Sport Soccer

Friday 14 December 2018

Chris Smalling and Romelu Lukaku on target as Manchester United canter to victory

Smalling now has three goals in his last six games.

Romelu Lukaku celebrates scoring the second goal
Romelu Lukaku celebrates scoring the second goal

By Nick Purewal, Press Association Sport

Chris Smalling and Romelu Lukaku struck to hand much-changed Manchester United a routine 2-0 Premier League win at Bournemouth.

Smalling’s third strike in six league games means the England defender now boasts more United goals than January’s marquee forward-line signing Alexis Sanchez.

Chile’s former Arsenal striker Sanchez has mustered just two goals in nine league appearances for United, while Smalling has now found the net in three successive away contests.

Belgium striker Lukaku then climed off the bench to seal United’s comfortable victory, as Jose Mourinho’s men hit back from Sunday’s 1-0 home loss to West Brom that handed Manchester City the league title.

Lukaku’s 16th league goal of the season – and his seventh Premier League goal in six meetings with Bournemouth – handed United an armchair ride ahead of Saturday’s FA Cup semi-final clash with Tottenham.

United made seven changes from their galling Old Trafford loss to the league’s basement club West Brom, and strolled to victory on the south coast despite bursts of spirit from Bournemouth.

The Cherries started the night the brighter, but to no avail. Callum Wilson should have done better when clean through, only for Phil Jones to recover just enough to toe away trouble.

Jordon Ibe dragged tamely wide from 20 yards after Wilson had made another threatening incision, but after that, the visitors took control.

Marcus Rashford drew a smart save from Asmir Begovic after picking Nathan Ake’s pocket as United warmed up, and then Mourinho’s men struck.

Matteo Darmian’s slide-rule pass released Jesse Lingard down the inside right, and the England forward’s cutback was buried by Smalling.

Bournemouth crafted the first opening after the break, Ryan Fraser sending Josh King scurrying away down the left flank.

The Norway forward’s teasing ball had Wilson racing to the far post, but the ex-Coventry striker was unable to make contact.

An incensed Wilson raced immediately to remonstrate with referee Graham Scott, arguing ambitiously for unjust impediment from Luke Shaw.

Wilson failed to get the better of Jones next, unable to beat the England defender when all-but clean through. Lys Mousset tangled with Jones in the United box too. But the visitors held firm.

And just when Bournemouth thought they could crank up the pressure, Paul Pogba released that valve.

The France midfielder cantered through Bournemouth’s midfield before threading a fine pass through for Lukaku.

The Belgium hitman steamed onto the ball and buried his first-time shot, to kill the contest with 20 minutes still to play.

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