LONDON: Teenager Mason Greenwood’s brace helped Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s swashbuckling side romp to victory against Bournemouth as Manchester United grabbed their first five-goal league haul at Old Trafford since 2011.
Saturday afternoon’s clash between Eddie Howe’s embattled Cherries and the roaring Reds looked like a complete mismatch, but the hosts had to dig deep and show character on an afternoon that ended in a superb victory.
Junior Stanislas’ opener could have rocked United, so too Joshua King’s second-half penalty, but Solskjaer’s men ran out 5-2 victors as Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Bruno Fernandes efforts complemented 18-year-old Greenwood’s emphatic double.
It was the kind of match when the absence of supporters was particularly keenly felt, with United extending their unbeaten run to a 16th match in all competitions as they hit five at home in a Premier League game for the first since December 2011.
Bournemouth had threatened an upset as Stanislas nutmegged Harry Maguire and beat David De Gea at the near post to open the scoring, only for United to kick on and go into the break 3-1 up.
Rashford’s spot-kick, a thumping Greenwood strike and sumptuous curling Martial effort was cut back early in the second half as King converted a controversially-awarded penalty.
But Solskjaer’s side put their foot on the gas. Greenwood thumped home his second of the afternoon and Fernandes fired in a free-kick as Bournemouth’s relegation fears increased.
Bournemouth looked set for a long afternoon, only for Stanislas to provide a surprise injection of hope. United failed to deal with a cross and Stanislas bamboozled Maguire by popping the ball through his legs, before lashing past De Gea.
But that goal merely prodded the United beast, with a Rashford free-kick saved by Ramsdale and Solskjaer’s team upping the ante after the drinks break.
The leveller arrived in the 29th minute as Rashford cut back and Fernandes heeded Greenwood’s yelp of “Bruno”, with the forward collecting the pass and hitting a fizzing shot that was too hot to handle.
United kept their foot on Bournemouth’s throat and referee Mike Dean had no hesitation pointing to the spot when Adam Smith handled, with Rashford rather than Fernandes stepping up to slot home the penalty.
Ramsdale was close to stopping that but had no chance when Martial took aim from the edge of the box in stoppage time, arcing a beautiful strike into the top corner.
Howe’s side started on the front foot as De Gea denied Lewis Cook before substitute Arnaut Danjuma hit the near post after some slapstick defending.
That theme continued as half-time introduction Eric Bailly raised his arm to control a backpass and, following a lengthy delay, video assistant referee Lee Mason made the contentious decision to award a penalty for handball.
King made no mistake with the penalty and Danjuma saw an equaliser ruled out for offside soon after, but United rallied rather than wilted.
Bournemouth did not help themselves as their inability to clear their lines was lapped up by Greenwood, who edged wide and unleashed another emphatic finish past Ramsdale in the 54th minute.
The VAR checked that decision and the tightest of offside calls saw Rashford denied his second of the day soon after, with the drinks break giving the Cherries some welcome respite.
Nathan Ake threw himself in front of a Martial strike as United pushed for more, with Ramsdale denying Luke Shaw, Paul Pogba, Fernandes and Fred to prevent matters getting worse.
Gunners win again
Bukayo Saka celebrated his new Arsenal deal by inspiring a crucial 2-0 win at Wolves.
The 18-year-old, who penned a new long-term contract at the Emirates this week, struck his first Premier League goal to give the Gunners’ European hopes a huge boost.
Alexandre Lacazette scored a late second as impressive Arsenal closed the gap on sixth-placed Wolves to three points.
Boss Mikel Arteta continued to justify his hard-line stance on any player yet to buy into his beliefs, with Mesut Ozil and Matteo Guendouzi again missing.
Adama Traore chipped Wolves’ best chance over as Nuno Espirito Santo’s side’s Champions League hopes took a hit.
They are three points behind Manchester United after losing their 100 per cent record since returning from lockdown.
They remain in the hunt for a shock top four spot and, while a return to Europe’s top table remains fanciful for Arsenal, they bagged a deserved fourth straight win in all competitions despite a slow start.
The forward, partnering Raul Jimenez instead of Diogo Jota, also fired wildly over but there was no real sign of an early breakthrough.
Saka initially struggled on the right as the Gunners took time to find a rhythm but Rui Patricio grabbed Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s prodded half-volley in the 26th minute as they flickered into life.
Wolves lacked the tempo needed to stretch the visitors, with Leander Dendoncker glancing well wide and Jonny dragging across goal.
Arsenal, without Nicolas Pepe after his wife went into labour, grew in confidence and Eddie Nketiah went close when he pounced on a kind ricochet and Patricio turned his low drive onto the base of the post.
It was a warning Wolves failed to heed and the Gunners struck the opener two minutes before the break.
A sweeping move saw Aubameyang find Kieran Tierney on the left and his cross deflected off Matt Doherty for Saka to swivel and beat Patricio from 12 yards.
It was the first goal Wolves had conceded in 448 minutes and they started the second half with added urgency, Nuno introducing Jota 10 minutes in.
Jota had a shot blocked and Raul Jimenez saw a dubious penalty claim rejected before the pair combined for Traore to waste a glorious chance.
The forward’s end product had drastically improved this season but in the 64th minute he fluffed his lines when, having been put clear by Jota, he chipped over with just Martinez to beat.
Arsenal maintained their concentration, although posed a limited threat for much of the second half and Nketiah headed a rare chance over with 13 minutes left.
But, as Wolves began to chase the game, space opened up and Lacazette pounced with five minutes left, collecting Joe Willock’s cross to ghost past Conor Coady and find the corner.
Willock almost added a third a minute later but Ruben Neves hacked his scuffed effort off the line.
Easy for Chelsea
Olivier Giroud, Willian and Ross Barkley struck to sink Watford 3-0 at Stamford Bridge and limit Chelsea’s fall from the Premier League’s top four to less than five hours.
France’s World Cup-winning striker Giroud angled a fine effort for his third goal in five Premier League games, with the 33-year-old showing renewed sharpness.
Former Everton midfielder Barkley then capped another industrious performance with a smart strike in stoppage time.
Vardy, stuck on 99 goals since his double in a 4-0 victory over Aston Villa in the final match before the lockdown, netted Leicester’s second and third in a 3-0 win after Kelechi Iheanacho had opened the scoring.
The former Fleetwood striker, who became the first £1million signing from a non-league club when he joined the Foxes in the summer of 2012, finally reached the milestone in his 205th game.
More importantly for Brendan Rodgers’ side, the much-needed win kept Leicester third in the table after pressure had been building with resurgent Manchester United and Chelsea having significantly narrowed the gap in recent weeks.
The Foxes looked bright early on. Marc Albrighton crossed from the right but Iheanacho could only glance his header wide as he stretched to make contact.
Leicester were dominating possession, with the game being played almost exclusively in Palace’s half. They came close to making their superiority count when James Justin crashed a 25-yard effort against the crossbar.
Rodgers’ side had a two-against-one opportunity in the 18th minute but Mamadou Sakho did brilliantly to cut out Vardy’s cross as he tried to find strike partner Iheanacho inside the penalty area.
Palace threatened for the first time just after the half-hour mark as Luka Milivojevic’s curling free-kick dipped narrowly wide of the top corner.
Leicester went ahead five minutes into the second half. After good work down the left involving Albrighton and Ayoze Perez, Youri Tielemans swung a cross into the six-yard box where Iheanacho was arriving to guide the ball home.
Vardy had a chance to quickly double the lead but, from a tight angle, fired his shot into the side-netting.
Goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel was worked for the first time after an hour and did well to smother Gary Cahill’s goalbound header.
Vardy sensed the danger – and history – and raced into the box where Barnes teed him up for a simple tap-in. Of Vardy’s 100 goals, few would have been easier.
Of the 29 players to become Premier League centurions, only Ian Wright (28 years 286 days) made his debut in the competition at an older age than Vardy (27 years 232 days).
Palace tried to get back into the match but Schmeichel was never really troubled and Leicester caught them on the break in stoppage time, with Barnes again putting Vardy through on goal and the striker coolly clipped his finish over the advancing Guaita.
It was another nail in the coffin of the Canaries’ survival hopes, with Leandro Trossard’s fourth goal of the Premier League campaign leaving the hosts seven points adrift of safety with five games to play.
Last season’s Sky Bet Championship winners introduced Pukki and Cantwell with 23 minutes left, but they could not turn things around as Norwich suffered a fifth successive loss since football resumed.
Graham Potter watched Brighton complete the double over their opponents with an assured display to move on to 36 points – the same total they achieved in the 2018-19 campaign – with five games to go.
After Aaron Connolly fizzed an effort over from Aaron Mooy’s free-kick for the Seagulls in the third minute, it was Norwich who took control.
But with chief creator Cantwell and top goalscorer Pukki left on the bench, the Canaries were not able to turn their early possession into clear-cut chances at Carrow Road.
Onel Hernandez – one of four changes made by Farke after Wednesday’s 4-0 loss at Arsenal – was the hosts’ most threatening player in the first half and he sliced wide after Emiliano Buendia’s pass in the 19th minute.
Norwich centre-back Timm Klose gave possession away in midfield and Brighton broke at pace with Neal Maupay playing in Mooy down the right, and he produced a fine cross into the area where Trossard stroked home from seven yards.
Seagulls manager Potter would have been delighted with the 25th-minute breakthrough, but opposite number Farke will no doubt have been frustrated at another avoidable goal conceded by his side.
Brighton goalkeeper Mat Ryan was able to comfortably hold Hernandez’s latest effort at the end of the half, after Yves Bissouma took some sting out of the initial shot.
It was almost 2-0 in the 50th minute when Mooy’s free-kick from the left found Dan Burn and he diverted an effort just wide off his back.
Norwich responded five minutes later but Buendia’s volley was blocked before left-back Jamal Lewis produced a wonderful ball into the area, which no one could get on to.
Josip Drmic’s final involvement was a side-footed effort from range that Ryan dealt with easily before the cavalry arrived for the hosts.
It was the latter who went closest out of the trio, but his deft header from Kenny McLean’s free-kick in the third minute of stoppage time hit the inside of a post and was cleared.
Brighton were able to see out the final exchanges and there were big cheers from the visiting bench at full-time with another season of top flight football essentially secured.