Ibrahimovic strikes as Man United beats Bournemouth 3-1

August 14, 2016
Manchester United's Zlatan Ibrahimovic, left, and Bournemouth's Harry Arter challenge for the ball during the English Premier League soccer match between Bournemouth and Manchester United at Vitality Stadium in Bournemouth, England, Sunday, Aug. 14, 2016. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)

BOURNEMOUTH, England (AP) — A superb goal by Zlatan Ibrahimovic on his Premier League debut helped Manchester United to a 3-1 victory over Bournemouth on Sunday in Jose Mourinho’s first league game in charge of his new club.

Juan Mata opened the scoring five minutes before halftime after a defensive blunder and captain Wayne Rooney headed United’s second in the 59th after a wayward shot by Anthony Martial.

But if there was an element of good fortune to United’s first two goals, there was no doubting the sheer class of its third. Ibrahimovic picked up the ball in midfield and unleashed a low 25-meter (yard) shot past Artur Boruc into the corner of the net.

Adam Smith scored Bournemouth’s consolation goal in the 69th, but Mourinho’s side never looked like relinquishing control of the game.

“We weren’t at 100 per cent but in the second half it became easier,” Ibrahimovic told Sky Sports. “It was a good game, a good start and it was important to start with a win.”

As for his first impression of Premier League football, the Swedish forward added: “It’s not easy. Everything is new for me. Slowly I get settled in, play my game and make my team win.”

Having spent nearly $200 million on new players and brought in former Chelsea manager Mourinho to replace Louis van Gaal, United will be expected to challenge for honors this season.

Sunday’s away performance at the Vitality Stadium was certainly an encouraging one for the start of the Mourinho era, particularly after derby rival and title favorite Manchester City scraped a 2-1 win over Sunderland on Saturday.

Determined to make a positive start, United applied most of the pressure in a tightly contested first half that saw few chances.

It took two Bournemouth defenders to clear the danger from Ibrahimovic’s aerial challenge for a high ball into the area, while Martial arrowed a shot harmlessly over the top in the early stages.

Rooney then tried his luck with a low shot in the 27th minute, but Boruc got down quickly to make the save.

Bournemouth had been disciplined at the back and looked set to finish the half on level terms until a costly blunder by Simon Francis handed United the lead.

A sloppy backpass to Boruc was pounced on by Mata, who stretched out to toe-poke a shot on target. Boruc managed to block, but the loose ball struck Francis’s knee as he ran back to clear and then rebounded into the path of Mata who steered it into an empty net.

There was also a touch of luck to United’s second goal, as the visitors kept probing Bournemouth’s defense after the re-start.

Antonio Valencia broke down the right side and sent over a cross for Martial, who hopelessly miscued his volley. However, after his downward shot struck the turf, the ball reared up conveniently for Rooney to nod past Boruc from the edge of the six-yard area.

By contrast, there was nothing but star quality behind United’s third, with 34-year-old Ibrahimovic driving home his shot from distance to maintain a record of scoring on debuts. To its credit, Bournemouth refused to buckle and Smith smacked a shot into the roof of the United net from inside the area in the 69th minute.

But there was no way back for the home side, as United made sure of a winning start to the new league season.

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