Manchester United left it late at the Vitality Stadium as second-half substitute Marcus Rashford struck in injury time to give the Reds a 2-1 victory over Bournemouth.
Rashford’s goal, three days after his 21st birthday, was the decisive moment in the match after Anthony Martial’s equaliser ten minutes before half-time had cancelled out Callum Wilson’s effort.
United are now unbeaten in four Premier League games and were good value for the three points after a strong second-half showing that also featured captain Ashley Young rattling the crossbar with a free-kick and Paul Pogba and Rashford both having efforts on the rebound blocked or cleared.
Ahead of kick-off, the stadium fell silent out of respect for the victims of last week’s helicopter crash at Leicester City, and The Last Post was played to mark Bournemouth’s closest home match before Remembrance Sunday. Following this sombre period of reflection by both sets of fans, the crowd roared into life as the contest commenced.
The first chance fell to the home side in the opening minutes when a trademark Bournemouth counter attack found its way to Ryan Fraser, who perhaps took a heavy touch wide as he bared down on David De Gea’s goal. Although the Scotsman’s shot was on target, it was comfortably saved.
Shortly afterwards, we saw a glimpse of the threat that United’s altered attack had to offer, as Paul Pogba attempted to find the returning Alexis with a ball in behind the Bournemouth defence. Simon Francis was on hand to clear for a corner, preventing what would have been a one-on-one for the Reds’ no.7.
It was the Cherries who looked more menacing, however, with both Callum Wilson and Junior Stanislas having chances from inside the area. The first for Wilson was saved by De Gea, before Stanislas’ effort was deflected behind.
The resulting corner was not a particularly dangerous one from Stanislas but following a clearance, his second attempt to put the ball in was lethal – a low cross met by the in-form striker Wilson who dispatched from close range.
The pressure on the United defence seemed unrelenting shortly after the goal, with De Gea left watching as a ball in from Adam Smith found its way through a crowd of players, but thankfully trickled wide. The home fans were then appealing for a penalty after David Brooks went down while challenging for a header with Luke Shaw, but referee Paul Tierney was unmoved by the cries for a spot-kick.
As the half wore on, United grew stronger and were back on level terms ten minutes before half-time when Martial put away his fifth goal in four Premier League appearances. The Frenchman’s run was picked out by Alexis and unmarked in the area, he produced a first-time finish which wrong-footed Asmir Begovic in the Bournemouth goal.
The Reds were fired up and full of attacking intent after the break, but it was Bournemouth again who had the first chance of the half, through David Brooks with a neat flick inside the six-yard-box which De Gea just managed to gather.
United then had a flurry of opportunities to worry the home side. First Martial looked as if he could have been in for a second goal after being played through by Juan Mata, only for Begovic to come charging out of his area to clear, before Luke Shaw and Alexis both had chances saved by the Cherries stopper.
The Reds’ barrage continued as Ashley Young was brought down by Stanislas just outside the Bournemouth box. The fouled player took the resulting set piece himself and was desperately unlucky not to find the net. He instead rattled the crossbar, with the rebound dropping to substitute Marcus Rashford, who had his shot blocked by Nathan Ake, before Pogba had an effort cleared off the line by Brooks.
Ake almost put his side in trouble later on as he attempted to clear Ander Herrera’s driven cross. The Dutchman’s miskick heading towards goal before it was pounced on by Begovic.
The home side had a chance to win it themselves in the last ten minutes as Brooks went one-on-one with De Gea, but his shot was right at the Spaniard who saved easily.
With four minutes added on, the match could still have gone either way and it was to be United’s victory as Pogba crossed low and hard from the left and Rashford kept his composure when the ball bounced up inside the six-yard box to bury it in the net and send the travelling fans wild.
Bournemouth: Begovic; Smith, Ake, S. Cook, Francis, Fraser (Ibe 74), Lerma, L. Cook (Gosling 68), Stanislas (Surman 91); Brookes, Wilson.
Subs not used: Boruc, Daniels, Mousset, Defoe.
Booked: Lerma, Stanislas, Wilson.
Scorer: Wilson 11.
United: De Gea; Young (c), Lindelof, Smalling, Shaw; Matic, Fred (Herrera 56), Pogba; Mata (Rashford 56), Alexis (Lingard 78), Martial.
Subs not used: Romero, Darmian, Jones, McTominay.
Booked: Shaw, Young, Rashford.
Scorers: Martial 35, Rashford 93.