Zlatan Ibrahimovic plays the pantomime villain but Manchester United fall short as Kevin Friend steals the headlines

Manchester United 1 Bournemouth 1: Referee Rriend missed two blatant red cards and also awarded a soft penalty to United that Ibrahimovic was unable to finish

Click to follow

Josh King’s penalty cancelled out Marcos Rojo’s early goal as 10-man Bournemouth held Manchester United to a draw in a stunning match at Old Trafford, which saw Andrew Surman sent-off, Zlatan Ibrahimovic miss a late penalty and, most remarkably, a pitched battle between Ibrahimovic and Tyrone Mings which is likely to leave both men facing retrospective suspensions from the FA.

Old Trafford has not witnessed as many games as utterly bewildering as this one. The fun and games started early, with Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe suffering a bout of sickness ahead of the match, arriving late to the stadium and initially replaced in the technical area by his number two, Jason Tindall. 

The decision-making of the referee, Kevin Friend, will dominate the headlines in the week to come, but it will not be for awarding two spot-kicks that propels Friend into the spotlight. Instead, it is for the red-card he handed to Surman and for utterly failing to deal with a spat that broke out between Ibrahimovic and Mings in the first-half, which should have resulted in both men being dismissed.


Mings was guilty of a quite shameless and deliberate stamp on Ibrahimovic’s head which Friend did not spot, before the Swede cynically caught Mings with a swinging elbow moments later, which Friend chose not to penalise. Instead Surman was the man handed his marching orders, for rather tamely shoving Ibrahimovic in the inevitable melee that ensued. 

If the sheer level of controversy was unexpected, the fact that both sides found themselves with plenty of opportunities to score was not. After their drab 0-0 draw at home to Hull, United appear to  have relocated the net in recent weeks with 14 scored in their last 6 outings, while no side has conceded more than Bournemouth in 2017. 

In fact, the only real surprise was that it took 22 minutes for the deadlock to be broken and that United could not go on to find the winner in the second-half. 

To say Bournemouth’s defence was a shambles in the first period is an understatement. Wayne Rooney headed narrowly over the bar within the first minute, while Paul Pogba’s low shot was tipped wide by Artur Boruc and Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s first-touch let him down when played through by Rooney. All three men should have scored.

In the end, it took two defenders to show them how it was done. From a corner, Michael Carrick was afforded far too much space and moved the ball out wide to Antonio Valencia. The full-back may well claim his low drilled effort into the box was a cross — in all likelihood it was a screwed shot —but the end result was the same: defender Marcos Rojo escaping his marker and poking the ball intuitively past Boruc from the edge of the six-yard box. 

It also took a defender to undo all of that early hard work. Marc Pugh brought the ball forward on a rare counter-attack for the visitors and confidently ran into the box only to be felled by an absolutely ridiculous lunge from Phil Jones. United had little complaint with Friend’s decision and De Gea had no hope with the penalty, buried high to his right by Josh King.

That was the least of drama. Bournemouth had made up the deficit on the scoreboard but were immediately to suffer one on the pitch, as a full-blooded tackle from Ibrahimovic on Mings saw the pair’s long-running feud boil over. Mings responded by stamping on the Swede’s head; a few moments later Ibrahimovic retaliated by swinging an elbow into the defender’s face. 

Out came Friend’s red-card: but bizarrely not for either man. Instead the luckless Surman, booked earlier in the match for a hefty lunge on Shaw, was shown a second yellow for a rather tame shove on Ibrahimovic as both sets of players piled in. The melee continued as the half-time whistle rang out moments later. 

Mings and Ibrahimovic were at each other throughout the match (Getty)

The sending-off completely changed the dynamic of the match as Bournemouth, who had been happy to hit United on the counter-attack in the first-half, sunk deep into their shells in the second. Such was United’s level of dominance that Rooney could often be found playing as their deepest player but, as in the first-half, United lacked a killer-instinct despite their level of dominance.

If ever there was a time for a triple-substitution, it was in a match as utterly madcap as this one. On came Rashford, Lingard and Fellaini for Rooney, Carrick and Shaw and their introductions nearly made an instant impact, with United winning a penalty moments later. Adam Smith was harshly judged by Friend to have deliberately blocked Pogba’s cross with his arm, even though he was stood less than two yards away from the Frenchman.

Ibrahimovic and Mings are almost certain to face FA retrospective action (Getty)

But there was to be one final moment of drama. Up stepped that pantomime villain of a player, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, to seal United’s victory, but his penalty attempt was everything that King’s was not: low, tame, wasted. Boruc guessed right and tipped the ball wide and Bournemouth weathered the final hour storm to win themselves a quite remarkable point. 

Manchester United (4-2-3-1): David de Gea; Antonio Valencia, Phil Jones, Marcos Rojo, Luke Shaw (Marcus Rashford ’70); Michael Carrick (Marouane Fellaini ’70), Paul Pogba; Juan Mata, Wayne Rooney (Jesse Lingard ’70), Anthony Martial, Zlatan Ibrahimovic. 
Subs not used: Chris Smalling, Daley Blind, Sergio Romero, Ander Herrera. 
Booked: Ibrahimovic, Carrick, Rashford.

AFC Bournemouth (4-4-1-1): Artur Boruc, Adam Smith, Steve Cook, Tyrone Mings (Baily Cargill ’78), Charlie Daniels; Harry Arter, Andrew Surman, Ryan Fraser, Marc Pugh (Dan Gosling ’45); Josh King; Benik Afobe. 
Subs not used: Max Gradel, Brad Smith, Ryan Allsop, Jack Wilshere, Jordon Ibe.
Booked: Arter, Surman, Gosling.
Sent off: Surman

Referee: Kevin Friend (Leicestershire) 
Attendance: 75,245