Manchester United go top of EPL after late victory at Watford

BY Jerry Trecker • November 21, 2015

Bastian Schweinsteiger's 90th minute shot from a tight angle on the right was bundled over his own line by Troy Deeney to give Manchester United a 2-1 victory over Watford Saturday afternoon at Vicarage Road allowing United to move top of the Barclays Premier League, at least temporarily.

Deeney had brought Watford level with an 87th minute penalty kick only to wind up unable to keep Schweinsteiger's attempt out of the net as United shook off the shock of conceding its first goal in 632 minutes and swarmed back downfield to collect all three points.

Manchester City, Arsenal and Leicester City all had 3 p.m. kickoffs and the opportunity to leapfrog United, but the Old Trafford side was alone atop the league when those matches began. Watford, which thought it had grabbed a point when Deeney scored from the spot, remained 11th after its second straight loss ahead of the later matches.

United needed just 11 minutes to get on top after starting fast and testing the home defense with its patient, precise build up. Memphis Depay supplied the first-time left foot finish to a perfectly-flighted cross that Ander Herrera sent in from the right. 

The Dutch international, who had been criticized by manager Louis van Gaal  and got his spot because Wayne Rooney (ill) and Marouane Fellaini and Anthony Martial (injured) were not available, slipped between defenders to give Heurelho Gomes no chance to prevent just the fifth goal Watford had conceded at home this season.

An Ashley Young giveaway created the best chance for Watford in the 21st minute Schweinsteiger's outstanding recovery run prevented Odion Ighalo from have a clear look at goal after Deeney made the initial steal and pass. Ighalo wound up firing wide of goal as the veteran German international forced him wide in the box after spotting the error and racing back from the halfway line to defend.

That was a rare moment when Watford looked like they could get something from a match that rarely saw them play with the needed urgency or confidence required to stretch van Gaal's workmanlike side. David De Gea did have to get both hands behind a Deeney drive in the 56th minute and to produce a stunning reaction stop Almen Abdi's shot through traffic at the near post in the 71st minute. Deeney also put  his 75th minute effort straight at De Gea but the efforts were not looking like being enough to change the outcome.

United had nearly doubled the lead in the second minute of the second half after an error by Capoue helped Depay to set up Jesse Lingard's shot that Gomes saved extremely well. Lingard then should gave made everything safe for United when he chased down a 40-yard pass from Daley Blind and had Gomes at his mercy only to shoot directly into the keeper's hands when a simple tap to either side would have produced the second goal.

That error was punished just a minute later when Marcos Rojo wrapped up Igalho in the penalty area, then  appeared to trip the striker to create the penalty kick that Deeney slammed home. 

Credit United with finding another gear in the last minute, Gomes able to save from Lingard only for Schweinsteiger to pounce and Deeney to suffer the indignity of scoring the match-winner at the wrong end.

Despite the late winner, it was not all good news for United which saw its injury list grow when Herrera pulled up with an apparent right hamstring problem midway through the opening half. Defender Phil Jones also limped off, but did not appear to be seriously hurt, in the 70th minute after taking a knock.

That raises more selection concerns for van Gaal, who had just lost the services of Michael Carrick during the international break and faces a Champions League match against PSV Eindhoven on Wednesday.

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