Manchester United’s opening game ended in a 3-1 victory away at Bournemouth. Goals from Juan Mata, Wayne Rooney, and Zlatan Ibrahimovic were slightly undermined by a brilliant strike from Bournemouth’s Adam Smith. A 3-0 win would’ve been a statement in Mourinho’s first game, but a 3-1 result was good nonetheless, and most of United’s players looked very good on the day.
United’s two new arrivals who started the game got off to an expected start. Eric Bailly clattered former United player Joshua King in the first 10 minutes with an incredibly physical challenge for seemingly no reason. It was lovable. Zlatan Ibrahimovic leaped in a predatory manner through two defenders with the hope of winning a header that nearly gave him a concussion. Both players showed their intent to make a difference from the start of the match.
Ander Herrera did wonderfully to put Antonio Valencia through on the right-wing with a well-executed through ball, and the Ecuadorian swung a pass back to Juan Mata in the box. Mata slid the ball to put Wayne Rooney through on goal, but his shot was lacking power and was straight at Artur Boruc. Rooney in his prime would have scored that goal 9 times out of 10.
The only other major moment of the first half came in the 40th minute when Juan Mata gave United the lead after latching onto a poor back pass from Simon Francis, who failed to control a slicing pass from Ander Herrera. Mata did well but could only strike it into Boruc’s hands before Steve Cook put him through by accident. The Spaniard took his goal well and made next week’s selection tough for Jose Mourinho. On Bournemouth’s part, it was a poor error and they’ll feel bad in a half where they were nearly equal to United.
To open the second half, Zlatan Ibrahimovic put Rooney through with a wonderful heel flick in the 50th minute, and Rooney missed the one-on-one with Boruc. It wasn’t an easy chance, but he did terribly with it. In the 52nd minute, Ibrahimovic and Anthony Martial did wonderfully to put Rooney through again, but the Englishman couldn’t get to the ball and took a dive.
Daley Blind did excellently in the 54th minute. He blocked an effort at the edge of the box before Jordon Ibe was put through with a wonderful ball. Clear on goal, Blind used ridiculous timing to get one foot on the ball and clear. He didn’t even give away a corner, so spectacular was the effort. Blind was at it again in the 57th minute. After a risky ball from Herrera put Ibe through, Blind timed a fantastic lunge to win the ball.
Wonderful buildup play down the right from Herrera in the 59th allowed Mata to flick Valencia through with his heel. Valencia swung in a cross for a mistimed volley from Martial. The volley went to Rooney, who tucked home with a decent finish with his head. He needed that.
Martial did wonderfully to win a free kick for Ibrahimovic in the 62nd minute. Zlatan’s effort was wonderful but saved. However, the Swede eventually got his goal with an absolutely ridiculous low effort from range two minutes later. That’s the best long-range effort United fans have seen in a long time, and Martial did well to find him for the assist.
Bournemouth notched one back with a goal that could’ve even topped Ibrahimovic’s, as Adam Smith powered a lofty strike into the top right corner. That was unstoppable, but this is why United needed to score goals, and while they couldn’t at the vital moments last season, the signs are there for this one.
In the 75th minute, Mata made way for new signing Henrikh Mkhitaryan, and Jose Mourinho gave the Spaniard a pat on the back that told everyone everything they needed to know about his performance. There’s no duel between these guys. Hopefully, it’s Rooney who makes way for the Spaniard next week and not Mkhitaryan, even though he took his goal well. Competition is high for places in the team, from defence to attack.
In the 85th minute, Martial was replaced by Morgan Schneiderlin to begin the defensive changes that conclude matches. Martial was splendid, providing a real cutting edge for United throughout the game and picking up two assists- though one was admittedly lucky. There’s a big season ahead for Martial, who finally has the attacking side around him to have a great year.
Rooney bid farewell for Memphis in the 89th minute, and while he scored a goal he struggled to make an impact throughout. I could see Herrera, Pogba, Mkhitaryan or Mata in his place next week, but I think he’ll stay on for a while longer. Memphis made an interesting run while he was on the pitch but the cross was poor. He seems to be slowly developing into his place.
Overall, United’s win represented hope for the squad depth of the side. Marouane Fellaini played very well, Eric Bailly and Daley Blind looked like quality in defence without Chris Smalling, and Henrikh Mkhitaryan is going to struggle to get into a front four that played very well throughout- Rooney was a standard below the rest but admittedly took his goal well. United has a lot to look forward to this season, and fans will take pride from the fact they looked much better than both last season and Pep Guardiola’s dangerous Manchester City side. A great Premier League season is ahead, and United’s opening win was a great start.
Man of the Match: Eric Bailly
Goals: Juan Mata 40′, Wayne Rooney 59′, Zlatan Ibrahimovic 64′
Assists: Anthony Martial 59′, 64′
Manchester United: De Gea; Valencia, Bailly, Blind, Shaw; Fellaini, Herrera; Mata (Mkhitaryan 75′), Rooney (Memphis 89′), Martial (Schneiderlin 85′); Ibrahimovic
Substitutes Not Used: Romero; Rojo; Carrick; Rashford
Bookings: Ander Herrera 86′