Jose Mourinho began his Manchester United reign in the Premier League with a 3-1 victory over Bournemouth as Zlatan Ibrahimovic caught the eye and got himself on the scoresheet once again for his new club.
It was Juan Mata, playing in his 52nd consecutive league game for United having not missed one since February 2015, who put the Reds ahead after capitalising on a defensive area just before the break. Wayne Rooney headed a second after the interval, before the impressive Ibrahimovic drilled home from 25 yards. An Adam Smith strike was a mere consolation for Bournemouth.
Mourinho made two changes to the side that won at Wembley in the Community Shield seven days earlier as Jesse Lingard, who picked up a knock in that game, and Michael Carrick made way for Mata and Ander Herrera. There were Premier League debuts for Eric Bailly – in imperious form at the back alongside Daley Blind – Ibrahimovic and, later in the match, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, while Antonio Valencia notched his 250th appearance for the Reds.
The Ecuadorian and Swede had already linked well during pre-season with Valencia setting up Ibrahimovic for a goal on his friendly debut in Gothenburg and another on his official Reds bow at Wembley. And the duo almost combined again on 13 minutes but Simon Francis bravely rose to head clear as Ibrahimovic was about to pounce. That was the only real half-chance of any note during a scrappy and pretty even opening 20 minutes.
United’s main threat was down the right side, with Valencia seeing plenty of the ball in attack. He was involved in the best move of the opening period on 27 minutes when Herrera found him in space. His pull-back found Mata who set up Wayne Rooney, but the skipper couldn’t get enough pace on the ball to trouble Artur Boruc.
In keeping with the scrappiness of the game, the Reds took the lead five minutes before the interval after a double defensive error from Francis. The defender attempted to play Herrera’s ball over the top to his keeper but his backpass was too short, allowing Mata to steal in. His shot was saved by Boruc but the ball rebounded back off Francis into the Spaniard’s path and he had the simple task of tapping home from close range.
Both teams turned things up a notch at the start of the second period, with Rooney going close on 51 minutes after he latched onto a lovely mid-air flick from Ibrahimovic, but Boruc came out to block his effort.