Match report: Watford 1 United 2
Manchester United continued where we left off before the international break, with a second away win, this time, over Watford at Vicarage Road, which halted the undefeated start to the Hornets Premier League campaign.
The in-form Luke Shaw missed out following the concussion he picked up on England duty and he was replaced by Ashley Young in the Reds only change following the win over Burnley. Marouane Fellaini was fit enough to join Matic in midfield whilst Jose Mourinho also stuck with the same front three who impressed against the Clarets in Jesse Lingard, Alexis Sanchez and Lukaku. Marcus Rashford sat out the first of three matches due to suspension.
Watford had looked impressive at home and were coming into this one on the back of a confidence-boosting win over Tottenham which meant Javi Garcia's men had won their first four league games for the first time in 30 years, but the Reds were equally as confident having impressively returned to the winning trail against Burnley and it was the away side who started the stronger. Alexis’ cutely chipped ball over the top found Lukaku but Reds goalkeeper Ben Foster grasped the ball before the Belgian could tap home.
Paul Pogba, making his 100th appearance for the club, tried his luck from 25 yards but Foster held on, before Will Hughes did likewise at the other end, but David De Gea was equal to it. The Spaniard had to be alive again five minutes later as he expertly tipped Troy Deeney’s 20-yard effort over the crossbar.
Matic clipped a ball over the top of the Watford defence, but Alexis’ effort was rightly ruled out for offside before the little Chilean beat three Hornets defenders and was only denied by a sprawling Foster save.
The Reds didn’t have to wait too much longer for a goal though as Young’s deflected left-wing cross was touched home by Lukaku at the back post to continue his recent goal scoring form.
The Reds smelt blood and Pogba unleashed a fierce 25-yard effort which was heading for the top corner, but yet again Foster kept Watford in the game with a flying save, before from the resulting corner, the Frenchman’s half-volley was deflected over. From the resulting corner Smalling chested the ball down and lethally fired a volley into the roof of the net which, this time, left Foster with no chance.
Pogba could have wrapped the game up on the stroke of half-time, but his volley at the back post was again saved by Foster as the Reds went in to the break deservedly two goals ahead.
The visitors pushed early in the second half as Garcia’s men looked for a goal which would have got them back into the game, but United held firm at the back with Smalling and Lindelof impressing against Deeney and Gray. That was until the 65th minute when Abdoulaye Doucoure’s pull-back found Gray lurking inside the box and he fired clinically past De Gea.
The Reds had a chance on the counter to put the game to bed 14 minutes from time, but Valencia’s ball across to Alexis was delayed and the Watford rear guard got back to clear.
Matic was sent off for a second yellow card in injury-time after bringing down Will Hughes, before De Gea made a last-ditch, finger tip save to deny Doucoure from the resulting free-kick. That meant the Reds held on for a second successive away win as United now switch attentions to a Champions League trip to Switzerland on Wednesday.
United: De Gea; Valencia (c) ( Bailly 90+2), Lindelof, Smalling, Young; Fellaini, Matic, Pogba; Lingard (Martial 72), Alexis (McTominay 83), Lukaku.
Subs not used: Grant, Darmian, Fred, Mata.
Scorers: Lukaku 35, Smalling 38
Booked: Matic, Valencia
Sent off: Matic
Watford: Foster; Janmaat (Femenía 72), Cathcart (Success 89), Kabasele, Holebas (Masina 83); Doucoure, Capoue, Hughes, Pereyra; Gray, Deeney (c).
Subs not used: Gomes, Mariappa, Chalobah, Sema.
Scorers: Gray 65
Booked: Capoue, Holebas
Watford 1 United 2Gallery
Swipe through the standout images from Vicarage Road.