Man Utd 2-1 Watford: Rashford and Martial goals seal victory for Solskjaer 3 years ago

Man Utd 2-1 Watford: Rashford and Martial goals seal victory for Solskjaer

Manchester United 2-1 Watford

And so Ole will be at the wheel for a little while longer. Three years, all being well.

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Solskjaer saw his side see off Watford 2-1 in his first game since being confirmed as Manchester United manager on a permanent basis

Old Trafford bathed in sunshine, a large banner bearing his name was unfurled and passed along the Stretford End prior to kick-off. With the Stone Roses' 'Waterfall' - a song synonymous with the Norwegian's phenomenal run as caretaker boss - blasting from the stadium speakers, there was an almost celebratory atmosphere as the teams made their way on to the pitch.

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In truth, Solskjaer's side were sluggish in the early stages. Struggling to find their groove after the international break, their passing was often wayward, their tempo flat.

In contrast, Watford started well. Sharper in possession, they might have taken the lead had Abdoulaye Doucoure not dragged an early shot wide of David De Gea's near post.  Other chances followed: Troy Deeney headed across goal, Roberto Pereyra and Gerard Deulofeu shots drew saves from De Gea.

It was only after they scored that United finally found something close to their rhythm. Luke Shaw intercepting another Watford attack, he surged forward, finding Marcus Rashford's run with a perfectly weighted through ball. Rashford made no mistake, coolly slotting past Ben Foster.

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For the next quarter of an hour, things looked ominous for Javi Gracia's side. Almost instantly, a quickly taken corner resulted in Anthony Martial firing straight at Foster. The speed and tempo of United's attacking play had been raised, the movement and Martial and Rashford in particular causing problems.

Watford survived, and began the second half as they had the first. Again, they created multiple chances; again, their passing more crisp and purposeful than that of their hosts. The parallels with the first half didn't stop there. Just as was the case before the interval, Watford's failure to capitalise on their chances was punished.

A rare United attack saw Jesse Lingard, on as a substitute moments earlier, slide a cross towards Martial at the near post. Though Foster dealt with his initial flick, the French forward reacted first to prod home United's second.

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Watford did eventually score as the game entered stoppage time. Doucoure, impressive all afternoon in midfield, tucking the ball beyond De Gea from close range after United failed to clear a free-kick.

Though a few nervy minutes followed, United hung on. It was a far from convincing display for a side aspiring to finish the season in the top four. Solskjaer will be concerned by the lack of chances created by his team and several tepid individual performances, most notably that of Paul Pogba, who was largely anonymous for much of the afternoon.

Crucially though, United, just as they have done many times in the past, found a way when not at their best. Three points secured, they move on, with Ole still at the wheel.