Bournemouth 0-1 Man United: Casemiro’s acrobatic volley moves the Red Devils to the brink of a top-four finish after hard-fought win on the south coast
- Casemiro put Man United in front with an acrobatic volley in the ninth minute
- United had further chances to kill the game off but could not add to their tally
- They now need just one point from their last two games to seal a top-four finish
Ever since he walked through the door at Manchester United last summer, the top-four was Erik ten Hag’s primary target.
The Carabao Cup was a nice bonus, and the FA Cup would be even nicer when United return to Wembley next month. But Champions League qualification always top of the list.
It was a basic requirement, to be fair, and one that has looked in some doubt these past few weeks as United have wobbled and Liverpool have put together an end-of-season spurt.
But here in the South Coast sunshine, Ten Hag moved a step closer to getting his hands on the No.1 prize. United’s victory over Bournemouth and Liverpool’s draw at home to Aston Villa means that one point from the last two games against Chelsea and Fulham will be enough for a Champions League place.
It might seem like scant consolation when Manchester City are through to the final against Inter Milan and chasing a Treble, but it was always going to be about small steps with Ten Hag. He wasn’t foolish enough to over-promise when he arrived from Ajax, and it was the right decision.
Casemiro produced an acrobatic volley to fire Man United into the lead at Bournemouth
It was Casemiro’s first goal since he scored in the Carabao Cup final in February
This wasn’t the convincing of wins, it has to be said. United led through a wonderful Casemiro goal in the first half and just about managed to hold onto it thanks to a number of saves from David de Gea who secured the Golden Glove award with this clean sheet. Say what you like about some of his errors this season, he remains a very good goalkeeper.
The absence of Marcus Rashford through illness meant that Ten Hag went with the same team that beat Wolves at Old Trafford last weekend, underlining his determination not to give an inch in the top-four battle.
Gary O’Neil, on the other hand, was a little more inclined to rotate after the Cherries’ defeat at Crystal Palace and a tough season spent battling relegation. Of the five changes made by O’Neill, by far the most significant was a first start in 598 days for David Brooks following cancer treatment. The 25-year-old Wales international played for 56 minutes before he went off to a standing ovation.
He even went close to cancelling out Casemiro’s first-half opener in the early stages of the second period, but De Gea made one of several good saves to tip his shot over from the edge of the area.
It was by no means the only time United rode their luck a little and that was the story of this game: Ten Hag’s side ahead thanks to that excellent effort from Casemiro but failing to put the game to bed as they closed out the win rather uncomfortably.
The goal arrived in the ninth minute and what a strike it was from the Brazilian – his sixth of an excellent first season at United and by far the most spectacular.
Casemiro stole into the box with a late run and Christian Eriksen spotted his teammate unmarked. Marcos Senesi couldn’t cut out Eriksen’s cross which reached Casemiro with his back to goal. But the former Real Madrid improvised brilliantly, twisting his body to meet the ball with an acrobatic volley past his compatriot Neto.
Up to that point, Bournemouth looked to be in training mode in the May sunshine. Curiously, United also dropped off after the goal and De Gea made the first of several key saves when he denied Dominic Solanke, while errors from Antony and Bruno Fernandes also invited trouble. Casemiro did have another effort saved by Neto but it was a low-key finish to a rather subdued first half.
David de Gea made a crucial save to keep out Kieffer Moore in the last 10 minutes
David Brooks (right) made his first Bournemouth start in 599 days and tested David de Gea with a fierce strike early on in the second half
Erik ten Hag’s team now need just one point from their last two games to finish in the top four
De Gea denied Brooks shortly before half-time and Solanke then fired wide of the far post from a difficult angle. Ten Hag sent on Wout Weghorst for Jadon Sancho and the Dutchman had a clear sight of goal when Lloyd Kelly tried to cut out Fernandes’ throughball, but his attempt was straight at Neto.
The keeper produced a far better save to deny Fernandes after a corner was cleared to the Portugal star on the edge of the box in the 75th minute, but it was Bournemouth who went closest to a goal.
Kieffer Moore, on for Brooks, was sent through one-on-one with De Gea who came out and stood strong to block the Wales striker’s shot with his legs.
Senesi went close with a late volley onto the roof of the net but De Gea – and United – had done enough. They took the applause from the travelling fans, and Bournemouth certainly deserved theirs after the last home game of the season here.
Bournemouth (4-2-3-1): Neto; Smith (Vina 66), Zabarnyi, Senesi, Kelly; Cook, Lerma; Brooks (Moore 56), Christie (Ouattara 66), Anthony; Solanke
Manager: Gary O’Neil
Man United (4-3-3): De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Varane, Lindelof, Shaw; Casemiro, Eriksen (Fred 86), Fernandes; Antony (McTominay 86), Sancho (Garnacho 72), Martial (Weghorst 57)
Manager: Erik ten Hag
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