Rashford’s late winner seals Manchester United comeback at Bournemouth

Marcus Rashford’s injury-time goal secured a 2-1 win for Manchester United as Bournemouth suffered a first home league defeat of the season

If Manchester United are to achieve José Mourinho’s stated ambition of forcing their way back into top-four contention by Christmas then he will hope this Jekyll and Hyde performance can act as the catalyst.

For most of the first half, it was Bournemouth who looked the team more likely to challenge for honours this season as they repeatedly carved open the visitors’ defence and took a deserved lead through Callum Wilson’s well-taken goal.

Mourinho admitted he could hardly bear to watch at times but the United manager was thankful for Anthony Martial’s fifth goal in five games and Marcus Rashford’s late intervention, as his side followed up last Sunday’s home win against Everton with a second consecutive 2-1 victory that will come as a great relief to the Portuguese.

The United manager had predicted before the match that a run of positive results could still rescue their season after a slow start, yet any more first-half performances such as this and that optimism will soon evaporate. A more clinical side than Bournemouth could easily have been out of sight after Ryan Fraser saw his early chance saved by David de Gea following a mistake from Chris Smalling.

Bournemouth created three chances in a 60-second spell before finally making the breakthrough in the 11th minute when Wilson tapped home a cross from Junior Stanislas after a brilliant reverse pass from Lewis Cook. The former Coventry striker now has 50 goals since moving to the south coast in 2014 and was a constant threat throughout the first half, combining well with David Brooks – a boyhood United fan – and the impressive Stanislas, who was making his first league start of the season after injury.

In the absence of Romelu Lukaku, who picked up an knock in training on Friday, Mourinho handed Alexis Sánchez his first Premier League start since the 1-1 draw against Wolves six weeks ago and left Rashford on the bench in the week the England striker celebrated his 21st birthday.

Yet, in contrast to their vibrant opponents, United looked lethargic in attack until midway through the half when Sánchez started to make his presence felt. It was the Chile international’s persistence that created the equaliser as he won the ball in the centre circle before linking up with Ashley Young on the right to lay the ball on a plate for Martial. An impressive leap to beat Nathan Aké to a header almost resulted in United going in ahead at the break, only for Juan Mata to screw his shot wide of the goal.

But Bournemouth, who had accumulated 11 points from their five previous home matches this season, refused to lie down and would have retaken the lead had it not been for two important saves from De Gea. The second stop, five minutes into the second half, was an outstanding reaction to a clever flick from Brooks after Fraser had left Young for dead and picked out his teammate perfectly in front of goal.

At the other end, Luke Shaw tested Asmir Begovic in the Bournemouth goal but Mourinho had clearly seen enough and threw on Rashford and Ander Herrera in place of Mata and the ineffective Fred.

The switch seemed to have the desired effect as United started to dominate possession, with Sánchez drawing a good save from Begovic before Herrera slammed a shot just wide.

Yet a miraculous goal-line block by the outstanding Netherlands international Aké from Rashford’s shot after Young’s free-kick hit the woodwork hinted that it might not be United’s day. Paul Pogba had also failed to convert the rebound, with Brooks clearing off the line for a second occasion, and when Herrera curled another effort wide of the target it seemed their chance of victory may have gone.

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A brilliant flowing move started and finished by Brooks could have made it even worse for United but once more De Gea was equal to his shot.

It was to prove crucial as the clock ticked into stoppage time. Rashford pounced on a rare mistake from the hitherto faultless Aké to slam home the winner and keep Mourinho’s mini-revival just about on track.


Ed Aarons at the Vitality Stadium

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