Bournemouth 2 Manchester United 2

Saturday 13 April 2024 19:40

Manchester United were held to a 2-2 draw for the second consecutive weekend in the Premier League, as Bruno Fernandes netted an equaliser in each half to peg back Bournemouth at the Vitality Stadium.

Fernandes' first goal, assisted by Alejandro Garnacho just after the half-hour mark, cancelled out Dominic Solanke's 16th-minute opener. And after Justin Kluivert restored the home side's lead for the break, the Reds' Portuguese captain popped up in the second period to net a penalty.

A spot-kick was awarded for the second time in the game when referee Tony Harrington pointed to the spot in United's area but Bournemouth's hopes of snatching a late, late win were dashed when a lengthy VAR check downgraded it to an indirect free-kick just outside the box.

Erik ten Hag's side went into the game in seventh place, after dropping below Newcastle United - 4-0 victors over fifth-placed Tottenham Hotspur in the lunchtime kick-off - and remained there after being unable to complete the comeback with another winning goal.

The home side, who stunned Old Trafford in December with a shock 3-0 victory as the visitors, were threatening to inflict a double over United from the first whistle. Andoni Iraola's side dominated possession and pushed high up the pitch, particularly on the left flank where lively winger Luis Sinisterra and proactive full-back Milos Kerkez attacked the space between Alejandro Garnacho and Diogo Dalot.

Garnacho was further forward, close to the halfway line, when Bournemouth pinched possession to launch their first fruitful foray into United's defensive third. Marcos Senesi played a simple pass through to Solanke and when Willy Kambwala, who had otherwise started the game solidly, unfortunately lost his footing on the turf, the Cherries' top scorer had enough space to fire past Andre Onana and give his side the lead.

A fleet-footed Marcus Rashford almost equalised just three minutes later, throwing a defender or two off balance with a weaving run that just took him too wide to do better than smash the ball into the side netting. That at least provided some brief respite for the Reds' rearguard who were under the cosh again when Sinisterra's daisycutter flashed across goal, Ryan Christie's rising shot cleared the crossbar and then the same player's more accurate attempt went straight at Onana.

Not for the first time this season, Fernandes rode to United's rescue, finding a way to give his side parity in the contest, arguably against the run of play. Garnacho's pullback from the right clipped off a defender inside the six-yard box, enabling the captain to lash a left-footed volley into the roof of Neto's net.
As the open encounter ensued, Solanke slipped the ball to Dango Ouatarra and despite the close attentions of Aaron Wan-Bissaka, the no.11 still got his shot off, albeit with the same outcome as Sinisterra's earlier effort, whistling just wide of the far post. 

Bournemouth would not have to wait too much longer to regain the lead, however, and again they attacked the right side of United's defence with freedom. Justin Kluivert had more time than he would have expected inside the Reds' penalty area as he sized up his finish and lashed home to the left of Onana's despairing dive.

Shortly before the break, Kerkez spurned a double opportunity to extend his side's lead. This time, the raid was built on the right and when the delivery found Bournemouth's no.3 on the edge of the six-yard box, he bounced his first free header down into the turf and up on to Onana's crossbar, before awkwardly nodding the rebound over the top. 

It should have been 3-1 then, and again when the unmarked Kluivert's close-range volley was denied by a breathtaking Onana save.  But after nine minutes of stoppage time, largely added for repairs to referee Tony Harrington's communications device, the Reds trooped off to face Ten Hag's rousing team talk with only a one-goal deficit to claw back. In fact, United's position would have been even better - on level terms at 2-2 - had Fernandes's dipping effort in open play been an inch or two lower instead of clipping the bar in the final incident of an extended first period.

Ten Hag made his first substitution for the restart with Amad, who spent most of the interval warming up, coming on for Garnacho as United's right winger.

The Ivory Coast international arrived in an encounter that was noticeably different in its second 45 minutes, more even in terms of possession and falling short of the first half's attacking intensity at both ends of the pitch. Mercifully, Onana had much less to do, with Kambwala and Harry Maguire working hard to close down the Cherries and block shots at the edge of the area.

A stronger foothold in the proceedings eventually provided a platform for United to equalise for the second time in the game. Six days after his wonder-goal put the Reds in front against Liverpool, Kobbie Mainoo shaped to shoot from a similar position on the pitch. But instead of nestling in the top-right corner again, this time the midfielder's powerful effort struck one defender and then ricocheted into the arm of another, Adam Smith.

The veteran right-back pleaded his case but VAR declined to overrule referee Harrington's on-field decision. Shrugging off the boos of a bemused Bournemouth faithful, Fernandes coolly stepped up and slotted his spot-kick low to the right with Neto heading left. 2-2 in the 65th minute.
Bruno seizes the ball after his penalty made it 2-2.
It seemed the stage was set for another comeback victory by United but instead, we escaped more injury-time angst on the road following the recent last-gasp draw at Brentford and even more dramatic defeat at Chelsea. When Christie's run into the box was halted at its edge by Kambwala, referee Harrington awarded the hosts a penalty.

TV replays suggested the contact was made outside the area and fortunately for United, the VAR agreed. Instead of having the chance to win the game with a spot-kick. Bournemouth had an indirect free-kick inside the D. It was still close enough to Onana's goal to cause some fatal damage but Turkey international Enes Unal was unable to score when teed up, thwarted by yet another United block. It meant both sides had to frustratingly settle for a point. 

Highlights: Bournemouth v United Video

Highlights: Bournemouth v United

Watch the key moments from our trip to face the Cherries...

Ten Hag: A draw is not good enough Video

Ten Hag: A draw is not good enough

Erik ten Hag says the Reds must take the point earned at Bournemouth, but rues United's first-half performance...

Dalot: We are disappointed Video

Dalot: We are disappointed

Diogo says we must take solace from our hunger to come from behind, despite settling for a draw at Bournemouth...

Ten Hag's post-match press conference Video

Ten Hag's post-match press conference

Erik discusses Alejandro Garnacho, Harry Maguire and more after our draw at Bournemouth...


Bournemouth: Neto (c); Smith (Aarons 70), Zabarnyi, Senesi, Kerkez; Cook, Christie; Sinisterra (Kelly 39), Kluivert (Unal 76), Ouattara (Faivre 70); Solanke.

Travers, Hill, Billing, Dacosta Gonzalez, Scott.

Bookings: Senesi, Cook, Christie, Neto.

Goals: Solanke 16, Kluivert 36.

Onana; Dalot, Kambwala, Maguire, Wan-Bissaka; Mainoo (Mount 78), Casemiro; Garnacho (Amad 46), Fernandes (c), Rashford; Hojlund.

Substitutes: Bayindir, Amass, Ogunneye, Amrabat, Eriksen, Forson, Wheatley.

Bookings: None.

Goals: Fernandes 31, 65 pen.