Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored on his Premier League debut as Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United beat Bournemouth 3-1 at the Vitality Stadium on Sunday.
The former Sweden captain, who netted the winner on his first competitive outing in the Community Shield, drilled in a superb low shot from distance to add to goals from Juan Mata and Wayne Rooney.
United, who also handed a first Premier League start to Eric Bailly, had found it difficult to gain control on a ground where they suffered a 2-1 defeat last season before surprise starter Mata pounced on an error from Simon Francis.
Artur Boruc twice made good saves to keep United at bay, but Rooney doubled the visitors’ lead just before the hour mark as he steered Anthony Martial’s miscued volley into the corner.
Ibrahimovic blasted in United’s third to set Mourinho on course for the ideal start to his first league campaign at Old Trafford, although Adam Smith’s fine 69th-minute strike gave Bournemouth some hope of a comeback.
But United saw out the closing stages to move top of the table, as Ibrahimovic – who has now scored on his debut in the Champions League, LaLiga, Serie A, Ligue 1 and the Premier League – celebrated in front of the visiting fans.
United, without suspended world-record signing Paul Pogba, struggled for any real control to begin with as Bournemouth pressed and kept possession well, though Callum Wilson fired the home side’s best early opening high and wide.
1 – Zlatan Ibrahimovic has now scored on his PL, Serie A, La Liga, Ligue 1 and Champions League debut. Glorious. pic.twitter.com/fI1l4FfDCI
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) August 14, 2016
Anthony Martial flashed a shot wide of Artur Boruc’s left-hand post, before the Bournemouth goalkeeper saved low from Rooney’s first-time effort after United’s first good passage of play involving Ander Herrera and Antonio Valencia.
Bournemouth continued to look the more likely, but it was United who broke the deadlock five minutes before the break thanks to some calamitous defending from the home side.
Francis’ poor backpass was pounced on by Mata and though his tame finish was blocked by Boruc, the ball rebounded off the legs of Francis and allowed United’s number eight a simple tap-in five minutes before half-time.
Boruc denied United a second shortly after the break, standing up well to block Rooney’s effort after Ibrahimovic had lofted the ball over the top of the Bournemouth defence.
But the Pole could do nothing to prevent the deficit increasing just before the hour, when Martial’s volley from 12 yards was scuffed towards Rooney and the captain turned a header beyond the reach of Boruc’s right hand.
With the Vitality Stadium suddenly at a low ebb, Ibrahimovic sent the travelling supporters into raptures, arrowing a fine effort into Boruc’s bottom-right corner from 25 yards just a few moments after he had been thwarted from a free-kick.
Bournemouth seized a lifeline with their first effort on target as Smith finished high past De Gea from 12 yards after Lewis Grabban’s clever reverse pass into the area.
De Gea was forced into a couple of excellent stoppage-time saves to maintain United’s two-goal cushion as Mourinho’s men made an early statement of intent.
Key Opta Stats:
– Only Alan Shearer and Frank Lampard (8) have scored more opening-day Premier League goals than Wayne Rooney (7).
– Bournemouth have lost all six of their Premier League games played on a Sunday.
– Juan Mata scored his first Premier League goal under the management of Jose Mourinho.
– Anthony Martial has assisted three goals in his last two Premier League games, all against Bournemouth.
– Jose Mourinho has never lost an opening-day fixture in the Premier League (W7 D1).