ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE
Manchester United 1
LONDON • Zlatan Ibrahimovic was at the centre of controversy as Manchester United were held 1-1 by 10-man Bournemouth in an incident-filled English Premier League match at Old Trafford yesterday.
Ibrahimovic, United's 26-goal top scorer this season, was lucky not to be sent off in the first half before seeing a second-half penalty saved as Jose Mourinho's side missed the opportunity to move into the Champions League places.
Marcos Rojo gave the home side the lead with his first league goal for the club, before former United forward Joshua King equalised from the penalty spot five minutes from the end of the first half.
But the match centred on a series of incidents in quick succession at the end of the first half, in which Ibrahimovic and Tyrone Mings were lucky to escape red cards.
Bournemouth defender Mings appeared to stamp on the head of the forward. Ibrahimovic, already on a yellow card, then elbowed the centre-back in the face seconds later, but received only a telling off from referee Kevin Friend.
NOBODY'S FAULT BUT OURS
Who can I blame? Ourselves. Nobody else. We missed big chances. We felt pressure of the clock running down.
JOSE MOURINHO , United manager, on failing to get a win against 10-man Bournemouth.
Both men are likely to face retrospective disciplinary action from the Football Association.
The standard punishment for violent conduct in the Premier League is a three-game ban.
In the ensuing melee, Bournemouth midfielder Andrew Surman shoved Ibrahimovic and was shown a second yellow card.
But Surman was shown a red card only after United left-back Luke Shaw reminded Friend he had already been booked.
"I would never do that (stamp on Ibrahimovic's head). That's not in my game. Hard and fair is how I like to tackle," Mings said later.
Ibrahimovic also insisted: "You have the replays, you can see the images. I jump up and jump high, and (Mings) jumps into my elbow. It is not my intention to hurt someone."
United captain Wayne Rooney, who started only his ninth league game this term, said: "To try and stamp on a player's head is wrong and there is no place for it. I am sure there will be punishment after the game."
Artur Boruc, the 37-year-old goalkeeper, had a fine game, making a series of saves against a United side who dominated. His best moment was keeping out Ibrahimovic's penalty with just under 20 minutes to go, getting down low to his right to push the ball aside.
United manager Mourinho will rue his star striker's spot-kick failure and how his team have not been clinical in front of goal.
"It's more of the same. The quality of our game, the dimension of our chances, the first half should have finished 3-0 or 4-0," the Portuguese said. "We lost two points and a good opportunity to close the gap. We are not dead for top four, but the reality is we are losing too many points at home."
The point means United stay in sixth place, where they have remained since early November, while Bournemouth ended a run of four successive league defeats.
When asked about Friend's refereeing in the midst of all that controversy between Ibrahimovic and Mings, Mourinho added: "For me, he (Friend) was good."