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And to think of all those mind-numbing games Manchester United fans had to sit through under Louis van Gaal. All those pedestrian attacking performances with Jose Mourinho at the helm. All that soul-crushing football David Moyes presided over. They had to stomach all of that and now, when the team has finally rediscovered a thirst for goal rushes and show stopping entertainment, the supporters are not around to watch any of it in the flesh.
To be honest, though, they will doubtless happily settle for this for now. The sheer joy of seeing their side, even from afar, attacking with this sort of freedom and expression must provide healthy compensation for not being allowed into the stadium. Bournemouth, now mired in the relegation zone and a walking accident defensively, may have been thankful Old Trafford was not full, mind. “That was a game for the fans,” Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, the United manager, said. “Imagine that performance in front of fans - it would have been six, seven goals - they give us extra energy and too bad they weren’t here.”
It is probably a reflection of how workmanlike and disjointed it has been going forward for too long that this was only United’s second five-goal haul in the Premier League since Sir Alex Ferguson retired seven years ago, and not since 2011 had Old Trafford witnessed their team score this many in a single top flight game. To put that into some context, Manchester City have scored five or more goals in 26 league fixtures since 2013/14.
This barmy game, one full of barnstorming goals and calamitous defending, was the continuation of a uplifting theme for United of late and, if they keep this up, they are not going to be dependent on the safety net of fifth place to secure Champions League qualification should City lose their appeal against a two-season European ban. For the third league game running, Solskjaer named the same starting XI and watched the opposition get bludgeoned by an irresistible, irrepressible front five of Mason Greenwood, Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial, Bruno Fernandes and Paul Pogba. Picking a highlight is hard. Fernandes scored a sublime free-kick and Greenwood rifled in a first before Rashford scored from the penalty spot but choosing between the teenager’s second and Martial’s thunderbolt felt a bit unfair. They were the sort of strikes that lift the roof when there is a full house but it was to Greenwood that the eye kept being drawn.
Solskjaer was reluctant to get into a debate afterwards about whether the 18-year-old is as good as Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo at the same age but the talent is immense and he is rewarding his manager’s show of faith in quite spectacular fashion. Give him sight of goal and he will punish you. Bournemouth did that twice, and suffered. Greenwood has 15 for the season now, Rashford and Martial 20 each. Not bad when you think the elder two of that youthful trio have each missed two months through injury and Greenwood has only started 19 matches this term.
“Mason is one of the best, if not the best finisher I have worked with and seen,” Solskjaer said. “We’ve always known there’s a special kid there. I don’t want to compare Mason to Wazza or Cristiano, I don’t think that’s fair. They’ve had fantastic careers and I’m sure if Mason keeps on doing the right things, making good decisions, he will have a fantastic career as well.”
Solskjaer is not getting swept away by United’s resurgence, though. He is determined that complacency will not creep into the ranks as he eyes greater consistency and the more cautious United fans will certainly have been encouraged to hear the manager issuing a warning to the club’s board and his squad before this game that what is now a 16-match unbeaten streak is not evidence they have a “cracked it”. It was a message he repeated afterwards and, given United’s defending for Bournemouth goals, he was right to do so. They were both extremely cheap and food for thought on an afternoon when United otherwise gorged themselves in front of goal.
Bournemouth took an unexpected lead. Victor Lindelof failed to clear a cross with a poor header before Harry Maguire proceeded to get nutmegged on the left byline by Junior Stanislas, who then curled home a shot between David De Gea and his near post. It was a shock to which United responded emphatically. Greenwood needed one touch to control a pass from Fernandes before drilling the ball past Aaron Ramsdale. The power probably did for the Bournemouth goalkeeper but it was only because of his late saves from Luke Shaw, Fernandes and Pogba that this rout did not turn into a humiliation.
Five minutes later, United were in front, Adam Smith handling Martial’s header from Shaw’s cross and Rashford - on penalty taking duties instead of Fernandes - converting from the spot. When Martial then launched a blistering drive into the top corner on the cusp of half-time to make it 3-1, Bournemouth looked finished, which is why Solskjaer was so aggrieved to see his team shoot themselves in the foot immediately after the restart.
Oh my word Anthony Martial that is special 😍— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) July 4, 2020
He has now hit 20 goals in an individual season for the first time in his professional career!
The No.9 shirt suits him 🙌 pic.twitter.com/fuY5TpGwxh
Having been granted a reprieve when Arnaut Danjuma hit a post after De Gea saved Lewis Cook’s shot, Eric Bailly - who had just been introduced - proceeded to handle a long punt upfield in the next passage of play that was ruled a penalty by the Video Assistant Referee.
There was a time, not too long ago it must be said, when at 3-2 up, United might have started to panic but this front five thinks it is going to score all the time. Greenwood got his second when he raced around the outside of poor Diego Rico and pinged a bullet of a shot into the far top corner and Fernandes made it five with a fine free-kick.
Bournemouth have lost seven of their past eight league games now and, with Spurs, Leicester and Manchester City to come, the omens do not look good. United, on the other hand, have the wind firmly in their sails.
- Manchester United have won three consecutive Premier League games for the first time since they won all of their first six such matches under manager Ole Gunnar Solskjær from December 2018 to January 2019.
- Bournemouth have become only the second side to lose 20 points from leading positions in this season’s Premier League, after West Ham United (22).
- This was the first time Manchester United scored 5+ goals in a home league match since Boxing Day 2011, when they beat Wigan 5-0.
- Junior Stanislas’ opener for Bournemouth was the first time Manchester United conceded in 500 minutes of play in all competitions at Old Trafford since Jay Rodriguez scored against them for Burnley in January.
- Mason Greenwood has now scored eight league goals for Man United in 2019-20; among players aged 18 and younger, only Michael Owen (twice), Robbie Fowler and Wayne Rooney have ever scored more in a single Premier League season.
- With his penalty today, Marcus Rashford became the first English player to score 20 goals in all competitions in a season for Man United since Wayne Rooney in 2011-12 (34).
- This is the first time two Man United players (Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial) have scored 10+ home goals in a single Premier League campaign since 2007-08 (Cristiano Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez).
I'm very happy with today, the energy we had, the goals we scored, the will and intent to go forward.
That is definitely a game for the fans, the Stretford End would have loved that if they were here.
Mason is a fantastic goal-scorer. When he scored, they were very important moments for us. Defenders will have to think about the outside as well, as he can score with both feet. We will nurture and manage him as well as we can.
It's just the next game now, we have a few days of recovery until Aston Villa now.
⚽️⚽️⚽️⚽️⚽️— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) July 4, 2020
For the first time in 3,113 days Manchester United have scored five in the Premier League at Old Trafford. pic.twitter.com/JUqUzQEhmC
Marcus Rashford's thoughts
It's definitely enjoyable when you're winning games. The lads enjoyed it today. These are the type of performances we want to be putting in. We can get better defensively.
For us, it doesn't matter who scores as long as someone is scoring. When we're all in goal-scoring form it's always positive. It's important to push on to the end of the season.
Left foot, right foot, both sides are comfortable for Greenwood. But I wouldn't put too much on him. It's a big bonus for us to have him in our squad.
We will recognise the defensive slips and rectify them.
FULL TIME Manchester United 5 Bournemouth 2
Another win for Manchester United, the unbeaten run stretches to 16 matches and they move into fourth for now.
Bournemouth had taken a shock lead through Stanislas but United's devastatingly good attack pulled them back into it, with two goals from Greenwood, and one for Rashford, Martial (a stunner) and Fernandes (also a stunning freekick).
Defensively they did keep opening the door for their opponents and it could very nearly have been 3-3 had Danjuma not been offside. A tough defeat for relegation-threatened Bournemouth in so many ways.
90 mins+4 Manchester United 5 Bournemouth 2
How long ago does this feel like now for Bournemouth fans?
Meanwhile Fred tries to get his name on the scoresheet only for Ramsdale to claw away.
90 mins +2 Manchester United 5 Bournemouth 2
Good save Ramsdale! Pogba bends it towards the corner but it's not far enough across and the Bournemouth keeper leaps across to reach it. Shortly afterwards he has to keep out a long-ranging effort from Fernandes.
90 mins Manchester United 5 Bournemouth 2
Into stoppage time now as United swagger their way to the finish line. James wins a freekick after a shove in the back by Gosling.
Pogba wants a bit of this from 25 yards out.
88 mins Manchester United 5 Bournemouth 2
The hosts heading into fourth as things stand ahead of Chelsea's evening game against Watford, a game which Bournemouth fans will also be keeping a keen eye on.
84 mins Manchester United 5 Bournemouth 2
Chance! It should be 6-2. Fernandes this time with the defence splitting pass for Oghalo. He demonstrates his strength to hold off the tackle but then clips the ball wide.
It must be so enjoyable to be a forward playing with Fernandes and Pogba.
83 mins Manchester United 5 Bournemouth 2
Another Pogba special, this time over the top for Luke Shaw to scamper on to. It's too close to the keeper though with Ramsdale standing tall.
81 mins Manchester United 5 Bournemouth 2
Crucial tackle from Kelly on the edge of the box stops another United chance. Dan James is rapid but the Bournemouth defender showed an even quicker set of wheels there to get back and make the tackle.
80 mins Manchester United 5 Bournemouth 2
And final two changes for United. Martial off for Mata and Rashford off for Ighalo as OGS opts to give all of his devastatingly clinical front three an early finish.
79 mins Manchester United 5 Bournemouth 2
It's a sign of the attacking pedigree within the United ranks that Pogba has hardly got a mention today. But he's there again, threading a pass nonchalantly through to Martial in the box but he can't get his shot on target.
77 mins Manchester United 5 Bournemouth 2
Fifth and final change for Bournemouth as Stacey comes on for Smith. Bournemouth still trying to plug away but it's mostly United defensive lapses that open the door slightly. How different could this match have been if Danjuma's equaliser had not been ruled as offside for 3-3?
75 mins Manchester United 5 Bournemouth 2
No hat-trick for Mason Greenwood today as he goes off for Dan James. You can just imagine the Old Trafford applause he would have received for that two-goal performance.
72 mins Manchester United 5 Bournemouth 2
A period of play with no goals scored, offside or otherwise...
The hosts win a corner after a deflected shot from Martial. The delivery from Fernandes is met by King who balloons the ball into the arms of his grateful keeper.
69 mins Manchester United 5 Bournemouth 2
A chance for us all to catch our breath during the drinks break.
66 mins Manchester United 5 Bournemouth 2
Gosling on for Solanke
Wilson on for Stanislas
Billing on for Cook
Fred on for Matic
65 mins Manchester United 5 Bournemouth 2
Disallowed goal! Great play United. Wan-Bissaka slides in the ball from the right which Rashford converts. His knee, however, just offside.
64 mins Manchester United 5 Bournemouth 2
Who needs trips to the pub eh? (puts on tin hat). This game has been jam-packed with entertainment.
16' Man Utd 0-1 Bournemouth— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) July 4, 2020
29' Man Utd 1-1 Bournemouth
35' Man Utd 2-1 Bournemouth
45' Man Utd 3-1 Bournemouth
49' Man Utd 3-2 Bournemouth
53' Man Utd 4-2 Bournemouth
58' Man Utd 5-2 Bournemouth
Goals galore at Old Trafford. pic.twitter.com/NCaDbrByIl
GOAL! Manchester United 5 (Fernandes 59 mins) Bournemouth 2
There was no shortage of players lining up to take this. Fernandes got the nod. And duly got in on the goal-scoring action with a sweet, sweet free-kick.
Hang on...var check for offside against Matic. Nope, nothing doing. Goal!!!!
58 mins Manchester United 4 Bournemouth 2
Freekick to United just outside the area after Kelly fouls Martial....
GOAL! Manchester United 4 (Greenwood 54 mins) Bournemouth 2
This match is action packed right now.
Minutes after Bournemouth almost equalised, now United score. With the ball pinging around the box, Greenwood decides to take matters into his own hands. Picking up the ball with his back to goal on the edge of the D, he moves to the right and then blasts into the top corner. This kid is special.
54 mins Manchester United 3 Bournemouth 2
Unsurprisingly our northern football correspondent is not impressed with the defending on show here
The defending in this game. Utterly non-existent— James Ducker (@TelegraphDucker) July 4, 2020
51 mins Manchester United 3 Bournemouth 2
Goal disallowed Bournemouth!
What a start to the second half! Bournemouth break three on three and Danjuma toe pokes past De Gea. But to the agony of Bournemouth fans, he was marginally offside.
GOAL! Manchester United 3 Bournemouth 2 (King 49 mins)
Bournemouth reduce the deficit as King side foots in.
So sloppy from United. It was Matic who the blame originally lays with following his careless pass back to Bailly who had to control with his shoulder/arm.
Awful start from United. Bailly, having come on at half-time, gives away a penalty after missing his header. Up steps Josh King...
Bournemouth are claiming a penalty for handball off Bailly which Mike Dean has given. We're off to var.
It's very close to see whether one, Bailly is inside the area and two, whether it is handball as it looks like top of the shoulder...
46 mins Manchester United 3 Bournemouth 1
Back underway as the rain hammers down.
What a start by Bournemouth! Maguire coughs up possession, Solanke bundles forward, eventually being stopped by a combination of red shirts before Danjuma hits the post!
Brooks off for Danjuma for Bournemouth
Bailly on for Lindelof for United
United's front three this season
Rashford: 20 goals, 8 assists
Greenwood: 16 goals, 5 assists
Martial: 20 goals, 6 assists
'Martial...top bin, bang'
HT Manchester United 3 Bournemouth 1
Turnaround complete. After a shock opening goal from Stanislas for Bournemouth, United didn't panic, instead putting faith in their attack which delivered in style with goals from Greenwood, Rashford and Martial. Very much damage limitation now for the visitors.
Not to denigrate United's attacking play but Bournemouth are utterly risible defensively. Hardly a new revelation but dearie me— James Ducker (@TelegraphDucker) July 4, 2020
GOAL! Manchester United 3 (Martial 45+3 mins )Bournemouth 1
Sensational from Martial! The sort of goal that looks better and better for every slow-mo replay. The Frenchman picks up the ball on the left edge of the penalty box and curls a sumptuous effort into the top right hand corner. Ramsdale had no chance. His 20th goal in all competitions this season.
43 mins Manchester United 2 Bournemouth 1
Fernandes is a player that just never appears rushed in anything he does. He opts to drop deeper to pick up the ball with Bournemouth packing the defence. Looks up and pings a long-range pass into the box for Luke Shaw who strikes the post. Wouldn't have counted anyway with the marauding defender offside.
40 mins Manchester United 2 Bournemouth 1
This has been far from the walk in the park many predicted. Bournemouth have been bright in attack at times. But United's attack possesses too much talent to be contained for long.
Mason Greenwood has done it again! 🤯— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) July 4, 2020
He has now scored in back-to-back Man Utd games for the third time this season across all competitions...
He's still just 18!
Bruno Fernandes with another assist 🔥 pic.twitter.com/izzXmEj3Te
36 mins Manchester United 2 Bournemouth 1
There's always a defensive blunder in that United defence as we've already seen in this match. But again De Gea, first with a poor pass out to Maguire, and then Maguire himself, almost tie themselves in knots. And it's only the linesman flag which stops Bournemouth equalising through the offside Solanke
GOAL! Manchester United 2 (Rashford 35 mins) Bournemouth 1
A few stuttering steps and then right-footed into the bottom corner. Ramsdale goes the right way but he cannot reach it.
United back in the driving seat.
Penalty Manchester United!
From the resulting corner, the ball initially comes out of the box but then gets floated back in where Smith handles. Dean hesitates to see if Maguire will follow up with his shot from the advantage but no. Penalty. Var confirms it and Rashford steps up...
32 mins Manchester United 1 Bournemouth 1
Lerma gets his name into Mike Dean's book after leaving a high boot in on Martial, who limps off momentarily.
Just over half an hour played so far and we're back all square. It's almost 2-1 United but Rashford's shot deflects out for a corner off Ake.
GOAL! Manchester United 1 (Greenwood 29 mins) Bournemouth 1
What a season this is turning into for Mason Greenwood. He gets his side back in the game with his 14th goal of the season and it's a powerful rocket of a shot.
Bournemouth claim a foul on Rico just inside their half but United break, out to Rashford on the right then Fernandes, in the middle, pokes the ball further across to the left where Greenwood is lurking just inside the box. He needs one touch to set himself before taking aim.
27 mins Manchester United 0 Bournemouth 1
Greenwood chastises himself after an over hit pass goes out of play. United still knocking on the door but Bournemouth holding firm for now with Stanislas a useful outlet down the left.
Bournemouth's opening goal
Junior Stanislas that is naughty! 🙊— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) July 4, 2020
The winger catches Harry Maguire with the nutmeg and smashes it De Gea.
What a way to grab your first of the season! pic.twitter.com/gduFNh96xJ
Stanislas has just had another sight of goal. It's not as good this time, far from it, as his shot from outside the box flies into the stands. And there's the first drinks break.
Be honest, no one saw this scoreline coming did they?
21 mins Manchester United 0 Bournemouth 1
Crucial block from Brooks as Shaw lines up to shoot from the edge of the box after the corner is only slightly cleared.
Ramsdale then scrambles quickly off his line to stop Greenwood.
20 mins Manchester United 0 Bournemouth 1
Defensive problems coming back to haunt United. They are smooth in attack but room for improvement at the back.
They have an attacking corner now though.
That goal was a calamity from a defensive point of view for United. Not quite as bad as the goal they conceded against Spurs but not far off. Bournemouth lead 1-0— James Ducker (@TelegraphDucker) July 4, 2020
18 mins Manchester United 0 Bournemouth 1
Pogba is fouled by King 25 yards from goal. It is Rashford who takes but Ramsdale soars to his right to make the save. Lindelof heads the corner over.
GOAL! Manchester United 0 Bournemouth 1 (Stanislas 16 mins)
Well well well. We have the first goal of the match. And it's to Bournemouth....
A series of defensive errors from United but well done for Stanislas for persevering when it looked like the chance had gone. The Cherries man reacts quickest when the ball rebounds towards the byline, he nutmegs Maguire far too easily and then fires past a flapping De Gea from a tight angle at the near post.
12 mins Manchester United 0 Bournemouth 0
Bournemouth camped on the edge of their box now and even when they do get the ball, they give it away quickly. It's going to be a long afternoon...
10 mins Manchester United 0 Bournemouth 0
Chance! Rashford floats the ball over the Cherries' defence and Fernandes is off after it. He gets there first but surprisingly, for a player in such form as he is, he lifts it both over Ramsdale but also the bar.
8 mins Manchester United 0 Bournemouth 0
Stanislas is Bournemouth's brightest attacking player so far, again down the left hand side. But there's hardly anyone to aim at in the box and the move breaks down.
At the other end, Pogba tries a chipped return pass to Greenwood into the box but the youngster not quite on the same wave length and didn't carry on the run.
6 mins Manchester United 0 Bournemouth 0
United's front three have 51 goals between them in all competitions this season. Bournemouth, meanwhile, can boast eight goals from the 10 starting outfit players today....
Bournemouth trying their luck down the left-hand side with some short, sharp passes. They win a throw in which Kelly launches into the box but its cleared.
3 mins Manchester United 0 Bournemouth 0
Fernandes with an early range finder, sweeping the ball out to the right hand side for Wan-Bissaka but the defender cannot quite get the ball under control and it goes out for a goal-kick.
Not a surprise that United starting on the front foot here.
2 mins Manchester United 0 Bournemouth 0
The home side showing some early confidence at the back as they pass themselves out of pressure. Bournemouth settle back down into their defensive shape.
Bournemouth get us underway
'You gotta fancy United by 3 or 4'
Robbie Savage, speaking on BT Sport, does not rate Bournemouth's chances. Neither does Rio Ferdinand. Or most other people for that matter.
KO minutes away
Players emerging onto the Old Trafford pitch for their final pre-match routines.
Eddie Howe on the mic
And in the interest of fairness, here is the Bournemouth boss...
We go to one of the toughest places in the Premier League. That in itself has to pick us up. These are tough games. We are going to need to rise to the challenge. We know we have to perform to the highest level.
I retain the belief and the players do. We need a bit of luck to land for us. We just need something to fall for us. Hopefully we can create that today.
On Steve Cook's absence after the defender said the team 'played like kids' in defeat to Newcastle
He's injured. There was no direct upset with what Cooky said. It was probably the way it came across. He's injured. We will miss him.
On top four ambitions
It's nice to have a shot at the top four, that's what we are fighting for, we want to get to the Champions League next year. We just need to win one game at a time, the boys have been good at focusing on the task in hand.
On Pogba/Fernandes injury rumours circulating last night
That's just part and parcel of being here, always speculation and stories
We have spoken about it, the next five games are against teams we have lost points against. We have got a point to prove.
All over at Carrow Road
Very much an air of resignation now in East Anglia as bottom side Norwich lose 1-0 to Brighton in the early kick-off. Doesn't change a great deal for Bournemouth who are six points better off than Norwich although Brighton pull nine points clear of the bottom three. Safety cushion.
Treble switch for Bournemouth
Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe makes three changes from the side humbled 4-1 by Newcastle on Wednesday, with Diego Rico, Junior Stanislas and Lewis Cook brought in.
🚨 TEAM NEWS 🚨— AFC Bournemouth (@afcbournemouth) July 4, 2020
🔺 Minor hamstring injury for S. Cook
🔺 Kelly moves across to centre-back
🔺 Rico comes in at left-back
Here's how we line up for today's @premierleague game at Old Trafford. #MUNBOU // #afcb 🍒 pic.twitter.com/NIb4LnrXDa
No changes by OGS
There had been speculation over the fitness of Bruno Fernandes and Paul Pogba but both are fit to start and continue their midfield partnership
Team news is out
Manchester United: de Gea, Wan Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Shaw, Pogba, Matic, Greenwood, Bruno Fernandes, Rashford, Martial.
Subs: Bailly, Mata, Andreas Pereira, Fred, James, Romero, Ighalo, McTominay, Williams.
AFC Bournemouth: Ramsdale, Smith, Ake, Kelly, Rico, Brooks, Lewis Cook, Lerma, Stanislas, King, Solanke.
Subs: Boruc, Gosling, Surman, Danjuma, Stacey, Harry Wilson, Billing, Travers, Surridge.
Referee: Mike Dean (Wirral)
Tough afternoon ahead for Bournemouth?
A match up between two teams experiencing completely contrasting fortunes since the Premier League restarted. One scoring for fun and yet to taste defeat. The other stuck firmly in reverse gear, struggling to get the engine going after a long time static on the sidelines. That said, Bournemouth were not exactly going great guns before the coronavirus-enforced break either but a trip to Old Trafford to face an in-form Manchester United side will be the last thing they would want, especially with leading goalscorer Callum Wilson unavailable as he completes a two-match suspension.
Stranger things have happened - and United are not averse to chucking in an awful performance, let's not forget - but this could be a fill your boots kind of day for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's team.
United's 15-match unbeaten run in all competitions (W11, D4) is their longest since a streak of 17 games without defeat between November 2016 and January 2017 while they are unbeaten at home against Bournemouth in all competitions, winning seven and drawing one.
They're also looking to win four consecutive home league matches without conceding for the first time since a run of six ending in October 2017 and can keep a clean sheet in six successive home fixtures in all competitions for the first time since October to December 2015.
Saying all that....Bournemouth are vying to complete their first league double over Manchester United following a 1-0 victory at home in November. Although November is a very, very long time ago, especially for Bournemouth fans.
Eddie Howe's side are enduring a run of seven straight away defeats in the league and haven't scored a league goal from open play in five hours and 51 minutes. An unrivalled 53% of their 30 goals this season have come via set pieces.
That's the scene setter, let's get some team news...