Manchester United came away from a tricky trip to Vicarage Road unscathed on Tuesday as they held off a late Watford charge to clinch a crucial 4-2 win
Marco Silva’s men were the brighter of the two sides in the game’s early stage, before the visitors took charge of the proceedings. The deadlock was broken out of nowhere by Ashley Young in the 19th minute, unleashing a fierce half volley that Heurelho Gomes had no answer for.
Young doubled his and Manchester United’s tally against his former side just six minutes later, curling in a superb free-kick into the top left corner from 25 yards out. It didn’t take long for them to triple their advantage as Romelu Lukaku put Anthony Martial through on goal, with the Frenchman comfortably slotting the ball past Gomes.
Gomes was at hand to avoid further embarrassment for his side, producing a stunning double save to deny Lukaku and Jesse Lingard. Lukaku then horribly made a meal of a point-blank scoring opportunity early on in the second half that could have cost his side dearly as Watford set about scripting a late comeback.
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) November 28, 2017
With just 15 minutes to go, Marcos Rojo brought Roberto Pereyra down by the byline, and the resulting penalty was duly converted by Troy Deeney. The Hornets clawed back another goal with just six minutes to go as Abdoulaye Doucoure struck a sweetly timed shot past David De Gea.
But, all hopes of a late Watford fightback were put to bed just two minutes later as Jesse Lingard finished a wonderful solo goal, darting past several defenders before finding the back of the net. The win helped the visitors reduce the gap on Manchester City to five points, and The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Jose Mourinho’s men.
David De Gea: 6/10
A quiet night for the Manchester United number one until the late frenzy. De Gea had far more work to do in the final quarter of an hour than in the first 75 minutes. He was sent the wrong way be Deeney and couldn’t have done much to stop Doucoure, and a late block avoided any unnecessary drama towards the end of the game.
Victor Lindelof: 8/10
The Swede continues to grow in stature with each passing game. After a solid outing against Brighton last time out, Lindelof produced easily his best performance for Manchester United, with very little to fault out of his showing, apart from one moment in the first-half.
It’s almost like Victor Lindelof was everywhere at Watford. 🔒 pic.twitter.com/akeTF5OAbE
— B/R Football (@brfootball) November 28, 2017
Other than that, he sniffed out the danger of Richarlison quite efficiently while also adequately neutralising the physical threat of Troy Deeney in the latter stages of the match. The last week or so would have definitely given him a massive boost, heading into a crunch game at Arsenal on Saturday.
Chris Smalling: 7/10
A no-nonsense performance by Smalling, who did his bit to keep the Watford attack quiet for large parts of the game, rendering Andre Gray anonymous on the night. Towards the end of the match, his leadership qualities were apparent as well, with the Englishman marshalling his backline well as the Hornets piled on the pressure.
Marcos Rojo: 6/10
It wasn’t exactly a seamless, happy return to Premier League action for Rojo on Tuesday. The Argentine had little to worry about in the first half, although he did well to cover space for Ashley Young. But, a silly foul in the first soured his comeback, giving Watford faint hopes of denying the visitors all three points.
Antonio Valencia: 7/10
A solid performance for the Manchester United skipper, who ensured the in-form Marvin Zeegelaar did not have much of an impact in the game. His work in the final third still needs a bit of work, although the Ecuadorian’s link up with Paul Pogba is delightful, more often than not.
Paul Pogba: 7/10
Pogba’s game by numbers vs. Watford:
1 key pass
4 dribbles completed
5 aerial duels won
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) November 28, 2017
The Manchester United talisman started the game strongly, and he was one of the catalysts of a terrific first half onslaught by Mourinho’s men. There were a few frustrating elements in Pogba’s outing though, particularly his open misses from a couple of set-piece situations.
The Frenchman seemed to be in cruise mode in the second half that did ended up dropping his levels, but would stand him in good stead heading into the Arsenal.
Nemanja Matic: 6/10
After a sluggish start, when he lost the ball in dangerous area, Matic settled into his usual rhythm, keeping things tight in the middle while dictating the pace of the game. His outing ended in a concerning manner though, as he appeared to have picked up an injury, and Mourinho would be hoping it’s nothing serious.
Ashley Young: 9/10
What a season this is turning out to be for Ashley Young, who is starting to enjoy a second coming at Manchester United. For the second game running, the veteran Englishman created the most impact for the Red Devils, with his early twin-goal flurry laying the foundation of a crucial win.
Ashley Young’s half by numbers vs. Watford:
100% tackles won
100% dribbles completed
Hat-trick incoming?🤔🤔🤔 pic.twitter.com/7m0M9YEK5F
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) November 28, 2017
The first among these was a fierce long-range half volley that fired past Heurelho Gomes in a jiffy. He then doubled his tally with a sumptuous free-kick. Apart from those two moments, his marauding runs were a constant threat in the final third, and another such outing could give Hector Bellerin some serious cause for concern on Saturday.
Anthony Martial: 7/10
After a couple of sub par performances against Newcastle and Brighton, Martial seemed to have redisovered some of his swagger as a result of which Kiko Femenia had his hands full on the night. His link up with Young and Lukaku stretched the Watford defence, creating a lot of space in the process.
He also capped off a fine performance with a return to goalscoring ways, calmly slotting the ball past Gomes after being sent through on goal.
Romelu Lukaku: 6/10
It was a game of two halves for Lukaku, who was a huge part of build up play in the first-half. The Belgian striker set up the third goal for his side, but was at fault for not converting the clearest chance on the night, when released by Marcus Rashford.
He looks short of confidence when pulling the trigger in and around the box, and another such outing could prove to be detrimental for Manchester United this weekend.
Jesse Lingard: 8/10
— Sky Sports Statto (@SkySportsStatto) November 28, 2017
In what was one of his better performances in a Manchester United shirt, Lingard was a constant threat to the Watford backline. His creative abilities would have given Mourinho some food for thought, with Juan Mata and Henrikh Mkhitaryan going through a hard time.
To cap off a superlative night, Lingard grabbed a well deserved goal that was all his doing, setting off on a run from within his own half before sliding past three Watford defenders and slotting the ball past Gomes. Could be a solid option for Mourinho on Saturday.
Ander Herrera: 6.5/10
Introduced in place of an ailing Matic, Herrera helped keep things calm in the middle, making a number of interceptions to stop a rampaging Watford in their tracks.
Marcus Rashford: 6/10
He should have had an assist after doing some fine work to set Lukaku up clean through on goal, before the Belgian made a meal of an easy chance. Looked good otherwise as well, providing a pacy outlet on counterattacks in the dying stages of the game.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic: N/A
The Swedish striker replaced Lingard in the final moments of the game, and did not have much time to make an impact.