Barclays Premier League
Manchester United vs. Watford
Venue: Old Trafford
Date: Wednesday, 2 March 2016
Kick-off: 20:00 GMT
Manchester United made it four wins on the bounce, with a narrow 1-0 victory over Watford at Old Trafford.
Captain for the night, Juan Mata’s second half free-kick late on in front of the Stretford End was the difference between the sides.
This win leaves United in fifth, but closing in on the sides above, who dropped points in the latest round of Premier League fixtures.
A deep cross to the back post from Ander Herrera early on wasn’t connected sufficiently by the head of Anthony Martial.
The lively Odion Ighalo saw a shot deflect wide before shooting straight at David De Gea after latching onto Daley blind’s slack back-pass.
As a United free-kick was headed clear by Troy Deeney, the ball dropped kindly to Morgan Schneiderlin, whose volley dropped just wide of Heurelho Gomes’ right-hand post.
Another Ighalo attempt went wide as a tame effort from Martial was held, with Almen Abdi firing over and De Gea tested to deny Ighalo once more, as half-time arrived on a wet and windy evening.
Despite playing out of position, Etienne Capoue was causing problems for the visitors, and his shot fell just over after the interval.
A Watford corner was met by Deeney, but De Gea somehow diverted the ball back over the bar with a fine save.
Ighalo’s curled shot was off target as Mata saw one attempt parried and another fall wide as the hosts aimed to grab a foothold in the game.
This wasn’t the case, as Sebastian Prodl headed wide from a corner when the centre-back really should have scored.
His defensive partner Miguel Britos was booked for hauling down Martial in a dangerous position, and the dead-ball specialist Mata stepped up, placing a superb finish from the free-kick past the helpless Gomes, who was fooled by Memphis’ dummied run which saw the Brazilian keeper step slightly to his left.
Just like on Sunday, United did a professional job of seeing out the final few minutes, claiming a vital win, especially with other results falling in their favour.
This run equals United’s run of four consecutive wins in all competitions from September, so will need to at their best to surpass this record and overcome a resolute West Bromwich Albion side on Sunday, with a 4pm kick-off time commencing proceedings at The Hawthorns.
Manchester United: De Gea; Varela, Fosu-Mensah, Blind, Rojo (Darmian 70); Schneiderlin, Herrera (Lingard 77); Martial, Mata (McNair 89), Memphis; Rashford.
Subs: Romero, McNair, Riley, Darmian, Rothwell, Weir, Lingard.
Manager: Louis van Gaal
Watford: Gomes; Nyom, Prodl, Britos, Holebas; Abdi (Suarez 70), Behrami (Anya 86), Watson, Capoue; Deeney, Ighalo (Amrabat 75)
Subs: Pantilimon, Ake, Cathcart, Paredes, Suarez, Anya, Amrabat.
Manager: Quique Sanchez Flores