MATCH REPORT: Manchester United vs AFC Bournemouth

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Manchester United hosted AFC Bournemouth in the Premier League at Old Trafford last night with the adverse weather promising a difficult task ahead.

The Red Devils were looking to get over the disappointing derby day defeat to Manchester City last Sunday and claim a win against the Cherries who sat on 16 points after 16 games.

The United team, which included a first Premier League start of the season for academy graduate, Scott McTominay, began the game well despite the difficult conditions with Juan Mata getting himself into a dangerous position after Romelu Lukaku flicked the ball on to him in the opening eight minutes.

Unfortunately for the hosts, the Spaniard was flagged for offside.

The visitors didn’t play this game sitting behind the ball though as they created a couple of dangerous attacks before the mid-point of the first half but United goalkeeper, David De Gea continued his strong run of form beating away a strike from Bournemouth’s Charlie Daniels after 20 minutes.

The mixture of sleet and snow continued to make the game difficult for the players but after 25 minutes, the hosts found the breakthrough courtesy of Romelu Lukaku who rose highest to head in Juan Mata’s wonderful cross from the left, right into the top corner.

United fans will be hoping that goal can help the Belgian striker regain his high flying form from the start of the season after only managing one goal and three assists in his previous nine league games, compared to seven goals and one assist in the first seven games of the Premier League season.

Lukaku was also shown a yellow card just before half time for a challenge on Cherries midfielder, Harry Arter.

The game was far from a classic as it seemed less and less attacks were being made from either side during the second half but Lukaku and Mata linked up again with the Spaniard’s shot being deflected behind for a corner.

The closest the Red Devils came to a second goal was on the hour mark as Anthony Martial somehow fired over the bar from close range after Bournemouth goalkeeper, Asmir Begovic had stopped Lukaku claiming a brace moments before.

The first substitution of the night saw Martial replaced by Marcus Rashford in what has become a very familiar change for United this season.

Five minutes later, further changes were made for both sides with Ander Herrera replacing Jesse Lingard for the hosts and Jermain Defoe and Benik Afobe replacing Callum Wilson and Junior Stanislas for the visitors.

Despite choosing to bring Defoe, the seventh highest goal-scorer in Premier League history, on, Eddie Howe’s side could not find a breakthrough of their own with United manager Jose Mourinho once again turning to his defensive tactics in the latter stages of games.

This style of play has come under scrutiny from some fans with one saying after the game: “You can play like that at 3-0, 4-0, even 2-0 but one goal is too little a margin to invite Bournemouth to attack. They didn’t look too threatening but it’s frustrating to see them (United) not go for a second goal and kill the game off.”

Despite some frustration as the game drew to its end with shouts from the Stretford End to ‘attack, attack, attack’ and with the sleet still falling heavily, United fans were still in good voice and kept themselves warm by celebrating the festive period with their own famous rendition of The 12 Days of Christmas:

Luke Shaw, whom United fans saw the first of this season in his man of the match display in the final Champions League group stage game against CSKA Moscow, departed for the final eight minutes of the night, being replaced by Ashley Young.

For his performance in this game, Shaw was again voted man of the match by the fans. Surely a significant confidence booster for the full-back.

The game finished with this 1-0 score-line and United will now turn their attention to Sunday’s game away at The Hawthorns to take on Alan Pardew’s West Bromwich Albion while Bournemouth will travel back down to south coast as they take on Liverpool also on Sunday.

United will hope this win can be the start of a new long unbeaten run at Old Trafford following the end of the previous record-breaking run of 37 league games unbeaten at home that was broken by their city rivals.

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