Manchester United closed in on qualification for next season’s Champions League with a 1-0 win away at Bournemouth on Saturday. An early goal from Casemiro was enough to see off the Cherries, meaning the Reds need only a single point from their final two games to secure a top-four finish.
Erik ten Hag made no changes for United’s final away day of the Premier League season, naming the same lineup as beat Wolves 2-0 at Old Trafford last weekend. The result was a similarly drab first half, at least once Casemiro opened the scoring inside the first 10 minutes.
The Brazilian’s third Premier League goal was certainly his most spectacular, coming after Christian Eriksen dinked a hopeful ball into a crowded Bournemouth box, prodded towards the near post by Cherries defender Marcos Senesi. Casemiro needed no second invitation to throw himself backwards for a fine overhead kick, the ball flashing past Neto and into the Bournemouth goal.
From there, you could have turned off the TV to halftime and not missed a great deal. United saw the majority of possession but didn’t create many chances, while Bournemouth’s only real opportunities arrived either side of the half hour, when Dominic Solanke forced a save from David de Gea, and David Brooks saw a shot blocked.
Bournemouth made a brighter start to the second half, with Brooks quickly stinging de Gea’s palms with a rising effort from inside the area. Minutes later, Solanke drilled a low ball across the face of goal, though no teammates were on hand to tap it into an empty net.
United gradually regained control of the game, but couldn’t convert their possession into a second goal — a fact not helped by the introduction of Wout Weghorst for Anthony Martial. Inside the final 20 minutes, ten Hag chucked Alejandro Garnacho on for Jadon Sancho as Bournemouth legs began to tire. Fernandes soon drew a fine save from Neto with a brilliant volley from the edge of the box, tipped around the post by the diving keeper.
Bournemouth hit back with a good chance of their own, as substitute Kieffer Moore sprung the offside trap to go one-on-one with de Gea, though the Spanish shot-stopper got down to make a superb save. Not willing to take further risks, ten Hag withdrew Christian Eriksen and Antony for Scott McTominay and Fred, and United saw out the win, the only late scare being a vicious Senesi volley that skimmed the top of the crossbar.