Red Devils continue to toil in City's slipstream

Romelu Lukaku's goal against Bournemouth ensured the three points, but his side's display was in stark contrast to the league leaders City's swashbuckling display at Swansea.
Romelu Lukaku's goal against Bournemouth ensured the three points, but his side's display was in stark contrast to the league leaders City's swashbuckling display at Swansea.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • A lacklustre Manchester United responded to their loss to Manchester City with an unimpressive 1-0 Premier League win over Bournemouth at a subdued Old Trafford on Wednesday.

United manager Jose Mourinho, however, denied his team had a hangover from the derby defeat but said it had clearly taken a toll on his players.

"Fatigue, yes, but hangover - no. A defeat does not help in your recovery - victories help, defeats don't," he said.

"They were difficult opponents and difficult conditions. If we had scored the second, it would have been a calm night for us."

Romelu Lukaku's ninth league goal of the season, a 25th-minute header at the back post from a Juan Mata cross, was enough to give second-placed United the win, but once again, they had David de Gea to thank for the three points.

The Spanish 'keeper kept out efforts from Charlie Williams, Dan Gosling and Ryan Fraser and blocked a fierce strike from substitute Jermain Defoe eight minutes from time as Bournemouth pressed for an equaliser that would have been deserved.

The nearest United came to killing the game off was a thunderous long-range effort from Marcus Rashford in the 72nd minute which crashed against the bar.

Although United, with 21-year-old Scott McTominay in midfield, rarely found much fluency on a rainy and cold night, their manager was happy with the win.

"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," Mourinho added.

United remained 11 points behind leaders City, who won 4-0 at Swansea, and Mourinho said his team would not give up the chase.

"It is only over in May, if it is over now, I go on holiday," the Portuguese said.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 15, 2017, with the headline 'Red Devils continue to toil in City's slipstream'. Print Edition | Subscribe