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Bournemouth denied late penalty by VAR as Manchester United escape with draw

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 13 Apr 2024

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Bournemouth had an added-time penalty award overturned by VAR as disjointed Manchester United escaped Vitality Stadium with a scarcely-deserved 2-2 draw thanks to Bruno Fernandes’ brace.

Referee Tony Harrington pointed to the spot five minutes beyond the 90 when Ryan Christie went down under a challenge from Willy Kambwala before changing his decision to a free-kick on review.

Erik ten Hag’s men were tormented for much of an uninspiring performance in Dorset and twice trailed in the first half following goals from Cherries pair Dominic Solanke and Justin Kluivert.

Fernandes volleyed home his first equaliser against the run of play before denying the impressive hosts a maiden league double over the 20-time English champions by converting a 65th-minute penalty after Adam Smith inexplicably handled.

United’s Portuguese captain also rattled the crossbar with a stunning strike from distance at 2-1 down in stoppage time at the end of an exhilarating opening period.

Yet outstanding Bournemouth, who hit the woodwork through Milos Kerkez and wasted numerous other chances, should have have been out of sight by then.

United move on to a Wembley FA Cup semi-final against Coventry sitting seventh in the table and with European qualification for next term still far from assured following another disappointing display of an unconvincing season, which extended their winless run to four top-flight games.

Bournemouth, who remain 12th, had for long spells looked set to build on their thumping 3-0 win at Old Trafford in December on an evening when Solanke became the club’s record scorer in a single Premier League season by claiming his 17th strike of the campaign.

Cherries boss Andoni Iraola was on Friday named manager of the month for March and his side responded to last week’s loss at lowly Luton with a bright start which brought a deserved 16th-minute breakthrough.

Marcos Senesi dispossessed Alejandro Garnacho near the halfway line to release Solanke and, after Kambwala slipped, the in-form striker was afforded time and space to bury the ball into the bottom left corner from inside the D and claim a small piece of history, having previously emulated the exploits of Joshua King.

United remained second best and the Cherries should have been further ahead within half an hour of an open encounter.

Visiting goalkeeper Andre Onana kept out Kerkez before Luis Sinisterra fired narrowly wide for the rampant hosts, while Christie twice threatened.

Bournemouth were counting the cost of those missed chances in the 31st minute when United levelled with their only shot on target of a poor first-half display.

The Cherries had the opportunity to clear the danger before Garnacho’s low centre from the right looped up off the leg of Illia Zabarnyi for Fernandes to dispatch a thunderous effort into the roof of the net.

Undeterred by the unmerited equaliser, Bournemouth swiftly regained control by capitalising on more passive United defending just five minutes later. Kluivert collected a Senesi pass wide on the left and advanced unchallenged to match Solanke in firing firmly into the bottom left corner.

Left-back Kerkez headed into the ground and against the crossbar before nodding over the rebound as the relentless Cherries pushed for more, while only a fine one-handed save from Onana stopped the unmarked Kluivert doubling his tally with a volley.

Fernandes then struck the frame of the goal before his team trudged down the tunnel with plenty to work on.

The away side initially showed little sign of improvement before equalising for a second time in fortuitous fashion.

Match official Harrington had little hesitation in pointing to the spot when Smith handled a harmless deflected attempt from Kobbie Mainoo, allowing Fernandes to calmly roll the ball into the bottom right corner from 12 yards.

There was far less goalmouth action in a tighter second period but Bournemouth looked to have a golden chance to claim a merited victory at the death.

However, Stockley Park helped Harrington correct his initial decision and, after Cherries substitute Enes Unal squandered the resultant free-kick, United breathed a major sigh of relief.

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