It was not the most exciting game, but the Red Devils got off to an ideal start for the season 2016-2017, as they claimed their first three points at the Vitality Stadium against AFC Bournemouth. Mata, Rooney and Zlatan were on target for the Red Devils, but they struggled in the first half on a ground where they lost last season, with Bournemouth playing high, forcing United to defend deep. United did create a couple of chances thru’ Martial and Rooney, but Bournemouth looked the livelier ones, although they failed to test De Gea, as United’s defensive players did not allow them enough space to get any clear chances. Mourinho was less than impressed by his players, as he cut a lone figure on the bench, clearly thinking how to get the team back in attack. However, United broke the deadlock five minutes from half-time, as Mata pounced on a poor backpass from Francis, but despite his initial attempt to slide the ball underneath the keeper failed, the resulting save from the latter saw the loose ball bounce off the unfortunate Francis, and fall kindly again to Mata, who this time slotted home into an empty net.
Mourinho must have made his points in the dressing room, as United came back looking more threatening in the second half. Rooney saw a shot saved by Boruc after Zlatan had set him thru’ with a clever lofted pass, but was on the scoresheet on the 59th minute. Valencia’s cross was met by Martial, who clearly scuffed his attempted volley, and instead the ball fell to an unmarked Rooney in the box, and he calmly placed his header past the keeper. United could have been three goals clear minutes later, but Boruc produced a brilliant save to keep out Zlatan’s freekick. However the striker made amends on the 64th minute, as he dispatched a low shot from 25-yards into Boruc’s right-hand corner, giving the keeper no chance whatsoever to keep the ball out. Bournemouth however got a lifeline when they scored on the 69th minute thru’ Smith, who dispatched an unstoppable shot past De Gea as the defense was caught out with a clever pass by Grabban. Bournemouth tried to reduce the deficit in the closing minutes, and De Gea had to make a couple of saves to keep them out, and keep United’s 2-goal cushion intact. Mourinho still needs to fine-tune the team, but it’s a good start for the manager and the players.
2 notable absentees for this match were Smalling, and of course record-signing Pogba, both serving suspensions picked up last season. Pogba is expected to make his official re-debut with the Red Devils next Friday at Old Trafford, as United will host Southampton (yes, this season there will be games played on Friday nights as well).