Manchester United maintained the pressure on the clubs occupying the top four places after a comfortable 2-0 win over Watford at Old Trafford stretched the club’s unbeaten run in the Premier League to 16 games.
A first-half goal from Juan Mata and a second on the hour mark from Anthony Martial was enough to secure the win over Walter Mazzarri’s men. The result meant United became the first team to amass 2,000 all-time Premier League points, and more importantly stayed in the hunt for Champions League qualification.
United boss Jose Mourinho made two changes to the side that comfortably defeated champions Leicester City last Sunday as Daley Blind came in for Marcus Rojo at left-back and Martial replaced Marcus Rashford who was named among the substitutes.
In the first home match after Monday’s 59th anniversary of the Munich Air Disaster, the United fans unveiled a giant surfer flag bearing the words ‘We’ll never die’ in remembrance whilst the players adorned black armbands.
United started brightly and after a clever interchange between Antonio Valencia and Mata, Zlatan Ibrahimovic had the chance to volley an effort at goal, but he scuffed his effort. Moments later, Ibrahimovic dropped a little deeper to influence the build-up phase of the Reds’ attack and Henrikh Mkhitaryan was the beneficiary of the Swede’s vision but he fired straight at Gomes from 20 yards.
Watford’s Jose Holebas was the visitors’ outlet on the counter-attack and he unleashed a wicked effort from 30 yards which drifted wide, before Paul Pogba did the same at the other end which Gomes did well to tip round his post.
The chances were coming thick and fast for the Reds though as firstly Mata found the continuously influential Ibrahimovic, who this time had run in behind the Hornets defence, but after brilliantly chesting down inside the box, he volleyed high over the bar.
Pogba then arrived late to meet Valencia’s ball in from the right but Gomes again saved down low before Ander Herrera had two chances to score in quick succession, both from right sided cut-backs from Blind and Mata respectively, but he fired over on both occasions.
The United faithful could not believe their team’s luck as Gomes again came to Watford’s rescue by instinctively saving an Ibrahimovic header from five yards out, but the fans were soon on their feet just seconds later. Martial was set free down the left by Mkhitaryan and the Frenchman pulled the ball back for ‘the special Juan’, Mata, to tap home and give the Reds a richly-deserved lead at the break.