Walter Mazzari‘s Watford side piled more pressure on Manchester United and their new manager José Mourinho. A stunning 3-1 win ends a winless run against the Red Devils which goes all the way back to the 16th of September 1986.
Watford came into the game on the back of an impressive 4-2 win away at West Ham United‘s Olympic Stadium. They made one change from that side with defender Sebastian Prödl coming in for the injured Younès Kaboul. Chelsea loanee Kenedy earned a place on the bench.
Watford: Gomes; Janmaat, Cathcart, Prodl, Britos, Holebas; Pereyra, Behrami, Capoue; Deeney, Ighalo.
Subs: Amrabat, Success, Kenedy, Guedioura, Zuniga, Watson, Pantilimon.
Manchester United were back in their more expected starting eleven after making eight changes to the side that lost to Feyenoord in the Europa League in midweek. There was no place for Spaniard Ander Herrera, who arguably had one of his finest stints in a United shirt last week against Manchester City. Chris Smalling was the notable replacement, he came in for Daley Blind who made a costly error in the derby last weekend.
Man Utd: De Gea; Valencia, Bailly, Smalling, Shaw; Fellaini, Rooney, Pogba; Rashford, Ibrahimovic, Martial.
Subs: Memphis, Mata, Carrick, Blind, Young, Romero, Ander Herrera.
The early minutes saw slow football with both sides settling into the game. Midfield dominance aplenty as passes were swayed with no real attacking intent. That calmness was broken down when Watford launched the first attack of the game. Holebas caused problems for the United backline with his direct, long throw-ins, the first of which was easily swept away. The aftermath was what caused the problem, a ball lofted into the box by
That calmness was broken down when Watford launched the first attack of the game. Holebas caused problems for the United backline with his direct, long throw-ins, the first of which was easily swept away. The aftermath was what caused the problem, a ball lofted into the box by Prödl caused a mix-up between Smalling and de Gea that caused the latter to fluff his lines. An open awaited the ball, but Ighalo failed to convert from 18 yards out. First chance of the game, wasted. Anthony Martial and Watford full-back Daryl Janmaat had a clash of head which caused both men to receive treatment. Martial got the worst of it, however, he seemed dazed for a long period.
Set pieces troubled United again, with one from 40 yards out causing confusions amongst the back-line. The resulting clearance fell to Martial who tried to break out but was tackled, with allegations of it being unfair, but the referee refuted the claims and chose to play on. The ball came to Janmaat, who went all the way to the byline, and cut the ball back to Capoue who scored his 4th goal of the season, despite de Gea’s best efforts. Watford went into the break with the lead. Anthony Martial was seeing stars after the challenge and was forced to come off. Ashley Young was his replacement.
Manchester United came into the second half with a lot more intensity, commitment, and drive. Zlatan Ibrahimović combined well with his attacking partner Marcus Rashford as they drove past defenders and into the box. Ibrahimovic then passed to Rashford and amongst the hassle of defenders, he managed to get the ball past Hurelho Gomes and into the Watford net to make it 1-1.
United pressed and probed for long periods of the game but were unable to earn any reward. The substitution of Juan Mata for Antonio Valencia bought a new attacking outlet for United as they were in the hunt for a winner.
Watford were able to resist, and, against the run of play took the lead through substitute Juan Camilo Zúñiga. Fellaini and Pogba seemed dazed as to who should be getting to Pereyra who ran upto the byline before sending a powerful low cross into Zúñiga who thumped it into the far left of the net, leaving de Gea no chance. With six minutes left, three points was almost in the bag.
United tried to find an equaliser in the dying efforts of the game, but Watford stern defensive unit were able to resist. Up front, captain Troy Deeney did his best to frustrate his opposition by keeping the ball in their half, fighting off challenges and winning a barrage of free-kicks and corners.
When United finally got possession of the ball, they gave it away far to easily and substitute Isaac Success ran past challenges, into the box. He passed it to Zúñiga, who was fouled by Fellaini. A penalty earned, a penalty converted. Deeney thumped the ball into de Gea’s net to seal a historic win with the last kick of the game.
Aftermath of Watford Win
“I‘m always concerned when we don’t get the results we want. [The first goal was it a foul?] It was an obvious situation like [with] Man City last week but it is something I cannot control.” – José Mourinho
Next up for Watford is a trip away to Turf Moor to face off against Burnley. They avoid English Football League Cup action after being eliminated by Gillingham earlier in the competition.
Manchester United will hope to end their dismal run when they head to the SixFields Stadium to face Northampton Town in the League Cup. Champions Leicester City will await them at Old Trafford next Saturday in the Premier League.