It took a while to get going, but José Mourinho will be very happy with his first Premier League match as Manchester United manager. After breaking the deadlock through Juan Mata late in the first half, Wayne Rooney and Zlatan Ibrahimović found the net to ensure Adam Smith’s late goal was nothing more than a consolation for the Cherries.
The match got off to an ominously slow start, with Bournemouth seeing more of the possession in the first few minutes but struggling to find a way through United’s solid midfield. However, as the clock ticked on United began to grow into the match, and Anthony Martial had the first real attempt of the match when he skipped inside off the left and curled wide of Artur Boruc’s far post.
It wasn’t until just short of the half-hour mark that United produced the game’s first shot on target. Some crisp passing in the final third culminated in Juan Mata finding Wayne Rooney, though the United captain fired straight at the Bournemouth shot-stopper from the edge of the penalty area.
However, when United did find the breakthrough, it was more thanks to a defensive catastrophe than some attacking craft. Twice in quick succession Bournemouth defender Simon Francis did what is known in the trade as a ‘Fellaini’ — which is to say presented the ball to an opponent with the goal gaping. A persistent Juan Mata made no mistake at the second attempt, slotting home to give United a lead shortly before the interval.
Happily, the second half was a little more open than the first: United’s goal forced Bournemouth into taking a few more risks at the back. One was nearly punished within a few minutes of the restart, though Rooney was denied by Boruc when sent through one-on-one by a spectacular Zlatan Ibrahimović flick. He managed to make amends just short of the hour, when he glanced a scuffed Anthony Martial strike home from point-blank range.
Within five minutes it was three. Zlatan was next to get on the scoresheet, with a long-range drive by hit with such accuracy that it skimmed off the turf before creeping just inside Boruc’s far post. United suddenly looked in total control, and were playing with a swagger that had been completely absent in a difficult first half.
Unfortunately it wasn’t all perfect. With just over 20 minutes remaining the Cherries did manage to pull one back, with full-back Adam Smith lashing a vicious shot beyond David de Gea from just outside the penalty area. However, there never looked any real risk of a dramatic comeback, and the goal is but a minor blot on Mourinho’s United copybook.