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BRUNO FERNANDES rescued Manchester United yet again. With a little help from VAR.

Technology reversed referee Tony Harrington’s decision to award Bournemouth a penalty that might have given them the victory they deserved.

Willy Kambwala’s foul on Ryan Christie was adjudged to be just outside the box and United survived another battering.

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But Erik Ten Hag and his team will not escape another damning verdict.

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For a player whose captaincy and attitude have frequently been criticised, Fernandes is pretty good at saving the blushes of his team-mates.

But keeping alive United’s faint hopes of Champions League football is only prolonging the agony, one way or another. Surely.

Because it remains highly unlikely that they will achieve the top four or five finish they will need in order to earn the right to take on Europe’s elite again next season.

And if by some miracle they do, on this form they will be humiliated again, after finishing bottom of a group featuring Galatasaray and FC Copenhagen last December.

Ten Hag claims not to care about the statistics that show how easy it is to create chances against his team.

United have now allowed Premier League opponents more attempts on goal than any other team.

The fact Bournemouth became the latest side not to turn attacking superiority into goals and victories stopped United slumping to what would have been a record-breaking defeat in the modern era.

But you know that any continental side worth its salt would take Ten Hag’s side to the cleaners.

It’s baffling,’ says Gary Neville as he blasts Ten Hag’s coaching and reveals what Man Utd are ‘worst in the league at’
As at Brentford two weekends before, United should have been dead and buried before Fernandes grabbed his second equaliser of the day from the penalty spot.

In the first half, United were once more outplayed by a side from the lower reaches of the Premier League whose clear philosophy and teamwork were in stark contrast to Ten Hag’s ragbag of underachieving individuals.

Bournemouth cut United open almost at will, with centre back Marcos Senesi doing his best Franz Beckenbauer impression as he frequently stepped in to boss the midfield.

Harry Maguire had already made a goal-saving challenge on Solanke when his centre back partner Willy Kambwala had a moment to forget.

Alejandro Garnacho’s loose pass was seized upon by Senesi, who played the ball forward quickly. Kambwala already looked a bit off balance and a turn by Solanke sent him stumbling, slipping, then falling to the turf.

Meanwhile the Cherries striker composed himself and stroked the ball imperiously inside Andre Onana’s near post.

Until that point United had been almost OK. But after Marcus Rashford fired into the side-netting they were a distant second best as the hosts created a number of chances, mostly down their left.

Full back Milos Kerkez, Luis Sinisterra and Ryan Christie all had sights of goal, and Christie should have done better with his second than shoot straight at Onana.

Instead, United plundered an undeserved equaliser. While Bournemouth appealed in vain for a foul on Solanke by Kambwala, Garnacho took advantage of his second chance to cross by finding Fernandes. The United captain made the most of a lucky break of the ball before smashing it home.

Almost immediately, Dango Ouattara hit a shot just wide of Onana’s left-hand post.

And moments later Bournemouth regained the lead. Senesi, once again in a quarterback role, found Kluivert totally unmarked and the Dutchman advanced before beating Onana at his near post.

It was an awful goal to concede, both in timing and execution as Garnacho, Kambwala and Diogo Dalot failed between them to prevent yet another overload on the Bournemouth left.

It was so nearly 3-1 before half time. Kerkez headed Adam Smith’s cross into the ground and on to the bar, before sending a follow-up badly over it.

“You’re f***ing s**t,” sang the home fans to United, and they weren’t wrong.

The only concern for Bournemouth was the chances they were wasting, as Kluivert volleyed straight at Onana during nine minutes of first-half stoppage time.

To underline the potential consequences, Fernandes hit the bar from distance just before the break.

Ten Hag sent on FA Cup hero Amad Diallo for Garnacho at half time and there was a slight improvement.

United at last began to have some decent possession in the Bournemouth half, but without forcing Neto into his first save of the game.

Bournemouth went close again when substitute Lloyd Kelly fizzed in a cross that Kambwala reached just before Solanke.

Then, out of nothing, United had a penalty. Kobbie Mainoo’s shot ricocheted off Christie and Smith’s arm stopped the ball reaching Rashford.

Fernandes sent Neto the wrong way from the spot.

The game then entered its first real lull.

Bournemouth showed the greater attacking intent. Too much, when Christie threw himself to the ground in search of a penalty and was booked.

But the Scotland international thought he had earned a spotkick deep into six minutes of stoppage time.

In denying him and Bournemouth, VAR got it right.

But once more United got it horribly wrong, and only Fernandes stopped it being even worse.

 

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