BHappy: The game ends with Hornets heads held high and yet no real suggestion that the course of the evening was about to change at any point beyond the fifth minute. A cynic might say that, in the circumstances, honourable defeat which doesn’t mash our confidence but doesn’t add fixtures to an already congested January and February is a very decent outcome. There’s truth in this, but we wouldn’t have had any reservations had we pulled it out of the bag.
January signing Fernandes capped a man-of-the-match performance in style with his first goal for the club, nonchalantly converting a penalty he had won after being fouled by Ben Foster shortly before half-time.
Anthony Martial scored an excellent second on Sunday after Watford’s Troy Deeney had a goal ruled out by VAR for handball in the build-up. Mason Greenwood, 18, lashed home his 11th of the season 15 minutes from time to complete United’s scoring.
A dreadful mix-up between Maguire and Nemanja Matic in the third minute had sent Troy Deeney through, but the Watford striker took one touch too many when the ball was crying out to be smacked or laid off to Will Hughes.
United are flaky in defence because of the gap often allowed between rearguard and midfield. Sensing this, Roberto Pereyra skated forward and found Gerard Deulofeu to the left, he passed to the unmarked Abdoulaye Doucouré and the home team were lucky he could not finish.
The final whistle went on a comprehensive defeat for the Hornets. Unlike the Brighton game, I did applaud the players off and there was a surprisingly good atmosphere among the travelling Hornets. The Masina-Tequila song was getting a late airing, but the volume increased considerably with a rendition of “Ighalo-oh” for old times’ sake. Odion seemed to appreciate the gesture as he turned and applauded the Watford fans.
Fun away trips can often be ruined by 90 minutes of football and a 3-0 defeat at Old Trafford was certainly a let down. Jon, Jason and DCW talk through the faults and frustrations and really, really try to find some good to take us through to the final 10 games of the season.
Nigel Pearson say he is “very confident” that his Watford team can avoid relegation from the Premier League after they collected just their second win of the season against Manchester United at Vicarage Road.
Five minutes of the second half had been played when Watford were presented with a free-kick by the right touchline. Will Hughes swung the set piece into the area and, following a flick-on, the ball landed at the feet of Sarr. He hit a shot and, as had been the case at Anfield, it was poorly executed on the part of the 21-year-old Senegalese. De Gea seemed set for an easy catch at his near post but instead the ball squirmed through the Spaniard’s hands like a bar of soap and dropped into the net.
De Gea could do little about the second, scored by Deeney from the penalty spot just three minutes later. Again it was Sarr causing problems, surging between two United defenders before he was cleaned out by the sliding Wan-Bissaka. There could be no doubt about the decision and Deeney calmly struck his first goal of an injury-ravaged season.
The first half is tight and scruffy, and United get the better of the chances through Martial, who slips a shot wide, and Lingard, who is played through when a worryingly simple ball over the top peels us open. His lob is too high. Perhaps that was a break for Nige, the break that Quique didn’t get when Craig Dawson didn’t score his late header against Sheffield United. But we look tough and emboldened and up for this, and if the lingering concern is that we still aren’t creating an awful lot then that kicking of opponents up in the air mentioned previously, abetted by a tolerant performance by Lee Mason, is providing entertainment value.
Six minutes into the second half and, suddenly, all was right with the world again. A free kick from Hughes was met by Sarr who tried to hit the top corner, de Gea looked to have it covered, but the ball went through his hands and hit the net, sending the Rookery into raptures, apart from two rather gloomy blokes sitting just behind me. The visitors had an immediate chance to break back, but the header from McTominay was straight at Ben Foster. Instead, a foray by Sarr into the United box was stopped by Wan-Bissaka and the referee pointed to the spot. It appeared to be a nailed-on penalty, but I was still holding my breath while the VAR check went on. “Decision Penalty” had to be the best news of the afternoon.
Manchester United’s Ole Gunnar Solskjaer defends Watford after ‘disrespectful’ comments by journalist
United certainly do the counter punch well, and the game’s highlight was a sublime pass from Shaw for Rashford’s goal, but Watford had 20 shots all told and as many on target – eight – as their opponents had efforts at all.
We were absolutely fabulous, to a man and from the very off. Not least the “reserves” at the back; Janmaat, only arguably a downgrade on Kiko in any case, and the dogged, focused Adam Masina in comfortably the best I’ve seen him in a Watford shirt rampaged up the wings. Miguel Britos has been unfairly demonised over the last twelve months, splendid that if he is to return to Uruguay in the summer as trailed it’ll be on the back of thoroughly solid, competent displays like this. And Christian Kabasele… he’s good at the stuff he’s good at, the brainfarts are what lets him down there was none of that today. Aggressive, disciplined defending, as aggressive in fact as any situation permitted, often quite enjoyably so.
Despite their disappointment at the defeat, the travelling Hornets roared their appreciation of the team’s performance with the songs reaching a crescendo as Gracia came over to applaud the crowd. It had been a tremendous performance by the Watford lads. It isn’t often that you play away against one of the top six and find the home team playing a defensive game hoping to score on the break. The Watford midfield ran the game and, in a season in which Capoue and Doucouré have excelled on a weekly basis, it was great to see Hughes put in a superb performance.
clips of Jon Marks BBC 3CR commentary Goals: 1
Ben Foster was excellent in the first half despite the scoreline, and made a wonderful save from Alexis Sanchez in the 32nd minute as a long ball from De Gea was put into the Chile forward’s path by Lukaku. He then dribbled down to the right of the area before taking aim, but Foster was equal to it with a fingertip stop at the near post.