Quick goals from Romelu Lukaku and Chris Smalling helped United claim the three points despite Andre Gray’s second-half strike
Watford’s perfect start to the season was ended after they lost 2-1 to Manchester United at Vicarage Road.
First-half goals from Romelu Lukaku and Chris Smalling helped United claim back-to-back wins but the Premier League’s surprise package made them work for the win after Andre Gray pulled one back after the break.
The Red Devils have made a bad start to the season but there was nothing wrong with their approach to this game as they tested Ben Foster with efforts from Lukaku and Paul Pogba early on.
On 16 minutes, the hero from the Hornets’ comeback victory over Tottenham Troy Deeney had a curling effort tipped over the bar by David De Gea.
However, that was as good as it got for Watford in the first-half as United seized control of the game and Foster was forced into making another great save, this time denying Alexis Sanchez.
But Jose Mourinho’s side broke the home team’s resistance ten minutes before the break when Ashley Young’s cross deflected into Lukaku’s path and the ball struck his midriff to trickle into the corner of the net.
Pogba was unlucky not to double their lead moments later but his fierce effort was parried over by Foster.
United didn’t have to wait long for their second, however, when Smalling expertly chested and volleyed Marouane Fellaini’s header powerfully in.
Javi Gracia’s men improved after the break and Smalling was forced to clear an inswinging corner from the right away from danger just after the hour mark.
But new life was breathed into the contest when Gray latched onto Abdoulaye Doucoure’s cutback to slam the ball into the roof of the net.
Clearly sensing they could do to United what they did to Spurs two weeks ago, Watford threw everything in search of an equaliser.
They would have been encouraged even further when Nemanja Matic was sent off for a second bookable offence in stoppage time.
And Watford nearly got the goal straight away but De Gea made a superb save to deny Christian Kabasele’s header as United held on for the crucial win.
Make no mistake, this was a big, big win for the Red Devils as they had to really dig deep to stay in touch with the Premier League’s top sides.
Fellaini made a number of good challenges to stifle the Watford onslaught but Smalling is this game’s star man.
The centre-back made a very good clearance off the line in the second-half and his goal – which has ultimately proved the deciding goal – was brilliantly taken.
MOMENT OF THE MATCH
Unsurprisingly the moment of the match has to be the Smalling goal as that was ultimately where the game was won and lost.
Some believe he’s not good enough to wear the United shirt but his display shows Smalling is more than capable of playing for the club.
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