Manchester United beat Watford 2-1 in the Premier League on Saturday, Sept. 15. Here are all the highlights from the match.
Watford and Manchester United could hardly have had more different starts to the season. As United lost two early games, and speculation swirled about the future of their best player and their manager, Watford romped to four wins in a row to sit level on points with table-toppers Liverpool and Chelsea.
This match was set up, then, to provide something of a referendum on both sides in the early season. Could Watford really challenge for the top six? Could Jose Mourinho put a controversial few months behind him and focus on improving the squad at his disposal? An entertaining 2-1 win for United failed to provide much more insight into either question.
United were dominant for over an hour, controlling play and creating a steady stream of chances with Paul Pogba, Alexis Sanchez and Jesse Lingard providing Romelu Lukaku the sort of support he has often lacked in a United shirt over the past year. They fully deserved their two-goal lead heading into the break.
But Javi Gracia’s side were game opposition, and pulled a goal back in the 64th minute through Andre Gray. The finish set up a dramatic last half hour, as the Hornets poured forward in search of an equalizer. They couldn’t find the second goal, but if there was any doubt before, it became clear there will be very few easy wins for visiting teams at Vicarage Road this season.
United, meanwhile, didn’t simply try to hold onto their lead, as they have done so often under Mourinho in the past, but they were seriously tested by the Hornets in the second half, and in the end had to thank David De Gea for a superb diving stop in second half stoppage time, shortly after Nemanja Matic had been sent off for picking up a second yellow card.
This was a big win for United, away against difficult opposition, and their second in a row after a 3-0 loss to Tottenham inspired a classic Mourinho meltdown at the end of August, but they’ve yet to reach anything approaching the level of quality displayed by Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester City this season.
Manchester United host Wolves next weekend, while Watford play Fulham at Craven Cottage.