Mourinho’s big miss: Ibrahimovic braced for three-game ban

Zlatan Ibrahimovic knows what’s coming. “I respect every decision,” he said on Saturday, when asked about the prospect of retrospective punishment for elbowing Bournemouth defender Tyrone Mings in the face.

Mourinho’s big miss: Ibrahimovic braced for three-game ban

Manchester United’s top scorer will almost certainly receive a three-match domestic suspension when the FA reviews the television evidence. If he does, it will put him out of the FA Cup quarter-final trip to Chelsea, plus Premier League fixtures against Middlesbrough and West Brom.

Mings knows what is coming too. Ibrahimovic’s offence came a matter of seconds after the centre-back had stamped on the Swede’s head. There was some debate afterwards as to whether the action was deliberate; former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher suggested it was, while one journalist from Bournemouth argued Mings was just clumsy. The kindest thing that can be said in the defender’s favour is that he did not appear too bothered about avoiding Ibrahimovic, who had fallen to the floor after stumbling into Wayne Rooney.

“It’s a big jump if you are asking me to jump over two people,” Mings said in his defence. But what about being branded a disgrace by Carragher, working at the game as a television pundit? “I obviously didn’t mean it,” the Bournemouth defender said. “But if there is reaction, there is reaction. Everyone will have an opinion; that’s football.”

If Ibrahimovic is banned for three games, though, surely Mings will be too. If so, that means he will not be able to play again for a month. With Bournemouth hovering above the relegation zone, his loss could prove very significant.

Both Mings and Ibrahimovic were fortunate not to be sent off; it was ironic the two incidents led to a red card for another player. Andrew Surman, very unlucky to be booked earlier after taking the ball when challenging Luke Shaw, was dismissed for a shove on Ibrahimovic immediately after the striker elbowed Mings. Jason Tindall, Bournemouth’s assistant manager, was so enraged by the red card that he got himself sent to the stand by referee Kevin Friend.

“I probably let my frustrations get the better of me,” said Tindall. “I didn’t see the Tyrone elbow. I was going on what the lads had seen. They felt Tyrone had got elbowed in the head.”

All of those incidents — the clashes between Ibrahimovic and Mings, and the dismissals of Surman and Tindall — happened in an extraordinary finish to the first half. Yet there was so much more to discuss after this game; not least the failure of Ibrahimovic to convert a penalty with just under 20 minutes to go. Friend had pointed to the spot after Paul Pogba’s hook back across goal had been handled by Adam Smith, what looked a harsh decision. Ibrahimovic stepped up, but Artur Boruc got down low to his right to make a fine save.

“It was very disappointing,” Ibrahimovic said. “I take full responsibility for missing goals and missing the penalty. I have no problem with taking the blame. That is the game.

“I should have scored. We created a lot of chances. The penalty is the one I am most angry about.”

It was the game’s second penalty. Shortly before madness engulfed the first half’s closing moments, Joshua King had converted one at the Stretford End for Bournemouth, after Marc Pugh had been clipped by Phil Jones. That cancelled out Marcos Rojo’s first league goal for United, a touch to deflect in Antonio Valencia’s cross-shot midway through the half.

Boruc, 37, was the biggest reason that Bournemouth ended a run of four successive league defeats wit this unlikely away point. The Polish goalkeeper made six saves in total, with his penalty heroics almost matched by a magnificent flying stop to prevent Paul Pogba’s 25-yard curler flying into the top corner.

The result was cheering for Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe, who almost missed the game after being struck down by illness overnight, and still had to leave a fair chunk of his duties to Tindall. Howe’s team, without a victory in 2017, need to build on this result to pull themselves clear of trouble. “We hope it can be a catalyst,” Mings said. “There is no point coming here and getting a result like that and not backing it up with any performances after that, so we need to play well in the remaining games of the season.”

MAN UTD (4-2-3-1):

De Gea 6; Valencia 6, Jones 5, Rojo 6, Shaw 5 (Lingard 70, 6); Carrick 6 (Fellaini 70, 6), Pogba 6; Mata 5, Rooney 5 (Rashford 70, 5), Martial 6; Ibrahimovic 4.

Subs not used:

Romero, Smalling, Blind, Herrera.

BOURNEMOUTH:

Boruc 9; A Smith, Cook 7, Mings 6 (Cargill 79), Daniels 7; Arter 7, Surman 6; Fraser 6, King 6 (Gradel 87), Pugh 6 (Gosling 46, 7); Afobe 6.

Subs not used:

Allsop, B Smith, Wilshere, Ibe.

Referee:

Kevin Friend (Leicester) 5.

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