Red Devils stung by the Hornets


Written By: Robert Halter


Watford aimed to end a run of losing each of their last nine league meetings with Manchester United as Hornets boss, Walter Mazzarri, pitted his wits against Red Devils manager, Jose Mourinho for the first time in England since their previous encounters when at clubs in Italy. In a Sunday noon showdown at Vicarage Road during September, United pressed in the second minute, after Miguel Britos was penalised for a challenge on Zlatan Ibrahimovic, and a floating free kick by Red Devils captain, Wayne Rooney, was headed wide of the left post by Chris Smalling. In the tenth minute, after Britos was fouled by Ibrahimovic, a free kick from Jose Holebas, was met by the head of Sebastian Prodl, who turned the ball narrowly past the target. But a glaring miss from Odion Ighalo, let Man U off the hook in the thirteenth minute, after David De Gea dropped a catch while clashing into Smalling, as the ball was steered wide of an empty net by Ighalo. Then on seventeen minutes, from Daryl Janmaat’s delivery, a cushioned header by Hornets captain, Troy Deeney, produced a flying save by De Gea, as he palmed the ball away. A minute later from a cross by Craig Cathcart, the ball was put over from a header by Ighalo. On twenty one minutes, the Red Devils responded with Marcus Rashford putting the ball over to Ibrahimovic at the far post, who could only find the outside netting, when in a goal scoring position. A clash of heads with Janmaat, left Anthony Martial requiring treatment as there was a momentarily delay. In the thirty first minute, after a neat touch by Marouane Fellaini, a stunning strike from distance by Paul Pogba, rattled against the crossbar. A minute later, a corner by Rooney, was met by a looping header from Smalling, which sailed over the upright. But it was Watford that delivered the first blow on thirty four minutes, as Britos ran down the right, leaving Martial flat on his face to win the ball for Janmaat, whose delivered the ball into the box for Etienne Capoue to produce a first time connection which could not be kept out by De Gea, as the ball fell into the right side of the net. An injured Martial was then replaced by Ashley Young, who returned to face his former Golden Boys. On forty two minutes, a miss laid back pass from Cathcart, could not be capitalised upon by Ibrahimovic, as the quick reactions of Hornets goalkeeper, Heurelho Gomes, recovered the situation. Before the break, after Pogba brought down Deeney, a half hit free kick by Holebas, was comfortably held onto by De Gea. As the second half resumed, Janmaat was forced to pull out of the game as Nordin Amrabat took over and then later on, the Red Devils took off Antonio Valencia for Juan Mata. But on sixty one minutes, Man U drew level as Ibrahimovic combined with Rashford, whose header struck the shoulder of Valon Behrami, before an alert Rashford struck home the rebound from close range. On seventy nine minutes, a heroic save by Gomes, kept out a bullet point header by Ibrahimovic, from a cross by Fellaini. The Hornets soon made a change of Capoue with Juan Camilo Zuniga, and incredibly after just being on the field of play, he steered Watford to victory in the eighty third minute, with an accomplished finish, as he drilled the ball into the left pocket, after Amrabat started the play down the right before Pereyra delivered the telling low cross into the area. In the last throw of the dice, Mourinho took off a defender, Luke Shaw for more firepower with Memphis Depay. Near the end, the Hornets replaced Ighalo with Isaac Success. But Watford put the icing on the cake in the fifth minute of stoppage time, when Success was instrumental in supplying Zuniga, who was hacked down by Fellaini, and referee Michael Oliver pointed to the spot, as Deeney stepped up to smash the ball into the centre of the goal for a memorable victory for Watford as their 3-1 result against the Red Devils was their first win in thirty years against Manchester United.