GOALS from Junior Stanislas and Joshua King proved not enough for relegation-threatened Cherries as free-scoring Manchester United kept them inside the bottom three with five games remaining.

Eddie Howe’s side suffered their fifth straight defeat after succumbing to a pulsating 5-2 defeat to the Red Devils.

Despite Cherries taking an early lead, Mason Greenwood struck twice along with goals from Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Bruno Fernandes to earn all three points.

Cherries full-back Diego Rico was recalled to Eddie Howe’s starting XI for his first appearance since February 9, as the boss made three changes to the side that were beaten by Newcastle.

Steve Cook was out of the squad all together due to a hamstring problem, while Arnaut Danjuma and Philip Billing dropped to the bench.

Stanislas and Lewis Cook were recalled to Cherries’ line-up, while Lloyd Kelly started at centre-half for the first time in his Premier League career.

United, who were unbeaten in all competitions since January, named an unchanged line-up to the side that thumped Brighton 3-0 away from home in midweek.

And it was the Red Devils’ dangerman Fernandes who could have opened the scoring after just 10 minutes.

A perfectly lofted ball forward from England frontman Rashford picked out the Portuguese playmaker.

He ran in behind Kelly before touching the ball over the bar past the onrushing Aaron Ramsdale.

But despite having to dig in for the opening 15 minutes, Cherries took a shock lead.

After Adam Smith’s cross eventually fell to Stanislas – the winger nutmegged England defender Harry Maguire before squeezing the ball in at the near post past keeper David de Gea.

A sharp reflex save by Ramsdale then kept Cherries ahead. After Joshua King was judged to have felled Paul Pogba, the England under-21 international flew to his right to palm away Rashford’s well-struck free-kick.

But despite being under par for the opening 28 minutes, United found themselves level.

After Rashford found space to pick out Fernandes infield, his pass released Greenwood, who rifled through Ramsdale and into the net for 1-1.

And things got worse for the visitors just six minutes later, after referee Mike Dean pointed to the penalty spot.

Martial’s header back across goal flicked the hand of Adam Smith inside Cherries’ box. Rashford stepped up to slot home the resulting spot-kick, despite Ramsdale guessing the right way.

The Cherries keeper was also powerless to prevent a moment of brilliance from Martial making it 3-1 before the break.

The Frenchman cut inside off the right flank and, with room to take aim, he curled the ball into the top corner with class to give Howe’s men a mountain to climb.

David Brooks appeared to be in some discomfort for the visitors at the end of the first half and was replaced by Arnaut Danjuma at the interval.

And the Dutchman almost made an impact within seconds of the restart. After Lewis Cook’s strike was parried to safety by de Gea, Danjuma struck the post from an acute angle on the follow-up.

But Cherries were given a lifeline shortly after eagle-eyed official Dean spotted a handball in the United box against substitute Eric Bailly. Up stepped former United man King to convert the resulting spot-kick.

And Cherries thought they were level just six minutes into the second period. Danjuma poked the ball into the bottom corner on the counter but was flagged offside.

But another stunning strike from Greenwood put the hosts in command at 4-2. The teenager was given too much space by Rico and rifled into the top corner across goal.

The game was then over as a contest just before the hour mark as United added a fifth. Kelly was judged to have felled Martial on the edge of the box.

Up stepped Fernandes to beat Ramsdale and wrap up all three points for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side.

Chances continued to flow for the hosts with Rashford turning in Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s cross, only for the flag to once again go up for offside in the build-up.

Pogba then almost found the eighth goal of the contest but Ramsdale was up to the task to deny the World Cup winner’s free-kick.

United: De Gea, Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof (Bailly, h-t), Maguire, Shaw, Pogba, Matic (Fred, 67), Greenwood, Fernandes, Rashford (Ighalo, 80), Martial (Mata, 80).

Unused subs: Pereira, James, McTominay, Williams, Romero (g/k).

Booked: None.

Cherries: Ramsdale, Smith (Stacey, 77), Kelly, Ake, Rico, Brooks (Danjuma, h-t), Lerma, L Cook (Billing, 66), Stanislas (H Wilson, 66), Solanke (Gosling, 66), King.

Unused subs: Surman, Surridge, Travers (g/k), Boruc (g/k).

Booked: Lerma.

Referee: Mike Dean.

VAR: Lee Mason.