- Goals from Mata and Martial win it for Manchester United
- Best Watford chances fall to Zarate and Deeney
- West Ham next-up in the Premier League in two week's time
Watford were beaten 2-0 at Old Trafford this afternoon (Sat Feb 11), as Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United made it 16 games unbeaten in the Premier League.
Goals from Juan Mata and Anthony Martial either side of half-time sealed the Reds’ win, in a comfortable victory for the Champions League chasers.
Mourinho's side began in confident fashion - this was a different group to the one Watford out-fought at Vicarage Road in September.
First, Zlatan Ibrahimovic bounced Antonio Valencia's cross wide, before Martial darted off to the left and saw a low drive loop up off a Watford leg and wide, Gomes rooted.
Watford were holding their own, though. A cute dummy from M'Baye Niang gave Jose Holebas space to run, and the recently retired Greek international's effort swerved away from David De Gea's left post.
Zlatan fired uncharacteristically over on the volley, and pricey midfield man Paul Pogba warmed Gomes' gloves next, as United found their rhythm midway through the half.
The goal came. The Golden Boys were struggling to contain United's left-wing attacks, and Mata did what Ibrahimovic couldn't by tapping home Martial's cross at the back stick.
The pressure subsided slightly in the 12 minutes before the interval. Watford were guilty of letting their heads drop during the host's dominant opening 45 and needed to improve or face a comprehensive defeat.
The Head Coach was proactive at the break, bringing a struggling Britos off in place of the more dynamic Daryl Janmaat.
Watford began with greater purpose. Improved in possession, they made United work harder to win the ball back.
Mauro Zarate had their first shot on target, testing De Gea with a free-kick that needed the Spaniard's strong right-hand to prevent an equaliser.
But the 'Orns' first-half frailties began to show again, and it was another poor concession of the ball that led to the Reds’ game-killing second.
Capoue drove into a gap that rapidly narrowed. The ball was turned over and Martial capitalised on the resulting counter-attack as he gave Gomes the eyes and slotted in at the near-post.
United were guilty of sitting back on their cushion, and the Hornets did have chances to make a game of it.
Niang hit a teasing ball across the six-yard box that needed only a touch to force it in, but nobody in white gambled, and the chance flashed by.
Kaboul then delivered a long ball into the path of Deeney, and the front-man bullied his way into the box, digging out a shot that De Gea parried away.
At the other end, it wasn’t Ibrahimovic’s afternoon. The Swede was destined to end the game without a goal and the Swede’s final chance summed up his day – hooking a cross back over his own head from five-yards out.
Winger Isaac Success saw eight minutes of action but it was too late in the day for the Nigerian to make his mark.
No famous victory then, but the Hornets know their season will be judged on performances elsewhere for the remainder of the season.
HORNETS: Gomes (GK); Cathcart (Success, 83), Kaboul, Prödl, Britos (Janmaat, HT); Capoue, Cleverley; Niang, Zárate (Okaka, 74), Holebas; Deeney (c).
Subs not used: Arlauskis (GK), Mariappa, Behrami, Doucouré.
UNITED: De Gea (GK); Valencia, Smalling (c), Bailly, Blind; Pogba, Herrera; Mkhitaryan (Lingard 89), Mata (Fellaini, 72), Martial (Rashford, 80); Ibrahimović.
Subs not used: Romero (GK), Rooney, Carrick, Darmian.
Goals: Mata, Martial.