Manchester United 4 Bournemouth 1
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s barnstorming Manchester United attacking machine sent the Reds into 2019 with another goal fest as the Reds hammered Bournemouth 4-1 at Old Trafford.
United were celebrating New Year early as the Norwegian caretaker manager’s influence saw the Reds add to big wins against Cardiff City and Huddersfield Town to make it 12 goals in his first three Premier League victories in charge.
The Reds' sizzling win was inspired by an impressive goalscoring and creating personal performance from Paul Pogba. He scored twice in the first 45 minutes, to make it four for himself in the Solskjaer era so far, and set up a second-half strike for substitute Romelu Lukaku.
Marcus Rashford also scored but there was a setback for United as Eric Bailly, making his first start for the interim boss, was red carded in the second period.
Solskjaer’s impact had been instant at the beginning of his caretaker reign, against Cardiff pre-Christmas when Marcus Rashford got the Reds off to a rapid start in Wales.
The value of a swift opener had been a rarity for Unted but once again against Bournemouth it was another burst out of the blocks that set Old Trafford alight. Rashford was involved once more, this time with a glorious assist.
The Mancunian is being used more now as a central striker but it was a piece of eye-catching wing trickery that had the crowd on their feet after just five minutes. His lightning footwork bamboozled both Nathan Ake and Diego Rico right under the noses of the Stretford End and Rashford’s cross was seized upon by Paul Pogba as he sprinted in to slide home the first goal.
Old Trafford was rocking to the whole back catalogue of Solskjaer chants as the Reds enjoyed a spell of dominance.
Bournemouth may have been trounced at Wembley on Boxing Day 5-0 by Spurs but they were adventurous and provided a danger on the counter attack. They could have levelled the game in the 26th minute but for yet another brilliant reaction save from David De Gea who managed to block a header from Ake.
But United were relentless going forward and were rewarded again in the 33rd minute when Pogba stretched the lead as he scored his second of the match.
Ander Herrera provided the assist as his floated cross was met with the powerful header by the Frenchman on the edge six-yard area.
Rashford had been a thorn in Bournemouth’s side with his pace, constantly unsettling Eddie Howe’s back line. He got himself onto the scoresheet in the 45th minute. The striker lunged and stretched onto a cute cross delivered by the outside of Martial's right boot and connected at the far post to make it 3-0.
The only thing missing from Solskjaer’s reign has been a clean sheet and just as the Reds were heading into the interval intact, Bournemouth pulled a shock goal back. Defender Ake, who had already been denied once by De Gea, made sure on the second occasion as he headed home from close range.
It was the only blemish on another crowd-pleasing festive half from United.
United were in full swagger mode after the break with Pogba, in particular, dipping into his box of treats.
The influential midfielder was part of a sweeping Reds move in the 65th minute started by Nemanja Matic, helped on by Pogba, only for Asmir Begovic to throw himself at Rashford’s feet as he attempted to swerve past the goalkeeper.
Not long after Solskjaer made his first substitution of the match and it was a fully deserved standing ovation for the terrific Rashford as he was replaced by Romelu Lukaku.
It proved to be an inspired switch by the United caretaker boss because less than two minutes later the Belgian was on the scoresheet. Pogba’s impressive afternoon continued as he lifted a pass into Lukaku’s path and the sub managed to steer the ball home.
Pogba almost got his hat-trick but soon after Lukaku's goal he rapped a shot against the woodwork as the rampant Reds continued to entertain the fans
United were coasting and it was all going smoothly until Eric Bailly was sent off in the 79th minute as the Ivorian launched a scything straight-red tackle on sub Ryan Fraser.
Solskjaer had been preparing to bring on Marouane Fellaini at that point with the Belgian midfielder stripped and ready on the touchline to come on.
However, Bailly’s exit changed the substitution and Phil Jones instead replaced Martial.
Even when reduced to en men, United still eased through the rest of the game to the final whistle to keep the feelgood factor going.
United: De Gea, Young (c), Lindelof, Bailly, Shaw, Matic, Herrera (A Pereira,75), Pogba, Lingard, Martial (Jones 81) Rashford (Lukaku 70)
Subs not used: Romero, Fellaini, Mata, Fellaini, Darmian
Bookings: Young, Herrera
Sent off: Bailly (79)
Scorers: Pogba (5, 33), Rashford (45), Lukaku (72)
Bournemouth: Begovic, Cook, Ake, Surman (c) (Mings 81), Ibe, Daniels, Wilson (Fraser 66), King, Stanislas, Brooks (Mousset 66), Rico
Subs not used: Boruc, Lerma, Defoe, Simpson
Scorer: Ake (45+1)
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