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Manchester United remained sixth in the Premier League with a draw against 10-man Bournemouth in a match that had two unpleasant incidents involving Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Tyrone Mings.
Both occurred towards the end of the first half after the players had earlier been warned by referee Kevin Friend for an off-the-ball incident.
First, Mings appeared to land on the back of the head of the United forward as he lay on the ground, and then from a corner, Ibrahimovic elbowed the Cherries defender.
That last incident was witnessed by Mings’ team-mates, including midfielder Andrew Surman who pushed the Swedish striker to the ground.
He was consequently shown a yellow card, which Friend realised was his second after a long delay. The official eventually pulled out his red card.
That followed a period of United domination, and they took the lead when Marcos Rojo diverted Antonio Valencia’s strike past keeper Artur Boruc.
The visitors – with only one win in 11 – then grabbed a shock equaliser when Joshua King converted from the spot after Phil Jones had brought down Marc Pugh.
United then won a penalty in the 71st minute when Adam Smith handled Paul Pogba’s flick. But from the resulting spot-kick Boruc, magnificent during the match, dived to his right to keep out Ibrahimovic’s effort.
Bournemouth hung on to earn their first league point in five games, but it is the incidents involving Ibrahimovic and Mings that will dominate the back pages.
Four incidents in five frantic minutes
Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe arrived at Old Trafford feeling the effects of a stomach bug – and he would have felt more queasy after what he witnessed near the end of the first half.
Surman’s sending off was the culmination of the bruising on and off-the-ball battle between Mings and Ibrahimovic.
Both had been talked to by Friend moments after the United striker had appeared to push the defender to the ground early on in the opening period. Neither were punished then, nor were they punished just before the break following the two incidents.
The first was highlighted by a TV replay when Mings, in hurdling United captain Wayne Rooney after tackling him, landed his boot on the top of Ibrahimovic, who was also lying on the turf.
From the corner, Ibrahimovic, again closely marked by Mings, appeared to elbow the defender in the face.
A melee then followed which resulted in a yellow card for Surman – his second – for a push on Ibrahimovic.
In an unsavoury end to the half, Bournemouth assistant Jason Tindall was also sent off for his protestations over the incident during the corner.
United fail to take advantage of dominance
If it was not for the brilliant saves of Boruc, United would have run away with this match.
The Cherries had conceded 51 goals in the league coming into the fixture – more than any other club – and it could have been 57 inside the first 22 minutes.
Boruc, with a strong sun in his eyes in the first half, made great saves to keep out strikes from Pogba, Rooney and then Anthony Martial. United also twice went close through Ibrahimovic.
And in the second half the Polish keeper pushed away another Pogba effort before he capped off his excellent display with a brilliant penalty save.
From United’s point of view it will be a match in which they had 20 chances and only managed to convert one.
Man of the match – Artur Boruc (Bournemouth)
Ibrahimovic’s first miss since 2015 – key stats
- Manchester United’s unbeaten Premier League run has been extended to 17 games (W9 D8), and they have not conceded more than once in a game during that run [10 goals conceded].
- Ibrahimovic missed a penalty in a league game for the first time since September 2015 for Paris St-Germain against Guingamp – he had scored six consecutively before his failure today.
- Artur Boruc was the first goalkeeper to save a penalty against Manchester United at Old Trafford in the Premier League since Boaz Myhill in May 2015.
- Boruc has saved four of the past seven penalties he has faced in the Premier League.
- Joshua King was only the 14th player in Premier League history to score a penalty at Old Trafford for the opposing side.
- King’s goal was Bournemouth’s only shot on target in the entire match.
- Bournemouth have scored all seven of their Premier League penalties this season, more than any other side.
- Rojo scored his first Premier League goal in his 54th appearance
- United have managed 20-plus shots without winning four times in the Premier League this season, more than any other side.
United are at FC Rostov next Thursday in the Europa League last 16, before they face Chelsea in the FA Cup quarter-final a week on Monday.
They next play in the league, after the Europa League return leg, when they travel to Middlesbrough on Sunday, 19 March.
The Cherries have a less busy schedule. They host West Ham in the league next Saturday.