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Manchester United 1-0 Watford: United strike lucky

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A Juan Mata free-kick proved to be the difference between Manchester United and Watford on Wednesday.

Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Manchester United were poor but still managed to emerge victorious at home to Watford on Wednesday. The game's only goal was a curling Juan Mata free-kick in the final few minutes, after a match in which the visitors had created the lion's share of the scoring opportunities.

United made a bright start to the match, but their only real chance in the first few minutes ended in Anthony Martial heading into the side-netting. From there, Watford created almost all of the first half's best chances, with the exception of a Morgan Schneiderlin snapshot from edge of the penalty area that flashed just wide.

Indeed, the Hornets had at least three clear-cut chances, with all falling to Odion Ighalo. The Nigerian squirmed away from Marcos Rojo in the penalty area just short of the half-hour, though fired just wide on the turn. 10 minutes later Ighalo wriggled free of Timothy Fosu-Mensah, though David de Gea got down to deny him from a tight angle.

The Spanish shot-stopper was the hero again with just two minutes left until the break. A suicidal backpass from Guillermo Varela teed up Ighalo from point-blank range, though de Gea was on hand to keep the game goalless.

The second half rather ominously picked up where the first had left off, with Étienne Capoue firing narrowly over the crossbar, shortly before Ighalo drove wide once again.

However, as the clock ticked on, United finally began to grow into the game. A Mata shot from the edge of the penalty area was beaten away by Heurelho Gomes, shortly before a Marcus Rashford cross flashed venomously across the six-yard box.

Time was running out, and it looked increasingly like the game was going to end goalless. However, inside the final 10 minutes came the winning goal. A brilliant Mata free-kick curled beyond Gomes and into the back of the net, leaving an unfortunate Watford ruing their profligacy.