Rooney and Rashford ensure fifth place finish for Man Utd

Date published: Tuesday 17th May 2016 9:51

Wayne Rooney: Celebrates fine Man Utd opener

Wayne Rooney: Celebrates fine Man Utd opener

Manchester United brought the curtain down on the Premier League season in a little style as Wayne Rooney and Marcus Rashford inspired a 3-1 win over Bournemouth at Old Trafford. 

Rooney fired United into the lead just before half time with a tap-in following a flowing attacking move down the left, and Rashford added a second with a quarter of an hour remaining with a low drive, before Ashley Young rounded off the scoring in the 87th minute after a fine Rooney pass.

A Chris Smalling own-goal in the final seconds offered consolation to the visitors.

The win sees United finish fifth in the league, on the same points as rivals Man City but missing out on Champions League football next season on goal difference.

The match took place two days after a bomb scare forced its hasty rearrangement.

Error rather than terror proved to be at the heart of the issue that saw the original match abandoned, with a private security firm having left a fake bomb inside Old Trafford following a training exercise.

United refunded all fans with tickets for Sunday’s match and offered them free entry to the rearranged game, but a number stayed away as Rashford followed Monday’s England call-up with a lovely goal in a win that belatedly brought the Premier League to a close.

The 18-year-old’s impressive finish made it eight goals in 17 matches since making his first-team debut less than three months ago and came between a Wayne Rooney goal and another that the United captain created superbly.

The England skipper opened the scoring by ending a fine team move – his 100th Premier League goal at Old Trafford – before beautifully clipping the ball over for substitute Ashley Young to score late on.

The three points see United usurp Southampton in fifth and secure a place in the Europa League group stage, but whether Louis van Gaal is still presiding over the team by then remains to be seen as fresh reports about Jose Mourinho were compounded by a bleak first half. Van Gaal was booed by some supporters after the final whistle as he addressed the crowd.

There was never any chance of the club-record 19 goals required to wrest fourth place and Champions League football from Manchester City, but not even Chris Smalling’s late own goal will prevent United entering the FA Cup final against Crystal Palace in good heart.

It was not quite the entertaining display Van Gaal had hoped for when naming the same starting line-up planned for Sunday, with the match feeling initially more like a testimonial given neither side showed cutting edge as play swung from end-to-end aimlessly.

Bournemouth’s travelling support were the only entertainment for a while in a match that required 32 minutes for either goalkeeper to dirty their gloves – and when Adam Federici was called into action it was only to catch a Rooney free-kick that evaded Michael Carrick.

Marc Pugh saw a drive blocked by Antonio Valencia at the other end, before United scored a team goal of surprising quality.

Rooney started and finished the move, playing the ball out wide to Cameron Borthwick-Jackson. The full-back passed to Anthony Martial, who collected from a neat one-two with Juan Mata and crossed for Rooney to slot home.

Rashford intelligently stepped over the cross and was soon on the deck in pain after colliding with Tommy Elphick – an incident that will have no doubt had Roy Hodgson wincing.

The teenager was able to continue for a second half that began with Callum Wilson and Dan Gosling having attempts, before United were harshly denied a penalty.

Another exceptional team move from United saw Juan Mata spin in the box and be taken down by Steve Cook, although referee Jon Moss waved play on.

A 30-yard Carrick strike rattled the crossbar, via a slight deflection, soon after, with a handball appeal and Jesse Lingard strike wide quickly following.

Federici did brilliantly to tip over a long-range Valencia effort as United belatedly showed some intensity, doubling their advantage in the 74th minute.

Rooney, again impressing in a deeper midfield role, clipped a ball across the box, with Valencia’s cushioned header swept home impressively by Rashford.

The fans’ favourite soon left to a standing ovation as the clock wound down, with Cook trying an audacious overhead kick for the Cherries.

There was still time for more goals, though, as Rooney lifted smartly over the Bournemouth defence, with Young turning home.

Fellow second-half introduction Max Gradel saw a stoppage-time effort deflect home off Smalling, but it was merely a consolation goal for Bournemouth.

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