Manchester United 1-0 AFC Bournemouth: Lukaku winner fends off superior Cherries

Manchester United returned to winning ways in the Premier League on Wednesday night, thanks to a Romelu Lukaku first half header.

Manchester United 1-0 AFC Bournemouth: Lukaku winner fends off superior Cherries
Credit: Catherine Ivill (Getty Images)
Manchester United
1 0
AFC Bournemouth
Manchester United: de Gea; Valencia, Smalling, Jones, Shaw (Young, min. 84); McTominay, Matić; Mata, Lingard (Herrera, min. 70), Martial (Rashford, min. 66); Lukaku.
AFC Bournemouth: Begovic; Smith, Francis, Aké, Daniels; Stanislas, Gosling (Cook, min. 77), Arter, Fraser; King (Afobe, min. 70); Wilson (Defoe, min. 70).
SCORE: 1-0, min. 26, Lukaku.
REFEREE: Graham Scott. Yellows: Lukaku (min. 42), Stanislas (min. 48), Arter (min. 64).
INCIDENTS: Premier League match between Manchester United and AFC Bournemouth at Old Trafford.

Romelu Lukaku scored the only goal on a freezing cold night at Old Trafford as Manchester United beat AFC Bournemouth 1-0 to consolidate second place in the Premier League.

Snow terrorised the 175th Manchester derby on Sunday evening, and this time it was endless sleet soaking every part of the stadium ahead of kick-off, as it was revealed both managers had rung the changes.

José Mourinho swapped Marcos Rojo and Marcus Rashford with Phil Jones and Juan Mata, as well as handing Luke Shaw and Scott McTominay first Premier League starts of the season at the expense of Ashley Young and Ander Herrera.

Eddie Howe also made four alterations; Adam Smith, Dan Gosling, Harry Arter and Callum Wilson came in for Steve Cook, Lewis Cook, Andrew Surman and Jermaine Defoe respectively - the latter a surprise exclusion following his brace at Crystal Palace on Saturday.

Bournemouth start off as the better team

Neither team took control in the early stages - the hosts were struggling to string passes together while Bournemouth looked dangerous on the break using Joshua King and Ryan Fraser as their main creative outlets.

As the game reached the 20-minute mark, Manchester United started to show attacking intent after gaining a general foothold in the midfield, which tends to happen once Juan Mata settles down.

It was the visitors who continued to look the most likely to score though. Phil Jones had to stand his ground and block well after Callum Wilson was sent through on goal with only the centre-back to beat.

That was before David de Gea had to get down low to divert Charlie Daniels' audacious effort away from his goal after the left-back marauded forward from the defence unchallenged.

David de Gea was forced into action again shortly afterwards - at this point, it looked certain that The Cherries would open the scoring - when a penalty box scramble led to Dan Gosling, who stepped inside Luke Shaw and fired straight at the Spanish goalkeeper.

Lukaku back in the Premier League goals

Despite the rising pressure being applied by AFC Bournemouth, it was the home side who took the lead through Romelu Lukaku in the 26th minute.

It came as no surprise that the goal was created by Juan Mata, who lofted a delicate ball towards Lukaku from the right flank, and the Belgian striker out-jumped both Nathan Aké and Charlie Daniels to head in United's first effort on target.

The visitors responded well to going down as Junior Stanislas burst forward and cannoned a low attempt goalwards, however, David de Gea was once again level to it and palmed it clear.

Bournemouth could've, and probably should've, drawn level on 33 minutes when defender Simon Francis came up with, well, a defender's finish from 15 yards out after a Lukaku's clearance from a corner fell kindly to him at a tight angle.

The goalscorer was the first man to be shown a booking after leaning on Harry Arter as the midfielder looked to sharply turn and get away on the attack near the half-way line.

United hold on for big win

Manchester United enjoyed the best of the possession at the start of the second period, but limited end product remained on show

Anxiety was unsurprisingly lingering amongst the home fans, considering Bournemouth had scored at least once in every Premier League game against the Reds prior to this clash.

That anxiety would've been lifted if Anthony Martial managed to put the ball into an open net from five yards out on the hour mark, instead of blasting it high over the crossbar.

Callum Wilson messed up his header back to Asmir Begovic and Romelu Lukaku took advantage, forcing the ex-Chelsea goalkeeper into a save which directed the ball to the feet of Martial who was completely unhassled.

The young French forward was replaced by Marcus Rashford minutes later, surely leaving the field pondering how he hadn't extended his 2017-18 Premier League goals tally to five.

Eddie Howe made changes of his own with 20 minutes left as the away side searched for an arguably deserved equaliser - Jermaine Defoe and Benik Afobe came on for Joshua King and Callum Wilson.

Substitute Rashford was inches away from giving us one of the great Old Trafford goals in the 72nd minute when he picked up the ball 30 yards out, cut inside and rocketed an effort that swerved all over the shop onto the crossbar - Begovic was rooted to the spot.

Jermaine Defoe was causing the United back line problems in the final 10 minutes as Bournemouth desperately searched for the equaliser they so very craved, put resilient work from the home defenders and David de Gea was proving to be too much to break down.

Luke Shaw came off to a resounding standing ovation as he was replaced by Ashley Young in José Mourinho's final switch - a moment would've, without a doubt, done wonders for his confidence after another good showing since returning from injury.

It was backs against the wall for the hosts in the final moments as The Cherries looked nailed on to find a goal, but it wasn't to be and the full-time whistle saved United's blushes.

Things don't get easier for the visitors

Next up for Manchester United, a trip to The Hawthorns on Sunday to face a West Bromwich Albion side without a win in their last 16 games in all competitions.

Meanwhile, things don't get any easier for AFC Bournemouth, who are also in action on Sunday when they host Jürgen Klopp's Liverpool at the Vitality Stadium.