Manchester United have won away to Watford by a score of 4-2. A brace from Ashley Young gave United the opening two goals, while Martial and Lingard added further to the scoreline. Watford pressured late, but United were able to pick up three crucial points.
There was a lot of pressure on United heading into this match. Already eight points behind 1st place City with a tough schedule ahead – an away trip to Arsenal before hosting City in the Manchester Derby – this was seen as a must win. However, Watford are no minnows, and have started this season quite well. United have had trouble at Vicarage Road in the past, but couldn’t afford another slip up today.
Mourinho made changes to the formation and personnel from the Brighton game. United started with a back 3 of Rojo, Lindelof, and Smalling. Lingard came on for Rashford, while Lukaku and Martial kept their starting spots up top.
Watford started on the front foot, creating two quick chances early on. Both came as a result of crosses but both also just missed the strikers in the penalty area.
However, United grabbed the opening goal of the contest. Lukaku picked up the ball in midfield, and turned to attack the Watford defence. He found Lingard, who then passed it off to Young. The wing-back cut inside, but had the ball tackled. It bounced back off him, into the air, and Young made no mistake the second time of asking, smashing a volley past Gomes at the near post.
Pogba picked up the ball, and went past the Watford midfield with a brilliant driving run from inside the United half before drawing a foul.
The foul lead to a free kick for United, which lead to the second goal of the game. Ashley Young stepped up, and opened up his body with his eyes pointed at the far post. However, Young fooled Gomes in goal and smashed a curling effort at the near post, and the ball flew into the upper corner to double United’s lead. It was a perfect free kick, and could end up a nominee for goal of the season.
United made it 3-0 right before the half hour mark. A woeful clearance from Watford fell to Lukaku, who hit a first time pass to Martial. The Frenchman did the rest, as he settled the ball and coolly slotted the finish past Gomes. It was the typical Martial finish, as he opened up his body and placed the ball into the corner with the side of his foot.
United continued to groove, as Martial cut inside and dribbled passed Watford defenders before being hacked down. Sadly, Young couldn’t grab hat trick from the following free kick, as his effort hit right at the Watford wall.
United would’ve grabbed a fourth if not for a brilliant double save Gomes. He first palmed away a low effort from Lukaku, As the rebound rolled into the path of Lingard, the Brazilian keeper jumped back to his feet, and got in position to tip Lingards shot over the crossbar.
Watford almost grabbed a lifeline right before the half. Kiko Femenia, the right wingback, carried the ball all the way up and across the pitch. He ended up on the left wing, and delivered an excellent cross to Richarlison. Thankfully for United, the Brazilian’s header hit off the crossbar, and went out of play.
Watford rode the momentum they created at the end of the first half into the second, pressuring the United defense with constant crosses from out wide.
A Watford corner quickly turned into a United counter. Martial carried the ball up the field, and found Lukaku out wide, who smashed a pass across the penalty area. However, Lingard was just a few steps behind the play, and couldn’t tap the ball into the net.
Matic, who was limping around, came off for Ander Herrera soon after. Hopefully it was just a precautionary change, as United have two massive fixtures coming up against Arsenal and City.
Martial then came off for Rashford, but the Frenchman did not look too happy to be coming off. However, the change could’ve been made in order to keep him fresh for the Arsenal game at the weekend.
Pogba had a chance to get a fourth for United, when a free kick was whipped into the area. He rose highest, but headed the ball well over the penalty area.
Lukaku should’ve made it 4-0 soon after. Rashford stole the ball from the Watford left back, and squared it across to Lukaku. The Belgian got the ball stuck at his feet, and by the time he could get a shot off, plenty of Watford defenders were able to get back and block the shot.
United were made to pay for their missed chances, as they conceded soon after. Pereyra danced around Rojo in the penalty area, and Rojo responded by bringing down the Watford midfielder. It was a clear penalty, and the referee made the call with no hesitation. Deeney stepped up to the spot, and made no mistake, rolling it past De Gea into the bottom corner. It was the third straight year where Deeney has scored a penalty at home against Manchester United.
Watford kept up the pressure, and made it 3-2 late into the game. Doucoure grabbed the goal, and gave Watford fans genuine hope that they could see a late equalizer.
However, Jesse Lingard broke Watford hearts and bailed out United, finally grabbing a 4th goal for Manchester. The Englishman picked up the ball in midfield, and dribbled right at the Watford defence. Everyone was expecting him to pass to Lukaku out wide, but Lingard just kept going and going. He danced around 3 Watford defenders before slotting his finish past Gomes. It was an exquisite goal, and could be a contender for goal of the season at the end of the year.
Manchester United’s next match is on Saturday, as the Red Devils travel to London to face Arsenal at the Emirates.