- Bournemouth defensive errors gave Mata, Rooney goals
- Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored on debut
- Adam Smith bagged Bournemouth’s only goal
It wasn’t exactly pretty, but Manchester United will take it.
On Jose Mourinho’s debut with the Red Devils, the visitors scored a pair of ugly goals highlighted by some disastrous defending that sent United home with all three points. Juan Mata bagged the opener just before halftime after a howler at the back from Simon Francis, and the second fell to Wayne Rooney who somehow found himself completely unmarked to nod home easily.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic also wanted in on the party, capping the scoring for United with their third of the day, and a consolation for Adam Smith was the only positive the hosts could find.
The start of the match was sluggish, with just a few moments of heavy physical contact – including Zlatan Ibrahimovic barreling over a pair of Bournemouth defenders – breaking up the otherwise listless first 15 minutes.
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Finally, there was some action on goal as Callum Wilson of Bournemouth struck a shot that grazed the outside of the post and slid just wide in the 17th minute, although the play was subsequently pulled back for a foul on Wilson.
United had its first chance on net when Anthony Martial burst down the left wing and cut inside on 24 minutes, shooting from the far corner of the box, but it blazed well over. The Cherries began dug in defensively, and United looked to break down the compact style with short, tight passing. It worked Rooney a shot that produced the game’s first save, a comfortable one down low to the left of Artur Boruc.
With the game lacking a spark, Bournemouth earned a free-kick on the left edge but it came to nothing after solid defending by the visitors. Instead of a spark, Manchester United were gifted a gaffe. The Cherries gashed themselves at the back five minutes before the break, with a pair of hideously poor touches from Simon Francis on an otherwise innocuous long-ball from Ander Herrera.
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First, Francis appeared to be caught between a touch and a back-pass, and instead just handed Juan Mata the ball free on goal. Boruc came out in an attempt to smother the ball, but instead he sent it flying off Francis’s leg, and the ball rebounded again into the path of Mata, who touched home for the opener.
After the break, United’s attack looked more up to the task. Rooney had a great chance saved well by Boruc five minutes after halftime, and a penalty shout in the 52nd minute that was waved away correctly. Rooney would finish a chance on the hour mark, after a scuffed shot from Antonio Valencia fell right to the England captain, and all alone in the box he headed past Boruc.
Ibrahimovic nearly put United 3-0 up moments later with a close-range free-kick, but Boruc produced a fantastic save to keep the Cherries within reach. You can’t keep Ibra out forever, though, as the Swedish superstar would indeed produce United’s third with a clinical effort from outside the box, a low strike into the far corner.
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Bournemouth would get a nice goal in the 69th minute as Adam Smith produced a stunning bit of attacking play to beat David De Gea. A ball from Lewis Grabban sprung Smith down the right, and his cut-back touch produced the space to fire a missile into the top corner to bring the Cherries back within two.
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It would prove too little too late, as Manchester United easily saw the game out. Zlatan had the opportunity for another late, but he instead laid off for new signing Henrik Mkhitaryan – on as a substitute – and the pass was wayward. De Gea was required one more time in injury time, as Andrew Surman fired a shot on a corner. United’s opening day win is their 16th on the first match of a season, moving them above Chelsea for most in the Premier League.