Goalscorers: Junior Stanislas 2, Marouane Fellaini 24, Josh King 54
AFC Bournemouth: Artur Boruc, Steve Cook, Charlie Daniels, Simon Francis, Adam Smith, Harry Arter (Eunan O’Kane 86), Andrew Surman, Dan Gosling, Matt Ritchie, Junior Stanislas, Josh King (Glenn Murray 65)
Manchester United: David de Gea, Cameron Borthwick-Jackson, Daley Blind, Paddy McNair (Phil Jones 90), Guillermo Varela, Michael Carrick, Marouane Fellaini (Nick Powell 74), Jesse Lingard (Andreas Pereira 31), Juan Mata, Anthony Martial, Memphis Depay
Referee: Anthony Taylor, Attendance: 11,334
Confidence was seeping through the AFC Bournemouth squad ahead of this fixture in December 2015. Eddie Howe’s side had shown tremendous resilience to rescue a 3-3 home draw with Everton a fortnight earlier before pushing Jose Mourinho closer to the exit door at Chelsea with a surprise win at Stamford Bridge.
They still weren’t fancied to get a result against a wounded Manchester United. They were bound to exact some kind of reaction to their dismal exit from the group stages of the UEFA Champions League in midweek to Bundesliga side VfL Wolfsburg. Louis van Gaal was hamstrung by injuries to several of his key players, including Chris Smalling, Antonio Valencia and Wayne Rooney.
Bournemouth were keen to make a fast start and with a bit of help from the windy conditions on the south coast, they took the lead inside two minutes. Junior Stanislas took a corner which curled directly into the back of the net. It was his third goal in two matches and all the Bournemouth players immediately ran towards midfielder Harry Arter, who was playing just days after his partner lost their child at birth. All of Bournemouth’s players wore black armbands as a mark of respect and this showed their terrific team unity for a teammate’s personal grief.
Question marks for the opening goal would be aimed at David de Gea. The usually reliable Spaniard had completely misjudged Stanislas’ corner and whilst Anthony Martial’s lack of intent in helping out at the far post didn’t help, De Gea didn’t need anyone to tell him he shouldn’t have been beaten directly from a corner.
Manchester United equalised in the 24th minute. Belgian midfielder Marouane Fellaini scored a scruffy goal from close-range. To show the lack of finishing edge from Van Gaal’s side, it was just their sixth Premier League goal in their last seven outings. The out-of-form Martial squandered two great opportunities to hand the Red Devils the lead and his wastefulness would cost his team dear in the second half. From another set-piece, Bournemouth regained their lead. Matt Ritchie played a corner across the box and no defender took responsibility to mark Josh King. His half-volley had an awkward look to it but it nestled in the bottom corner and the Cherries were back infront.
This time, there was no response. Fellaini looked despondent when he was replaced for youngster Nick Powell in the 74th minute and the scoreline could have been even greater if the hero of Stamford Bridge, Glenn Murray, taken two late opportunities of his own.
This result compounded a miserable week for everyone connected with Manchester United and Van Gaal was about to face serious questions about his job. For Howe, the sky was the limit and these unexpected back-to-back successes spearheaded the Cherries clear of the bottom three. They would finish 16th in their debut Premier League campaign.