Barclays Premier League
Watford vs. Manchester United
Venue: Vicarage Road
Date: Saturday, 21 November 2015
Kick-off: 12:45 GMT
Manchester United recorded a last minute winner to earn all three points against Watford.
The 2-1 scoreline was a fair reflection of the balance of the game, despite Troy Deeney’s 86th minute penalty late on looking like securing a draw for his side.
Deeney then went from hero to zero, turning Bastian Schweinsteiger’s shot into his own net moments before stoppage time arrived at Vicarage Road.
Memphis, playing as the striker on the afternoon due to Anthony Martial’s injury and Wayne Rooney’s illness, opened the scoring with a fine volley in the 11th minute.
It was a bright start from United, and a neat move in the second minute saw Juan Mata’s low cross fall just behind Memphis inside the penalty area, with right-back Allan Nyom slicing the ball onto the top of his own net moments later.
United then took the lead after Ander Herrera’s pinpoint cross from the right was met by the left-footed volley of Memphis, bagging his fifth goal of the season.
Schweinsteiger showcased his quality with a fine cross-field ball to switch the play to Ashley Young, and the man returning to his former club whipped in a testing cross, but was headed over his own bar by Miguel Britos.
Young was then dispossessed in the next attack of the game, as a Watford break led to Deeney finding Odion Ighalo, but despite finding room to get a shot away, he sliced it wide without troubling David De Gea.
Herrera was forced off with what looked like a hamstring injury, with Marcos Rojo on in his place, and Morgan Schneiderlin volleyed an effort just over the bar.
Schneiderlin was nearly on the end of Mata’s corner which was flicked on by the head of Schweinsteiger, but Deeney made a crucial interception to divert the ball away from the onrushing Frenchman.
Etienne Capoue blazed over for Watford as Memphis cut inside from the left and forced Heurelho Gomes into a fine save to turn the attempt behind, and half-time arrived with United leading.
The second half began in similar fashion to the first, with United on top, and a loose pass allowed Memphis to play in Lingard, but his weaker foot shot from an angle was turned behind by Gomes.
A slick passing move was intercepted by former United academy starlet Craig Cathcart before Schweinsteiger fired over.
Phil Jones saw a deflected attempt fall into the arms of Gomes as Memphis skewed a shot off target before Watford grew into the game, offering some attacking impetus for the first time in the match.
Firstly, half-time substitute Nathan Ake played a low ball into Ighalo, who teed up Deeney, but the Hornets captain’s effort was palmed away by De Gea.
Ighalo himself saw a shot blocked by Schneiderlin, as Chris Smalling did likewise to Ben Watson.
Another sweeping move from United saw Lingard find Mata who in turn found Memphis, but his left-footed effort fell wide.
Almen Abdi’s shot deflected off of Smalling, and with the ball two yards behind De Gea, the Spaniard showed fantastic reflexes to turn the ball behind for a corner with a low save.
Deeney saw a venomous strike held by De Gea before Daley Blind’s superb ball caught the Watford defence napping, but Lingard’s lob fell straight into the arms of Gomes.
This looked like being a key moment in the game, as two minutes later, Rojo brought down Ighalo, and referee Robert Madley pointed to the spot.
The penalty was put away by Deeney, as Watford looked like stealing an unlikely point.
United searched to retake the lead and Smalling’s flick at the near post from a Memphis corner was turned behind by Gomes, and it was the resulting corner that led to United’s last-gasp winner.
The ball eventually landed at the feet of Lingard, and his effort was dragged across the goal, but the alert Schweinsteiger fired the ball back into the danger area, and it hit Deeney and crossed the line, as the United players sprinted after the German to celebrate.
There was time for one last chance as Ighalo’s shot on the turn in stoppage time was held by De Gea, with United securing the three points down in Hertfordshire.
A comfortable first half led to a promising start to the second for United, but Watford weathered the storm and snatched a late goal that looked like seeing honours even.
This wasn’t to be, as United’s never-say-die attitude was present once more, with a 90th minute winner sending the away following and the visiting bench into jubilation.
Up next is a home Champions League game against PSV Eindhoven on Wednesday, before another away trip in the league to face Leicester City next Saturday in the evening kick-off.
Louis van Gaal will be pleased with the majority of the play and spirit on show, and he will be hoping that this continues as the season heads into the busiest period of the campaign over Christmas and New Year.
Manchester United: De Gea; Young, Jones (McNair 69), Smalling, Blind; Schneiderlin, Schweinsteiger; Mata (Pereira 79), Herrera (Rojo 25), Lingard; Memphis.
Subs: Romero, Rojo, McNair, Darmian, Goss, Pereira, Rashford.
Manager: Louis van Gaal
Watford: Gomes; Nyom (Paredes 69), Cathcart, Britos, Anya; Capoue, Watson; Abdi, Deeney, Jurado (Ake 46); Ighalo.
Subs: Arlauskis, Oulare, Paredes, Ake, Guedioura, Ibarbo, Diamanti.
Manager: Quique Sanchez Flores