Watford 2-4 Manchester United: Jesse Lingard ends hosts' hopes of a comeback following Ashley Young brace in first-half blitz by Jose Mourinho's side

  • Ashley Young broke the deadlock at Vicarage Road on Tuesday night with a drilled effort from outside the box
  • Young doubled his account and Manchester United's lead with a stunning 25-yard free-kick six minutes later
  • Anthony Martial then raced through after Romelu Lukaku's pass to guide home a third past Heurelho Gomes
  • Troy Deeney reduced the hosts' arrears from the penalty spot after Marcos Rojo's clumsy foul in the box
  • Abdoulaye Doucoure prodded home inside the penalty area with six minutes to go to set up grandstand finish
  • Jesse Lingard ended Watford's comeback by dribbling from inside his own half and finishing low in the area

There is more than one way to extinguish a fightback. One is to defend for your lives and hope for the best and another is to do what Jesse Lingard did.

With three minutes to go here at a fevered Vicarage Road, Watford were threatening to burn Manchester United's house down.

To lose a three-goal lead would have left a huge dent in United's pursuit of Manchester City at the top of the Premier League and left Romelu Lukaku's confidence in bits.?

Jesse Lingard ended Watford's hopes of a sensational comeback with a solo goal after picking up the ball in his own half

Jesse Lingard ended Watford's hopes of a sensational comeback with a solo goal after picking up the ball in his own half

The Manchester United winger takes the acclaim of the travelling fans at Vicarage Road after sealing a 4-2 win on Tuesday

The Manchester United winger takes the acclaim of the travelling fans at Vicarage Road after sealing a 4-2 win on Tuesday

Abdoulaye Doucoure sparked hopes of a dramatic three-goal comeback from Watford after netting with six minutes to go

Abdoulaye Doucoure sparked hopes of a dramatic three-goal comeback from Watford after netting with six minutes to go

Watford found their way back into the game after Marcos Rojo's clumsy foul on substitute Roberto Pereyra in the box

Watford found their way back into the game after Marcos Rojo's clumsy foul on substitute Roberto Pereyra in the box

Anthony Martial celebrates after scoring Manchester United's third first-half goal against Watford at Vicarage Road

The French international made no mistake when played through by Romelu Lukaku in the 32nd minute on Tuesday night

The French international made no mistake when played through by Romelu Lukaku in the 32nd minute on Tuesday night

Ashley Young celebrates scoring his second of the night to give the visitors a comfortable cushion in the first-half

Ashley Young celebrates scoring his second of the night to give the visitors a comfortable cushion in the first-half

Young bent a free-kick over the wall from 25 yards and watched the ball nestle in the top corner beyond?Heurelho Gomes

Young bent a free-kick over the wall from 25 yards and watched the ball nestle in the top corner beyond?Heurelho Gomes

Jesse Lingard embraces team-mate Young after he opened the scoring with a drilled strike from the edge of the area

Jesse Lingard embraces team-mate Young after he opened the scoring with a drilled strike from the edge of the area

Young's effort proved too powerful for Watford goalkeeper Gomes as it beat him at the near post on Tuesday night

Young's effort proved too powerful for Watford goalkeeper Gomes as it beat him at the near post on Tuesday night

MATCH FACTS, RATINGS, TABLE AND MATCH ZONE

Watford (3-4-2-1):?Gomes 6; Mariappa 6, Prodl 6.5 (Carillo 58mins, 6), Kabasele 6; Femenia 5.5, Doucoure 6.5, Cleverley 6.5, Zeegelaar 6; Hughes 6 (Pereyra 58, 6), Richarlison 7; Gray 6.5 (Deeney 72, 6)

Subs not used: Janmaat, Wague, Capoue, Karnezis

Goalscorers: Deeney pen 77, Doucoure 84?

Booked: Doucoure, Mariappa

Manager: Marco Silva 5.5

Manchester United (4-2-3-1):?De Gea 6.5; Lindelof 6, Smalling 6.5, Rojo 6; Valencia 6, Pogba 7, Matic 7 (Herrera 54, 6), Young 8; Lingard 7.5 (Ibrahimovic 88, 7.5), Martial 7.5 (Rashford 63, 6), Lukaku 6

Subs not used: Mata, Ibrahimovic, Romero, Darmian, McTominay

Goalscorers: Young 19, 25, Martial 32, Lingard 87

Booked: Rojo

Manager: Jose Mourinho 7?

Referee: Jonathan Moss 5.5

Attendance: 20,552?

Season at a glance

  • Premier League
  • Premier League
  • Championship
  • League One
  • League Two
  • Scottish Premiership
  • Scottish Div 1
  • Scottish Div 2
  • Scottish Div 3
  • Ligue 1
  • Serie A
  • La Liga
  • Bundesliga

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Alexandre Lacazette opened the scoring for Arsenal with his strike after 2 minutes and 43 seconds. CLICK HERE for more from MATCH ZONE.

Ashley Young doubled his account for the evening with a stunning free-kick. CLICK HERE for more from MATCH ZONE.

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With the score at 3-0, the United centre forward had missed the kind of chance that a Sunday League player would have scored.

But as the game reached a quite unexpected crescendo, United were indeed in very real danger. A penalty from Troy Deeney and another goal from Abdoulaye Doucoure had dragged Watford back in to a game they had seemed to wave farewell to during 12 calamitous first half minutes.

So Lingard's goal was the definitive one. The two scored by Ashley Young in the first half were fantastic and were lent further significance by the fact he learned his football at Watford.?

But the way Lingard sealed this game and ended Watford's hopes of something remarkable was even more significant.

Picking the ball up 15 yards in his own half, Lingard perhaps broke forward with only thoughts of relieving territorial pressure in his mind. But as he entered Watford's defensive zone and players started to back away from him, it was obvious that Lingard realised that opportunity to do so much more beckoned.

The 24-year-old has scored important goals before. He has scored in an FA Cup final and a League Cup final. So we know that he doesn't lack the confidence, even though he doesn't have the consistency to always land a starting place in Jose Mourinho's team.

England Under 21 midfielder Will Hughes tries to get Watford playing with a pass to a team-mate as Marcos Rojo watches on

England Under 21 midfielder Will Hughes tries to get Watford playing with a pass to a team-mate as Marcos Rojo watches on

Abdoulaye Doucoure shifts the ball past Manchester United midfielder Nemanja Matic during the early exchanges

Abdoulaye Doucoure shifts the ball past Manchester United midfielder Nemanja Matic during the early exchanges

Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba issues instructions to his team-mates as Matic walks past nearby

Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba issues instructions to his team-mates as Matic walks past nearby

Watford striker Andre Gray gets in behind Marcos Rojo but is unable to test Manchester United No 1 David De Gea?

Watford striker Andre Gray gets in behind Marcos Rojo but is unable to test Manchester United No 1 David De Gea?

Manchester United striker Romelu Lukaku goes to ground as Watford defender Sebastian Prodl grabs hold of the Belgian

Manchester United striker Romelu Lukaku goes to ground as Watford defender Sebastian Prodl grabs hold of the Belgian

Heurelho Gomes can only watch on as Ashley Young's free-kick beats him and lands underneath the crossbar

Heurelho Gomes can only watch on as Ashley Young's free-kick beats him and lands underneath the crossbar

Gomes shows his displeasure after Watford meekly surrendered their early superiority against Jose Mourinho's side

Gomes shows his displeasure after Watford meekly surrendered their early superiority against Jose Mourinho's side

Here, he ran forward with such pace, single-mindedness and directness than he terrified the Watford defenders and by the time they realised what was happening he had driven a low right-foot shot across goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes and in to the far corner.

It could be argued that he didn't actually beat that many players on his way to goal. He skipped past Adrian Mariappa but perhaps only one other. The key point, though, is that Lingard scared the Watford players in to a retreat and as a result scored a goal that sealed the game.

It was really important that United did win, too. They face Arsenal in the Premier League in London on Saturday evening and then host City eight days later. So a point – instead of three – would have been a real setback.

Earlier in the game, there had appeared to be no chance that United wouldn't win.

Watford had started well and were the dominant team in the opening 15 minutes or so. But once Young scored his first goal midway through the half the pattern of the game changed.?

Anthony Martial is crowded out by Watford players as he looks to keep the momentum with Manchester United

Anthony Martial is crowded out by Watford players as he looks to keep the momentum with Manchester United

Watford's Brazilian striker Richarlison attempts to win the ball from underneath United defender Victor Lindelof

Watford's Brazilian striker Richarlison attempts to win the ball from underneath United defender Victor Lindelof

Watford midfielder Abdoulaye Doucoure recovers the ball as United striker Romelu Lukaku battles close by

Watford midfielder Abdoulaye Doucoure recovers the ball as United striker Romelu Lukaku battles close by

United midfielder Paul Pogba makes his feelings known after a refereeing decision goes the other way

United midfielder Paul Pogba makes his feelings known after a refereeing decision goes the other way

Watford striker Richarlison can only watch as his header hits the top of the crossbar and goes out for a corner kick

Watford striker Richarlison can only watch as his header hits the top of the crossbar and goes out for a corner kick

Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho checks on Nemanja Matic after the midfielder's second-half withdrawal

Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho checks on Nemanja Matic after the midfielder's second-half withdrawal

Lukaku actually did well in the build-up and that, for him, was rare.

He won the ball and fed Lingard higher up the field. Then, when the ball was moved on to Young, the former Watford player smashed it low in to Gomes' right hand corner with real accuracy from the edge of the penalty area.

A goal up against the run of play, United moved through the gears impressively. Young's second goal – a fantastic right foot free-kick from 30 yards – arrived five minutes later and then Watford players missed three opportunities to clear, enabling Anthony Martial to beat Gomes, this time to the Brazilian's left.

As United had improved, Watford had fallen apart. They had regressed territorially and emotionally and in many way this inconsistency summed up their season under Marco Silva so far.

Just before half-time Watford's Brazilian Richarlison headed against the bar but, that apart, there was absolutely no hint of a comeback from the home team. Nor would there have been one had Lukaku not proved so feckless in front of goal with 15 minutes left.?

United striker Lukaku wasted a great opportunity to put the game beyond Watford's reach in the second-half

United striker Lukaku wasted a great opportunity to put the game beyond Watford's reach in the second-half

The Belgian dithered when clean through on goal, missing his first effort before a second was eventually blocked and cleared

The Belgian dithered when clean through on goal, missing his first effort before a second was eventually blocked and cleared

Troy Deeney brought Watford back into the game after sending David De Gea the wrong way from 12 yards out

Troy Deeney brought Watford back into the game after sending David De Gea the wrong way from 12 yards out

Jesse Lingard finishes low beyond Heurelho Gomes after dribbling from inside his own half to the edge of the Watford area

Jesse Lingard finishes low beyond Heurelho Gomes after dribbling from inside his own half to the edge of the Watford area

With just the goalkeeper to beat, the Belgian's lack of belief was laid bare as he dallied over the chance, almost falling over the ball and then managing to find some space only to shoot against the leg of a defender who had found the time to get in to a covering position.

It didn't seem significant at the time and ultimately it didn't cost United anything more than some shredded nerves.?

But it was another dismal moment in Lukaku's deteriorating season and it will be interesting to see if he survives to start at Arsenal on Saturday.

Watford's late path back in to the game arrived almost immediately as Marcos Rojo felled Roberto Pereyra in the penalty box. It was a dreadful challenge and Deeney scored from the spot.?

Eight minutes later Pereyra was involved again, squaring the ball for Doucoure to score right-footed.

At that point anything seemed possible and it was always likely that there would be one more chance. As it was, Lingard managed to create and finish it all by himself.

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