Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho said he would be “on holiday in Brazil or Los Angeles” if he thought the Premier League title race was over, as his side edged past Bournemouth.
United bounced back from their defeat by rivals Manchester City with a victory, but failed to make any inroads on unbeaten league leaders City, who thrashed Swansea 4-0 to maintain their 11-point advantage.
Belgium striker Romelu Lukaku scored the winner in the first half, heading in to the top corner from Juan Mata’s cross towards the six-yard box.
Mourinho said: “The City game was a big one, and a defeat does not help in your recovery – victories help, defeats don’t.
“Bournemouth were difficult opponents and difficult conditions. If we had scored the second it would have been a calm night for us.
“I am pleased with the three points. They had one more day’s rest than us, they were fresher than us, and mentally fresher because a big match takes more from our players.
“[The title race] is only over in May. If it is over now I go on holiday to Brazil or Los Angeles.”
United could have netted a second but substitute Marcus Rashford’s thumping drive came back off the crossbar.
Visitors Bournemouth caused plenty of problems for United but were unable to find a way past David de Gea, whose best save of the contest came from Ryan Fraser’s cross-shot.
Sluggish showing from United
United’s 40-game unbeaten run at Old Trafford was brought to an end by Pep Guardiola’s side on Sunday and they were extremely fortunate to claim three points against the Cherries.
The hosts were second best for much of the contest and had just two shots on target, as Mourinho maintained his record of not losing consecutive games at home as a manager.
Frontman Lukaku bore the brunt of the criticism for the 2-1 defeat by City, but he claimed the only goal in this match – and his 14th of the season – by rising above former Chelsea team-mate Nathan Ake and planting a header past goalkeeper Asmir Begovic.
However, Bournemouth were left questioning whether the goal should have stood as Anthony Martial collided with Adam Smith in the lead-up.
Lukaku could have added to his tally but had an effort pushed away by Begovic and Martial lashed over the follow-up from six yards out.
Despite the sluggish showing, the performances of defender Luke Shaw and midfielder Scott McTominay will be pleasing to Mourinho and the supporters.
Shaw, given his first league start in seven months, looked fit and sharp, contributing three tackles and gaining the ball back six times in the match. McTominay was neat in possession and had a 91.7% accuracy from his 47 passes.
Mourinho added: “I am not saying he is first or second choice, Shaw is an option. His history is an incredible injury and more surgery at the end of last season.
“He needs competitive matches, we gave him that and he had some cramps so we had to change him. The standing ovation for him I liked, it helps the player.”
Missed chances prove costly
Bournemouth continued their inconsistent season and have now failed to win their last five games in the top flight. The result leaves the south coast side just two points above the relegation zone.
It does not get any easier for Eddie Howe’s side, coming up against Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester United in their next league and EFL Cup games.
There were no points to show for it but they will buoyed by their performance in wet and windy conditions in the north west, keeping home goalkeeper De Gea busy throughout and calling the Spaniard into making seven saves in the match.
Full-back Charlie Daniels could have netted in the opening period but his low drive from a weaving run was tipped to safety by De Gea, who also kept out Junior Stanislas’ deflected drive.
Jermain Defoe was sent on to try to find the breakthrough, but the striker was twice thwarted by De Gea, spinning and fizzing a shot straight at the United number one on both occasions.
Howe said: “I am very disappointed, I thought we were excellent. We created opportunities, our defensive shape was very good and we deserved a lot more today.
“We worked De Gea a lot in the first half but I am disappointed with the goal we conceded. We kept going, ended the game strongly but it was not to be.
“This was a big test mentally, we came with a game plan and they delivered that. The frustration is they don’t get the reward of a win.”
Analysis – Trouble behind the scenes for United?
“Unless there is something we are unaware of, it was a very surprising lack of reaction from Lukaku to his goal. Maybe that was in answer to the criticism he has been receiving. It was only his second Premier League goal in 10 games.
“I said something negative about him at the weekend, that he has to show more, but when you score that is the perfect answer.
“That is why I was surprised he did not run away, smile or put his arm in the air. It is such a fantastic feeling when you score goals, particularly the winning ones.”
Former Liverpool midfielder Danny Murphy
“I was really impressed with Bournemouth, we see teams sitting back and giving others too much respect but they did not do that. Callum Wilson and Joshua King caused United plenty of problems.
“It is nice to see a team throwing men forward and committing. If you are going to lose a game, at least do it by having a go. De Gea has been superb recently and made a couple of decent stops.”
Man of the match – David de Gea (Manchester United)
United travel to West Brom on Sunday (kick-off 14:15 GMT), while Bournemouth travel to Liverpool on the same day (16:30 GMT).
Flat track bully Lukaku? The stats
- Manchester United have won nine of their last 10 Premier League games at Old Trafford (lost one), keeping a clean sheet in eight of these victories.
- Since earning promotion in 2015, Bournemouth have taken just 13 points from a possible 87 against the ‘top six’ teams in the Premier League (29 games).
- This was Jose Mourinho’s first home win against Bournemouth in the Premier League, in what was his third attempt – the only sides he has faced at home in the competition without winning are Burnley (twice) and Reading (once).
- Since the start of 2016-17, Romelu Lukaku has scored 30 goals in 38 Premier League appearances against sides outside of the ‘big six’ teams.
- The Belgian has scored six goals in five appearances against Bournemouth in the Premier League, with five of those coming in home games.
- Juan Mata (18) has made more assists than any other Manchester United player in the Premier League since his debut in January 2014.
- Bournemouth had five more shots on target than the home side in this game – the last opposition side to have more in a Premier League game at Old Trafford was Liverpool in March 2014 (six more than Manchester United).
- Luke Shaw made his first appearance in the Premier League this season, although he has not completed 90 minutes in the competition since October 2016 (0-0 v Burnley).