Manchester United celebrated Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s appointment as full-time manager with a hard-earned 2-1 win over Watford this weekend.
Manchester United kickstarted Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s spell as permanent manager with a 2-1 victory against Watford at Old Trafford on Saturday afternoon.
Manchester United look scratchy and off the pace in the early stages of the game, leading to a spell of Watford dominance, but the Hornets failed to make any inroads. The Red Devils soon started growing into the game and finally managed to break the deadlock through Marcus Rashford in the 28th minute, after being played in by a sublime pass from Luke Shaw.
Solskjaer’s side went into the half-time break on a strong note, but post the break, they were once again on the back-foot with Watford taking the game to them in search of an equalizer. However, against the run of play, it was Manchester United who struck again, with Anthony Martial hammering home from point-blank range to make it 2-0.
Watford continued to pose a threat, but the Manchester United defence managed to keep them at bay, until the 90th minute when Abdoulaye Doucoure applied the finishing touches to a fine move to pull one back. However, it was too little too late for Javi Gracia’s side as the home team held on for a win and seal three points.
Ole's permanent reign as #MUFC manager begins with a W! 😃
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) March 30, 2019
The win meant Manchester United moved into the fourth place in the Premier League standings, although that could be temporary with Arsenal scheduled to play Newcastle United on Monday night. Here’s how the Red Devils’ stars fared in what was a lacklustre display but an important victory on Saturday;
David de Gea: 7/10
The Spanish international reacted well to claw away a Troy Deeney header from the danger area in the first period and reacted sharply to palm away a Roberto Pereyra effort after the break. Not called into action much apart from those two instances.
Ashley Young: 6/10
Back into the starting lineup after his suspension for the FA Cup tie against Wolves, the Manchester United captain looked scratchy in the beginning, but did improve with time. Not the most convincing of performances, but did his best to keep his former club at bay.
Chris Smalling: 7/10
A solid performance from the Englishman who is growing in stature with every passing game under Solskjaer. Went toe to toe with Troy Deeney in a physical battle and held his own, while making crucial interventions throughout to keep his team ahead.
Phil Jones: 7/10
Back into the starting lineup for the first time since February in place of Victor Lindelof, Jones justified his selection with a steady display at the heart of Manchester United defence. Made an excellent tackle on Gerard Deulofeu in the first half and coped well with the Spaniard, who did drag him into wide areas every now and then.
Luke Shaw: 8/10
One of his most impressive displays in recent memory. Robbed the ball from Deeney, before playing a brilliant curling ball to set Rashford up for the opening goal. Raided forward when the chance presented and did some fine work defensively as well. Man of the match.
Ander Herrera: 5/10
Worked hard but struggled to match the energy of the Watford midfield which resulted in the Hornets’ dominance early in the game. Looked like he hadn’t completely shaken off his hamstring injury and was rightly withdrawn after the hour mark.
Nemanja Matic: 5/10
The Serb was dragged all around the pitch by Roberto Pereyra early on and was lucky not be punished after he gave away the ball in the box, with Will Hughes firing his effort wide. Did improve slightly with time but was a rather laboured performance.
Paul Pogba: 5/10
Apart from a nice through ball to Rashford, the Frenchman endured a very disappointing first-half where he struggled to get going. Did not fare much better in the second period either although did drive United forward on a few breaks to relieve some pressure. More is expected of the World Cup winner.
Juan Mata: 5.5/10
Starting his first league game after getting withdrawn in the first half against Liverpool last month, the Spaniard struggled to make much of an impact from the right-hand side. Moved into a central role and started to get more involved, showing some nice touches and slick passes. However, his lack of pace hampered Manchester United on more than a few occasions in the final third.
Marcus Rashford: 7/10
The 21-year-old, who is close to signing a new contract with Manchester United, was a threat to the Watford backline all game long with his pace and movement. Gave the Red Devils the lead with a fine finish in the first period and created a few more openings. Has now scored 10 Premier League goals this season – the first time he has reached the double figures in the English top-flight.
Anthony Martial: 6.5/10
Handed a start over Romelu Lukaku, the Frenchman had a bit of a mixed bag on Saturday afternoon. Ran at the Watford defence from the left flank, but the end product wasn’t always there. Did force a save from Ben Foster in the first period, before scoring the all-important second in the 72nd minute.
Jesse Lingard: 7/10
Replaced Mata just a little after the hour mark. Livened things up with his energy and set Martial up for the second.
Andreas Pereira: 6/10
Came on for Herrera in the 63rd minute. Added energy to the Manchester United midfield and was involved in the lead-up to the second goal. Booked.
Marcos Rojo: N/A
Replaced Martial with less than fifteen minutes left on the clock.