Manchester United bounced back from Sunday’s derby defeat with a 1-0 win at home to Bournemouth on Wednesday. It wasn’t the most convincing of performances from José Mourinho’s men, but they did enough to restore a three-point buffer over third-placed Chelsea in the Premier League table.
The only goal of the game came courtesy of Romelu Lukaku midway through the opening period, the Belgian leaping to flick Juan Mata’s dinked cross beyond Asmir Begović and into the top corner. By halftime, however, United had reason to count their blessings, with Bournemouth having posed frequent problems up top.
The Cherries’ threat was evident early on, when Phil Jones had to shuffle quickly across the pitch to snuff out the danger posed by the pacy Josh King — formerly of this parish. Before United took the lead, Charlie Daniels and Dan Gosling both drew saves from David de Gea, and the Spaniard was called into action again on the half hour when Junior Stanislas’ drive took a mean deflection.
Perhaps Bournemouth’s best first half chance fell to Simon Francis five minutes later, though the full-back sliced the ball comfortably over the crossbar having been left inexplicably free at the back post on a Cherries corner. It was as much through good fortune as good football that United carried their lead to the break.
The second half started in less panicked fashion, though United’s slender advantage ensured they could ill-afford to get complacent. They should’ve killed the game off on the hour, though Anthony Martial contrived to produce one of the misses of the season so far, shanking the ball clean over the crossbar from point-blank range with an open-goal gaping.
His eventual replacement, Marcus Rashford, went close to adding a second inside the final 20 minutes, though his rocket from out on the left cracked off Begović's crossbar and away from danger.
The second goal proved elusive, but United held on for the win regardless. Bournemouth’s succession of attacking substitutions — including the introduction of Jermain Defoe — weren’t enough for Eddie Howe’s side to claw their way back into the match, and the Cherries succumbed to a one-goal defeat.