth showed much confidence and tactical prowess today and we can expect them to keep on going strong for the rest of the season. United need to improve defensively, especially with trips to Juventus and ManCity coming next.
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