Manchester United welcomed relegation threatened Bournemouth to the beautifully presented Old Trafford in what was United’s third league game back since the sport resumed last month.
The Reds, in fine form, were looking to extend their impressive unbeaten run to 16-games in all competitions as they sought to break into the top-four for the first time since 2019.
Despite much pre-match speculation, manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer opted to name an unchanged side from the one which beat Brighton and Hove Albion midweek in an emphatic 3-0 victory.
Shortly after referee Mike Dean blew the whistle to kick the game off, United appeared to be looking to set the tone of the game with the Reds pressing forward as their opposition remained in a solid defensive shape.
However, to United’s surprise it was to be the south coast side who took the lead after just 16-minutes. Junior Stanislas managed to wriggle his way into the box and squeeze the ball past United number-one David De Gea’s near-post.
On the back-foot early-on, United’s intention to bounce back became apparent, the Reds trailed for just 13-minutes before young superstar Mason Greenwood levelled the game just shy of the half-hour mark. The talented youth smashed home a rocket of a strike which saw Cherries keeper Aaron Ramsdale well-beaten.
Having evened the score board up Solskjaer’s United were looking to take the lead for the first time in the match and they didn’t have to wait long.
Just six-minutes after Greenwood’s stunning effort VAR deemed it that Bournemouth full-back Adam Smith had handled the ball in the box awarding United with a penalty and a chance to get themselves in front.
Usual penalty taker Bruno Fernandes relinquished his spot duties and gifted team-mate Marcus Rashford an opportunity to end his minor goal-drought. The 22-year old English international gladly accepted as he tucked the spot-kick away in cool fashion. 2-1 United.
As the Reds looked set to head into half-time 2-1 up, French forward Anthony Martial had other ideas.
The ever-composed striker decided that the 47th minute was a perfect time to curl a stunning strike into the back of the net from the edge of the box, extending his side’s lead to 3-1.
As Referee Dean kicked-off the second-half, fans were introduced to a like-for-like switch as starting centre-back Victor Lindelof made way for Eric Bailly.
It didn’t take Bailly long to make his presence in the game known as the Ivorian found himself at the centre of a contentious VAR penalty decision.
The officials at Stockley Park decided that Bailly had handled the ball inside of the box although, on the face of it, it did appear that the ball had struck his upper shoulder. The decision was upheld as ex-United youth striker Josh King struck it past De Gea to reduce United’s lead to 3-2.
Undeterred by the Cherries threat to get back into the game, just five-minutes after Bournemouth’s penalty, youngster Greenwood decided to remind fans what he was capable of, incase they’d forgotten the first-half, of course.
The exciting prospect smashed home his second in what was a stunning solo effort finished off by a rocket of a right-footed shot. 4-2 United!
With six goals already scored at Old Trafford the United faithful didn’t have to wait long for a seventh.
It wouldn’t have been a United game without ‘Portuguese Magnifico’ Bruno Fernandes getting in-amongst the scoring. The popular midfielder stepped forward to take a free-kick right on the edge of the Bournemouth box which he smashed home in emphatic fashion. 5-2 United with half an hour still to go.
United’s desire to add more goals to their impressive tally did not fade; the Reds remained a constant threat going forward as they hunted a sixth.
It was to be the 67th-minute when Solskjaer opted to make his second change of the game when he introduced Brazillian Fred in place of cultured anchor man Nemanja Matic.
Just eight-minutes later Solskjaer decided the game was too far out of Bournemouth’s reach and opted to give star-man Greenwood a well-deserved rest as the Englishman was replaced by Daniel James.
James’ introduction added insult to injury to the Bournemouth back-line as the electrically paced Welsh-winger looked determined to chase every loose ball down.
A few minutes later and forwards Martial and Rashford followed Greenwood to the bench as they were replaced by Juan Mata and Odion Ighalo respectively.
Cult-hero Ighalo perhaps should have added his name to the long-list of United scorers as he latched onto an inch-perfect through-ball by Fernandes. The Nigerian striker was unable to steer his effort beyond keeper Ramsdale and was instead forced to watch it go agonisingly just wide of the post.
As the game came to an end in what was a thoroughly exciting display of attacking and free-flowing football from Solskjaer’s United it is becoming increasingly more difficult not to feel giddy by this youthful and fearless side.
Overall, United put in another display which was reminiscent of Sir Alex Ferguson’s era and reminded fans that times of old may not be that far away once again.
With a front-three who are up there among Europe’s most prolific strike-forces backed up by creative master-mind Fernandes and world-class complete midfielder Paul Pogba, the future really does seem bright for United’s young rising stars.
The Reds, having successfully extended their unbeaten run to a mammoth 16-games in all competitions will now be looking ahead to Thursday’s Premier League match against Jack Grealish’s struggling Aston Villa.
Villa host United in yet another crucial league tie which could prove decisive in where both team’s play their football next season. The match kicks-off at 20:15 BST on July 9.