The visitors enjoyed a bright start and had United on the ropes but Solskjaer’s side eventually got into their rhythm after they took the lead. Luke Shaw won possession on the edge of his own box and then surged forward, feeding a fine ball into the path of Marcus Rashford, who dinked over Ben Foster to cap a fantastic move.
United killed the game in the second half with another goal borne out of opportunism. Substitutes Andreas Pereira and Jesse Lingard combined and the latter’s cross was eventually scrambled home by Anthony Martial.
The Hornets provided a late sting in the tail when Abdoulaye Doucoure ghosted through the Red Devils’ defence to pull one back.
Here are our United ratings:
MANCHESTER UNITED (4-3-1-2)
David De Gea – 7: Down smartly to scoop away Deeney’s header across goal, likewise to palm Pereyra’s dipping shot round the post. Alert.
Ashley Young – 6: With United’s defence unilaterally starting slowly, he misplaced several passes and struggled to contain Pereyra. Forayed forward, with two dribbles, as United grew in confidence.
Chris Smalling – 8: Relished the physical battle with Deeney, winning six aerials in the first half alone. In the thick of things with mammoth 10 clearances.
Phil Jones – 8: Recovered after a shaky start, looking calm and assured. Thunderous sliding tackle on Deulofeu. Read game cleverly, making three interceptions and trailed only Smalling in clearances with nine.
Luke Shaw – 8: Hughes and Deulofeu caused him issues early on but he found his way. Catalyst for opening goal. Fine tackle dispossessed Deeney, vision and execution of pass to set Rashford away was exquisite. Dominant second half, was United’s best player.
Paul Pogba – 6: Looked assured in possession as usual, but unable to truly exert himself. A quieter game than usual though, unlike when that is normally the case, was still at the heart of United attacks.
Nemanja Matic – 5: Untidy start, failed to get to grips with Watford midfield. Patrolled diligently but looked a touch off the pace.
Ander Herrera – 5: Spanish sentry sniped around as usual but struggled to impose his usual all-action style. Subdued and subbed off. Five tackles led United.
Juan Mata – 6: Pace is never going to trouble opponents but always handles possession effectively and a danger when United attacked.
Anthony Martial – 7: Struggled to impact the game in first half, before providing a late sting to the Hornets with dogged work for the killer second. Lucky not to see yellow for a dive when looking for a penalty.
Marcus Rashford – 7: Often said finishing needs refining. Took his goal with the ice cold confidence. Pace and intelligence posed a constant threat.
Andreas Pereira – 6: Earned yellow for handball minutes after coming on before feeding Lingard to cross for Martial’s goal.
Jesse Lingard – 6: Intelligent run allowed him to sneak behind Watford and cross was eventually bundled home by Martial.
Marcos Rojo N/A: Thrown on to sure things up, barely noticeable.
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