United embarrassed again in 2-1 loss to tiny Bournemouth
Dec. 12, 2015
BOURNEMOUTH, England (AP) — Manchester United conceded directly from a second-minute corner on its way to a humbling 2-1 loss at Bournemouth in the Premier League on Saturday, capping a humiliating week for England's biggest club that began with a Champions League group-stage exit.
In front of 11,500 fans in its cramped and atmospheric Vitality Stadium, Bournemouth — a tiny coastal club that almost dropped out of England's professional leagues six years ago — completed a remarkable double following a 1-0 win at reigning Premier League champion Chelsea last week.
Josh King was the match-winner for Bournemouth in the 54th minute, finding himself in lots of space to turn in a finish from a pre-planned corner routine. There had been more embarrassment earlier for United, when Junior Stanislas' corner kick sailed directly into the far corner to give the hosts the lead.
Marouane Fellaini equalized for United in the 24th.
The defeat adds to the concerns of United manager Louis van Gaal, who has come under increasing pressure this season — firstly because of the team's dull style of play and then after United was eliminated from the Champions League on Tuesday after a loss to Wolfsburg. Saying Friday that United will have to get used to losing its status as a European heavyweight will hardly have endeared Van Gaal to the club's increasingly disillusioned fans.
"The attitude of the players I liked," Van Gaal said, "but that is not the only important thing. You have to perform in a certain way.
"It is always very disappointing when you are at the top of the table when you lose to a club at the bottom of the table," he added. "We showed the character. I said that to the players."
The last thing the Dutchman needed was for his injury-hit team to fall behind at Bournemouth — but that's what happened inside two minutes from one of the most bizarre goals of the season.
Stansilas whipped in a corner kick from the left wing and the swirling wind helped to take the ball beyond David de Gea, who could only touch the ball with his fingertips as it struck the post and nestled in the net.
It was a tough break for a United side that started with an average age of 24 because of a mountain of injuries — including Wayne Rooney. And another befell Van Gaal when winger Jesse Lingard was forced off the pitch in the 31st, to be replaced by 19-year-old Andreas Pereira.
By then, United had equalized when Fellaini bundled the ball into the back of the net after Memphis Depay had been denied by Bournemouth goalkeeper Artur Boruc. It was an awkward finish from the tall Belgian, who poked the ball beyond the diving Boruc, slid on his knees then stabbed it into the net while on the ground.
Bournemouth showed how dangerous it is to underestimate the team by beating Chelsea last weekend, and posed a barely recognizable United defense — comprising Guillermo Varela, Paddy McNair, Daley Blind and Cameron Borthwick-Jackson — plenty of problems on the counterattack.
But it was another set piece that undid United for the second time. In what appeared a training-ground move, King peeled off Blind in the center of the area and found himself in lots of space to meet Matt Ritchie's low corner with a first-time shot into the net from eight meters.
Bournemouth had chances to extend its lead, with substitute Glenn Murray blazing over from 10 meters.
The club from the seaside town faced financial ruin twice in the last 20 years and was on the brink of relegation to the fifth tier six years ago. Now, it has just completed back-to-back wins over two of European football's biggest teams.
"I don't think we will have many better weeks than this one," Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe said.