Manchester United turned in an efficient performance as they downed Watford 2-0 at Old Trafford on Saturday. Goals from Juan Mata and Anthony Martial either side of halftime were the least the hosts deserved, as they provisionally leapfrogged Liverpool into fifth place.
United were presented with a stubborn Watford in the game's opening exchanges, with Walter Mazzarri having packed plenty of his players behind the ball. They gave as good as they got in the opening quarter, with a vicious José Holebas drive and an acrobatic Mauro Zárate effort both causing momentary consternation for David de Gea. At the other end, a blocked Martial effort was the closest United went.
But what was initially a trickle soon became a torrent; United found fluency in midfield, and began to slice through Watford at will. Paul Pogba and Henrikh Mkhitaryan should both have done better when presented with a gaping target on the edge of the penalty area, before the excellent Mata took it upon himself to both start and finish a fine move just past the half hour. A low Martial cross found its way through for the Spaniard, who just had to prod home for 1-0.
Watford would have been relieved when the halftime whistle sounded, though started the second half with little more conviction than they'd ended the first. A driving Martial run within two minutes of the restart culminated in a good chance, though his shot flashed wide of Heurelho Gomes’ far post. The Hornets needed a dead ball to create their next chance, with a Zárate free-kick forcing de Gea into a diving stop.
United needed a second to be absolutely comfortable, and after a slightly slow start to the second half, it was a while in coming. But eventually, just short of the hour mark, some smart play by Mkhitaryan and Zlatan Ibrahimović bought Martial the space he needed to cut inside off the left and stroke calmly inside Gomes’ near post. It was his first league goal since the 2-1 win over Middlesbrough on New Year’s Eve, and capped an impressive performance from both club and player.
United remained in comfortable control to the final whistle, and had it not been for their profligacy in front of goal, would’ve had a hatful more. However, with three points, a clean sheet and a spot in the Champions League race, José Mourinho can’t have too many complaints.