Manchester United bounced back to winning ways in solid fashion as they beat Bournemouth 2-0 at the Vitality Stadium on Wednesday.
Jose Mourinho named a much changed side, as was expected, handing rare starts to the likes of Matteo Darmian, Luke Shaw and Marcus Rashford. But, it was the hosts that were the brighter of the two sides, creating the most chances in the first twenty minutes before Manchester United started growing into the game.
The deadlock was finally broken in the 28th minute, when Ander Herrera opened up play to release Jesse Lingard, who squared the ball to Chris Smalling to tap in the opener. The next major moment in the game saw Bournemouth being denied a penalty when Luke Shaw appeared to foul Callum Wilson inside the box.
FT: Bournemouth 0 #MUFC 2.
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) April 18, 2018
Manchester United though, went on to secure the result in the second half as Paul Pogba played Romelu Lukaku through, with the Belgian making no error to dink the ball over Asmir Begovic. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Jose Mourinho’s men after a largely convincing performance.
David De Gea: 7/10
A momentous day in his Manchester United career, De Gea led the side out for the very first time. But, he wasn’t tested much over the course of the game, with the save off Joshua King in the first half one of the only times he was called into action. In the end, he kept a 17th clean sheet, and is now the favourite to win his first Golden Glove.
Matteo Darmian: 5/10
Darmian was making his first Premier League start since October, and the rustiness in his game was palpable. Bournemouth tried exploiting his flank, and were successful in doing so more often than not, with the Italian being off-pace and caught out of position on a lot of occasions. This outing only seeks to point towards Manchester United’s need for a new right-back this summer.
Chris Smalling: 6.5/10
Since the start of March, no player has scored more away PL goals than Chris Smalling (3).
Dele Alli, David Silva, Cenk Tosun, Jamie Vardy & Chris Wood also have 3 in that time pic.twitter.com/eBGtQZDJiI
— Sky Sports Statto (@SkySportsStatto) April 18, 2018
His decision making at the back was perplexing at times, often leaving Jones to fend for himself by being sucked out of position by King. But, he grew into the game after scoring the opener, his third away goal in as many games. The Englishman has now scored the most away goals in the Premier League since the start of March, a shocking but welcome statistic.
Phil Jones: 7.5/10
Back into the starting lineup for the first time since February, Jones was understandably slow off the blocks. But, he hadn’t lost any of his defensive instincts, with a sturdy challenge on Callum Wilson early on an indication of that, although he had made an error to let the striker through.
That was his only error in a resounding outing though, with Jones making a case for himself to be included, not just in the FA Cup semi-final, but also in the league going forward.
Luke Shaw: 6/10
Another player whose Manchester United career seems to be winding down. Shaw though, made a case for being retained beyond the summer after a largely solid showing that saw Jordon Ibe being kept quite throughout his stint on the pitch.
But, there was one major error that could have been costly for Manchester United, as he brought down Callum Wilson inside the box. Could have been more adventurous going forward – an area of his game that needs major work, especially his crossing.
Marouane Fellaini: 6/10
Making his first start since the dreadful Sevilla game, Fellaini produced a steady performance, proving to be a useful outlet in the opposition box. The Belgian even showed some slick footwork at times, linking up well with Pogba, in particular. Fatigue set in as the game went on, but he will surely be a handy player for the rest of the campaign.
Ander Herrera: 7/10
Ander Herrera vs. Bournemouth:
Most tackles won (4)
2nd most interceptions (4)
Most ball recoveries (10)
Most passes completed (62)
Has to start against Spurs. pic.twitter.com/ohenX3tfBE
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) April 18, 2018
Much improved from the West Brom game last weekend, Herrera looked at home in a deeper role that enabled him to be more defensively proactive. Indeed, the Spaniard won a lot of balls in front of the back four, moving the ball quickly to the opposition half.
His oft-overlooked passing abilities came to the fore as well, as Herrera split the Bournemouth defence wide open before Lingard assisted Smalling. Only drawback of his performance was the fact that he often dropped too deep, which would slow down the build-up play.
Paul Pogba: 7.5/10
A game of two halves for Pogba, who was largely off-pace in the first half. But, the Frenchman finally heeded his manager’s advice, keeping things simple, which saw him run the show in the second half, driving forward with purpose and capping off a strong performance with the assist for Lukaku.
Pogba now has the joint-most away assists in the Premier League (seven), with only Kevin De Bruyne, Leroy Sane and David Silva ahead of him in the overall count. Makes you wonder, just how good his numbers would read if he performed like he did in the second half on a consistent basis.
Jesse Lingard: 6.5/10
Great paaa from Herrera 🎯
Lingard with the assist 🙌
Smalling with the goal ⚽️
— United Goals ⚽️ (@UnitedGoals__) April 18, 2018
Lingard has had better days in the past, but he still made a difference on the night. A bundle of energy throughout his stint on the pitch, his movement off the ball was hard to pick for the Bournemouth defenders as evidenced by his ghosting run that helped set up Smalling’s goal.
But, his passing was wayward on the night, something that he’ll need to improve on when he features next, likely in the FA Cup semi-final.
Marcus Rashford: 6/10
A rare outing in his preferred role as the striker, Rashford showed the qualities that make him a perfect fit in the spot, even though he might not have been at his best on Wednesday. The terrific change of pace when moving in behind the defensive line. His decision making though, could do with some work, a key trait that needs improving if he is to succeed as a striker.
Anthony Martial: 6.5/10
A lively figure on the left flank, Martial was a handful for Simon Francis for large parts of the game, with his trickiness on the ball opening up the spaces. But, he petered out as the game wore on, which suggested a lack of fitness. The Frenchman did help set up the second goal though, with his flick enabling Pogba to break away into open space.
Romelu Lukaku: 7/10
Started on the bench, and that proved to be just the kick on the backside that Lukaku needed. The Belgian was lively throughout his short cameo and made a darting run that opened up the backline before scoring past Begovic, his 27th goal of the season.