An 83rd-minute strike from Spaniard Juan Mata helped Manchester United edge past a dangerous Watford side at Old Trafford. However, Louis van Gaal revealed after the match that he was on the verge of substituting Mata just before his goal.
A free kick from 20 yards out proved to be Watford’s undoing, as Juan Mata curled in a superb effort late in the game to send the Old Trafford crowd into a frenzy. The Hornets had played a very competitive match against Manchester United, but couldn’t find a way back after the Red Devils’ opener.
After the match, manager Louis van Gaal said that he almost substituted Juan Mata before the winning goal.
“He was limping,” said the Dutchman, according to the Guardian. “I am very happy I let him stay.”
Van Gaal was also full of praise for 18-year-old debutant Timothy Fosu-Mensah. The Dutch defender started in the centre of the defence alongside compatriot Daley Blind, and was instrumental in helping the Red Devils keep a clean sheet.
“Timothy has saved us several times because of his speed, so I was pleased he was on the pitch,” the Dutch manager said. “He wanted to go off but I wanted him to stay on. He had to play against Ighalo, a handful for a centre-half, and he did it fantastically.”
Four wins on the trot for injury-ravaged Red Devils
Counter-intuitively, the injury crisis at Manchester United seems to be having a positive effect on their performances. With 11 first team players currently sidelined, the Red Devils have managed to win four games in a row. The victories against Shrewsbury Town in the FA Cup, Midtjylland in the Europa League, and Arsenal and Watford in the Premier League have breathed new life into United’s campaign.
Despite their terrible season, Manchester United are now level on points with their cross-town rivals Manchester City, and there is once again a realistic chance of them breaking into the top four. With still plenty to fight for, Van Gaal and his men will be hoping to maintain their winning ways in all the three competitions they are still involved in.