ARTICLES Match Reports

Match Report: Watford 4-1 Manchester United

Manchester United’s abysmal run of form continued with a 4-1 defeat away to Watford. Donny van de Beek scored United’s only goal of the game with a diving header, but his and Jadon Sancho’s impressive showings were the only positives of United’s day. Goals from Josh King, Ismaila Sarr, Joao Pedro and Emmanuel Dennis gave the Hornets all three points.

Story of the game

The game began in a frantic way, with King winning Watford an early penalty after being dragged down by Scott McTominay. Bruno Fernandes gave the ball away initially after miskicking a clearance. Sarr stepped up to take the penalty but saw his effort saved by David de Gea low to his left. Watford did manage to score the rebound, with Kiko Femenia following up de Gea’s save. After a VAR check, however, both Feminia and Aaron Wan-Bissaka were deemed to have encroached the box before Sarr took the penalty, resulting in a retake. Sarr failed to capitalise on his second chance at scoring the penalty, with de Gea pulling off another save.

Embed from Getty Images

It was the home side who were on top in the minutes that followed, with King and Sarr having a shot each blocked by Harry Maguire. United struggled to apply any kind of pressure, despite a half chance for Cristiano Ronaldo. Watford were certainly asking big questions of United’s defence and took the lead in the 27th minute through King. The Norwegian received the ball unmarked in United’s box and saw his shot roll past de Gea to give his side the lead.

Just moments later, Marcus Rashford had the chance to draw United level. Fernandes found the winger on the right with an excellent long ball, but United’s number 10 didn’t catch his shot as cleanly as he would have hoped, forcing Watford goalkeeper Ben Foster into a save, which saw him scoop the ball out of danger.

Watford went two goals up on the stroke of halftime, this time through Sarr, who missed a header just four minutes before. The Senegal winger received the ball in acres of space after Watford worked it down the right-hand side with relative ease. Sarr took a touch to set himself, before firing past de Gea to double the Hornet’s lead.

Ole Gunnar Solskjær made two changes at halftime, with van de Beek and Anthony Martial replacing McTominay and Rashfordrespectively. Instantly, van de Beek had an impact. In the 55th minute, Jadon Sancho put in an exceptional cross for Ronaldo, who rose highest and nodded it down for the midfielder, whose excellent diving header pulled United back into the game.

Embed from Getty Images

United had a couple more opportunities in the 15 minutes that followed van de Beek’s goal, with the Dutchman linking up nicely with Sancho several times. Ronaldo uncharacteristically missed a one-on-one against Foster, who made a strong save, Fernandes fired a poor effort on the wrong side of the post and Nemanja Matic dragged a shot wide.

Things got even worse for United in the 69th minute when Maguire was sent off for a second bookable offence. Maguire’s reckless challenge on former United man Tom Cleverly came as a result of a poor first touch, resulting in his first red card for United. The defender’s dismissal created an even tougher situation for Solskjær’s side.

Embed from Getty Images

United, despite having some chances through Ronaldo and Fernandes, didn’t trouble Watford much after Maguire saw red. The home side added a third goal to their tally, with Joao Pedro, who has missed a chance seconds before, scoring his first goal in almost 20 games. United once again lost the ball sloppily in midfield. Watford scored their fourth goal through Dennis, who fired the ball past de Gea after eventually running onto Foster’s long ball up the pitch.

Good performances from van de Beek and Sancho

Despite another harrowing defeat for United, Donny van de Beek and Jadon Sancho were two of the only exceptions today. Fans have been desperate to see both get regular game time, and they showed why they should be getting more regular minutes. Sancho’s intricate passing and dribbling, as well as his brilliant crossing, was refreshing, to say the least. Van de Beek was exceptional all over the pitch, putting in some crunching tackles and picking some excellent passes. This, topped off with his goal, capped off a great personal performance. Both performances added something United have been crying out for recently. This is a duo we could see thrive together in the future.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: