United hold on to end Watford’s winning run

First-half goals from Romelu Lukaku and Chris Smalling were enough to survive a second half fight-back and Nemanja Matic red card as Manchester United beat Watford 2-1 at Vicarage Road on Saturday.

  • Watford 1 Manchester United 2
  • Lukaku puts United ahead
  • Smalling doubles advantage
  • Gray pulls one back
  • Matic sent off

Match summary

Lukaku put Manchester United ahead in the 35th minute before a great finish from Chris Smalling gave the visiting side a 2-0 advantage in the first half.

Andre Gray pulled one back for the hosts as he smashed an effort past David De Gea following a great cut-back from Abdoulaye Doucoure.

Full report

After a quiet start to the match with neither team creating too many clear-cut chances, De Gea was called into action as he denied a powerful shot from Troy Deeney which looked destined for the top corner.

United then thought they had their first goal through Alexis Sanchez as he slotted home from a lofted ball played in by Matic, but a raised flag put an end to the celebrations.
Sanchez next forced a great save out of Foster after a great run down the right flank saw the Chilean lash a shot towards the top of the net, but Foster managed to fling a hand up to tip the ball over.

United’s efforts finally paid off when a free-kick eventually saw Young deliver another cross towards the far post and Lukaku was alert as he got ahead of the Watford defence to put the ball into the net with his stomach.

Chris Smalling then doubled he advantage just three minutes later in delightful fashion. A long corner was headed back across goal by Fellaini and Smalling took a great first touch off his chest before acrobatically twisting to fire the shot away.

Paul Pogba had two efforts saved by Foster with United desperate to put the game to bed, but the Watford keeper held up well to keep the deficit at two in favour of the visitors at the break.

Just 15 minutes into the second half, Pogba played a fantastic through-ball to get Lukaku into a great position just outside the right of the box, but Christian Kabasele did well to get it behind for a corner.

United began to look a bit complacent and Watford were quick to punish them as Doucoure made a great cutback from the left flank and Gray made no mistake, sweeping home past De Gea.

As the game entered stoppage time, Doucoure let loose a powerful shot from range. But De Gea had lots of time as he watched it into his hands comfortably.

In the dying seconds of the game, Matic picked up a second yellow for a foul on Will Hughes and with it his marching orders as the Serbian midfielder allowed Watford one last free-kick. The delivery was perfect and Kabasele was there to meet it, but a fantastic save from De Gea ensured that the Red Devils bagged all three points.