Martial's rebound puts Man United 2-0 up
MANCHESTER, England -- Manchester United's new era under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer began with a shaky 2-1 win over Watford as Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial scored to get the team back on track following successive defeats to Arsenal and Wolves.
After being appointed on a three-year contract, Solskjaer admitted his short term aim was to finish the season in the top four and victory over Watford, who have not won at Old Trafford since 1978, moved United level on points with third place Tottenham ahead of their trip to Liverpool on Sunday.
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United survived periods of Watford pressure early in the first half and the second but Rashford's goal after 28 minutes, following a perfectly-weighted pass from Luke Shaw, settled a crowd which had started to become anxious before Martial's goal after 72 minutes created some breathing space.
Abdoulaye Doucoure's late goal led to a nervous finish and meant United still only have one Premier League clean sheet at home this season -- the same number as Fulham.
There has already been evidence that Rashford has become a better finisher since Solskjaer took over and there was more of the same here. He has sometimes struggled when he has had too much time to think but clean through against Ben Foster he was cool enough to poke the ball past the former United goalkeeper to put United in front.
Solskjaer won't be happy with the way his team started. He has made a point of demanding United start on the front foot but they didn't here. After 20 minutes, Watford had enjoyed more of the ball and had five shots at David De Gea. The start to the second half wasn't much better.
Manager rating out of 10
7 -- Ole Gunnar Solskjaer picked the strongest team he could despite having a game against Wolves at Molineux on Tuesday night. Wasn't afraid to try to change the flow of the game by making two substitutions early in the second half when Watford were on top.
GK, David De Gea, 7 -- Did well to flick away Troy Deeney's header at the back post in the first half as Watford put United under intense early pressure. Made another good save from Roberto Pereyra.
DF, Ashley Young, 7 -- Missed the defeat to Wolves through suspension. Booed throughout by the travelling Watford fans.
DF, Luke Shaw, 8 -- Wonderful pass for Rashford's goal, whipped around Watford's defence as he charged forward. Fantastic assist.
DF, Chris Smalling, 7 -- Denied Miguel Britos a clear chance when he expertly headed away Gerard Deulofeu's free-kick under a lot of pressure.
DF, Phil Jones, 7 -- Recovered from illness to make his first start since Feb. 9 replacing Victor Lindelof. Well-timed challenge on Deulofeu on the edge of the box during Watford's fast start.
MF, Nemanja Matic, 6 -- Spun by Pereyra in the build up to an early chance for Doucoure. It wasn't a spectacular day for anyone in United's midfield.
MF, Ander Herrera, 6 -- Had his hands full with Doucoure in midfield. Didn't help that he is still shaking off the effects of a hamstring injury and was replaced midway through the second half.
MF, Paul Pogba, 5 -- A neat through ball to Rashford in the opening 10 minutes was the highlight of his day. Not his best game and was visibly frustrated by the end.
FW, Juan Mata, 6 -- Started a league game since lasting just 25 minutes against Liverpool in February. Started on the right but looked happier when he moved inside in the second half.
FW, Anthony Martial, 7 -- Lucky not to be booked for diving in the first half. Would have scored in the first half but for a fine point blank save from Ben Foster before getting United's scrappy second.
FW, Marcus Rashford, 7 -- Scored his 10th league goal of the season with a calm finish after running on to Shaw's pass. First time he has hit double figures in the Premier League.
FW Jesse Lingard (for Juan Mata, 63) -- Set up Martial's goal. 7
MF Andreas Pereira (for Ander Herrera, 63) -- Played a part in United's second. 7
DF Marcos Rojo (for Anthony Martial, 76) -- N/A.