This was two points dropped by Manchester United and one gained for Bournemouth, but that hardly tells the story of a stormy afternoon at Old Trafford.
The mood turned on an incident shortly before half-time when Bournemouth’s Andrew Surman was dismissed after a clash involving Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Tyrone Mings. It was, for once, not the Swede’s afternoon and that was confirmed when he missed a second-half penalty that would have lifted United to fourth in the table.
Marcos Rojo had jabbed United, who had already created enough chances to be out of sight, in front from close range midway through the opening period — a lead surprisingly cancelled out when Josh King scored confidently from the spot after Phil Jones had fouled Marc Pugh.
It seemed as though Bournemouth would see the half out uneventfully. Then mayhem unfolded in added time. What appears beyond dispute is that at least one of Mings and Ibrahimovic should have been sent off and Surman, the man eventually dismissed, was the least guilty of those involved. Ibrahimovic had been caught on the head by Mings’ trailing boot moments earlier and that appeared to be on his mind when, rising to challenge the Bournemouth defender from a corner, he elbowed him squarely in the jaw — his intentions clearly channeled toward a retribution attack.
Ming went down in a heap; a melee ensued and finished with Surman, who had pushed Ibrahimovic after the incident, being dismissed by referee Kevin Friend. While Surman had been in the wrong, it seemed unbelievably harsh that he should be the player punished. Ibrahimovic will surely receive a ban for his elbow and then there is the case of Mings, who may be in for even sterner punishment if his initial part in events is deemed to have been intentional. He had been challenged firmly by the United striker and with Ibrahimovic on the floor as he hurdled him, planted his foot in the most dangerous area possible. The panel that sits to decide whether this was mere clumsiness may be in for a long afternoon.
There was little doubting Jose Mourinho’s views on the matter, nor those of the Old Trafford crowd. United continued to knock on the door during a predictably one-sided second half before controversy reared its head again 19 minutes from time. Friend adjudged Adam Smith to have deliberately handled Paul Pogba’s pull-back, which struck his arm at close quarters, inside the box and you would have backed Ibrahimovic to win the game from the spot. Instead Artur Boruc, who had been outstanding all afternoon, saved low to his right and United were left to rue points dropped in their pursuit of the top four.