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The Jose Mourinho era at Manchester United started off with a 3-1 win over Bournemouth in their Premier League opener on Sunday at Vitality Stadium. The Red Devils got off to a sluggish start but showed in the second half that fans should be optimistic going forward.
United took control of the match right from the start, dominating possession while Bournemouth dropped deep in an attempt to avoid an early goal. It was clear that the home side were content with sitting back and let United dictate the tempo and then try to hit them on the counter attack.
At first it looked eerily similar to what we saw last season under Louis van Gaal, with United passing the ball back and forth like they were on a power play in hockey, but without creating any real dangerous chances. They got a lucky break in the 40th minute as Juan Mata forced a Bournemouth defender to make a couple of mistakes and rolled the ball into the back of the net from close range.
In the second half, United kicked things into second gear and looked much more threatening going forward. Zlatan Ibrahimovic had dropped down to gather the ball on way too many occasions in the opening 45 minutes, but the big Swede showed several glimpses in the second half why he’s considered to be one of the best strikers in the world. Ibrahimovic set up Wayne Rooney with a beautiful backheel pass by the captain failed to convert as Artur Boruc came out to smother the ball.
Rooney, who once again played in the No. 10 role, got on the scoresheet in the 59th minute as he got his head on a mishit by Anthony Martial from inside the penalty area to guide the ball past Boruc who was unable to get a hand to it.
Ibrahimovic then made it 3-0 in the 64th minute with a long range effort that trickled in behind Boruc. The Swede has now scored on his debut game in the Champions League, Serie A, La Liga, Ligue 1 and the Premier League. Ibrahimovic was happy to get a debut goal, but added that the most important thing was to get the win and the three points.
“I try to do my job and help my team-mates,” Ibrahimovic said. “The first objective is to win. The second, if I can score in a game like that, is also good, but whoever scores helps the team.
“If it’s me, Wayne [Rooney] or someone else, it’s the same importance like if I would score. For me the victory is the most important. Whoever scores is a bonus.”
Zlatan Ibrahimovic has now scored on his PL, Serie A, La Liga, Ligue 1 and Champions League debut. 3-0 United pic.twitter.com/HNSZxIqbQi
— Semperfiunited (@SemperFiUnited) August 14, 2016
Bournemouth did pull one back through Adam Smith, but there was no worry that United would let the lead slip. It ended up being a comfortable afternoon for the Red Devils. The players still look like they have some time to go before they are all in peak match form, but it was a good start, and it was an added bonus that Ibrahimovic got to score on his debut to follow up the game-winning goal against Leicester in the Community Shield last weekend.
The result gives Mourinho and his side something to build on and will give them a positive feeling ahead of their first home game of the season against Southampton on Friday at Old Trafford.