English Premier League

Flying start: Mourinho’s United strike in their Premier League opener

Mata, Rooney and Ibrahimovic grab goals in 3-1 victory away to Bournemouth

PUBLISHED : Monday, 15 August, 2016, 12:02am
UPDATED : Monday, 15 August, 2016, 12:02am

Manchester United made a brilliant start to the Jose Mourinho era as goals from Juan Mata, Wayne Rooney and Zlatan Ibrahimovic sealed a 3-1 win in their English Premier League opener at Bournemouth on Sunday.

Mourinho is desperate to restore his tarnished reputation after being sacked by Chelsea last season and the United manager enjoyed an encouraging return to the touchline in his first league match since a December defeat at Leicester City triggered his exit from Stamford Bridge.

In the absence of Paul Pogba, their world record signing, United eased to victory after Mata punished a horrible mistake by Bournemouth defender Simon Francis just before half-time and Rooney added the second after the interval.

That set the stage for the latest memorable moment in Ibrahimovic’s glittering career as the Swedish forward netted with a fine strike to mark his Premier League debut in the same goal-scoring style he celebrated his maiden appearances in Serie A, La Liga, Ligue 1 and the Champions League.

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After a lackadaisical first half, United moved smoothly through the gears once Mata opened the scoring and, although Adam Smith got one back for Bournemouth, Mourinho will hope to build on the momentum from this result as he eyes a title challenge.

“I’m very happy. Bournemouth always start with great intensity but we kept our control,” Mourinho said.

“We weren’t surprised and then we started playing. In the second half we had a bit more confidence.”

Ibrahimovic told Sky Sports: “We weren’t at 100 per cent but in the second half it became easier.

“It was a good game, a good start and it was important to start with a win.”

As for his first impression of Premier League football, the Swedish forward added: “It’s not easy. Everything is new for me. Slowly I get settled in, play my game and make my team win.”

Bournemouth were United’s opponents when they concluded a frustrating league campaign last season, but whereas the staid atmosphere at Old Trafford that day reflected the drab nature of Louis van Gaal’s reign, there was a whiff of revolution in the air on the genteel south coast as Mourinho’s reign got under way.

Mourinho has wasted little time stamping his authority on an underachieving squad and, although Pogba was serving a one-man ban incurred at Juventus last season, the United boss paraded new signings Ibrahimovic and Eric Bailly.

Additional reporting by Associated Press