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Ratings: McTominay the MOTM after scoring the only goal to beat Watford; Henderson clean sheet, Telles got an assist

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Manchester United beat Watford 1-0 in the Emirates FA Cup at Old Trafford on Saturday evening. Scott McTominay, who captained United in this match, scored the only goal of the game in the fifth minute, assisted by Alex Telles from the corner. There were a few chances throughout the match but United seemed to be out of sorts, as were the visitors. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be happy to see his club into the fourth round of the FA Cup with the draw for that and the fifth round being drawn on Monday evening. United got back to winning ways after being knocked out of the Carabao Cup earlier in the week. Burnley next in the Premier League.

United started in fine fettle against their Championship opposition and that was made even better with Scott McTominay, the captain for the evening, opening the scoring in the fifth minute of the match. Alex Telles provided the assist from a corner with McTominay rising to bounce his header into the back of the net, beating Daniel Bachmann. McTominay likes to score an early goal and this was his third this season, scoring twice against Leeds United back in December 2020 in the opening three minutes. Minutes later, Mason Greenwood was released into the box but was unable to score United’s second goal of the match.

Watford tried to get themselves back into the match and had some chances to do just that, which did not change the scoreline. In the 19th minute of the match, Juan Mata curled a good ball into the box but it was deflected for a corner, which nearly resulted in United’s second goal of the match after Telles took the corner and an unmarked Eric Bailly nearly headed into goal but was a few inches wide of the target. Ismaila Sarr, who is perhaps too good to be playing Championship football, showed his electric pace at times with the visitors looking to level the scoreline and get themselves back into the game.

There was a penalty shout in the 32nd minute of the match after Watford swung in a corner from the left and after United failed to clear the danger, the ball bounced up and his Bailly on the hand. After a brief look, VAR decided that it was not a penalty, so nothing was given – rightfully so. Watford then put more pressure on United, seeking that equaliser. Sarr was then booked in the 38th minute of the match after he pulled back Jesse Lingard, who started for the first time in ages tonight. Andre Grey and Sarr played well in trying to get Watford level, but nothing seemed to be working out for them.

Telles had a shot in the 41st minute of the match, trying his luck from distance with a low drive but it was dealt with by Bachmann. The Watford goalkeeper then made a save in the 43rd minute to deny Mata after he was sent through on goal with a great back heel from Donny van de Beek, who returned to the starting XI today. In the 45th minute, just before half time, Dean Henderson collided with Bailly, who received a head injury with the goalkeeper coming out the clear the ball. After treatment, Bailly went straight down the tunnel and was replaced by Harry Maguire.

At the end of the first half, United had 70% possession, having 13 shots on goal, five off target, four blocked and four on target, scoring one goal. At the start of the second half, Watford immediately tried to get back into the game with Joao Pedro firing over the crossbar. Two minutes later, United had another chance with Daniel James having a shot on goal but it lost power before it could cause any danger for the visitors. On the hour, Mata played a good ball into Mason Greenwood who was unmarked on the edge of the box but the forward played his shot straight into Bachmann, causing no problems at all.

Axel Tuanzebe was booked in the 65th minute for kicking the ball away after giving away a foul, which was a sign of frustration from the player, in my opinion. Solskjaer has both Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial warming up and they were brought on for James and Greenwood in the 69th minute of the match. In the 72nd minute, Alex Telles was booked for pulling back Pedro to hand Watford a free-kick in a promising position but Ken Sema’s resulting set play drifted just past the far post. Watford then had a chance through Grey after Marc Navarro dinked the ball into the former but his header was off target.

Solskjaer made a fourth substitution in the 79th minute with Nemanja Matic replacing Lingard. In the 81st minute, Rashford then made a charge and burst past Ben Wilmot and got a shot away but Bachmann read the strike and made an east save to deny the United forward, who has already scored 14 goals so far this season. Watford still had plenty to do but had a chance five minutes from time but Joseph Hungbo’s strike was deflected wide of the far post. McTominay, for me is the Man of the Match in this match for the impact he had on the game, scoring the only goal to put United into the fourth round of the Emirates FA Cup.

Manchester United

26 Dean Henderson

Led well in his area and commanded his line. Seemed to have injured Bailly when trying to clear the ball, which was an unfortunate accident. This was a better performance for the club than against City in the Carabao Cup. Solskjaer and Henderson will be happy with that.

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33 Brandon Williams

Played at right-back nd being right-footed, he did well in the position. Watford never really tested United throughout the match but had a few chances on goal. Williams may look to take on Wan-Bissaka in the right-back position seeing as Shaw and Telles are rivals for he left-back role.

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3 Eric Bailly

Played a good game in the first half and was starting to look like one of the best defenders in the squad this season. A clash with Henderson, who was collecting the ball, seemingly put him on the injury list again as he came off in added time at the end of the first half, replaced by Maguire.

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38 Axel Tuanzebe

Had a good defensive game, partnering Bailly in the first half and Maguire in the second. He was booked for kicking the ball away in frustration, but other than that, this was a positive performance which allowed other players to rest and also put him in contention face Burnley next week.

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27 Alex Telles

Did well against Watford. He got the assist for the opening goal in the fifth minute, scored by McTominay after taking the corner. His set-piece taking is good to see and he gets forward a lot of the time, doing well with his crosses too. Almost scored, but saw his effort fail to hit the back of the net. Good to see him back and confident after a poor period at left-back which resulted in Shaw coming back into the squad.

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39 Scott McTominay

MOTM for me. Some will disagree, but this is my opinion. He did well to score the opening goal and gave his all in midfield, playing with players that he had not played much time on the pitch with this season. He captained United against Watford and this could not have been a more fitting match for him to show what it means to play for United.

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34 Donny van de Beek

Good to see him get some time on the pitch for once this season. I think he needs to play more, but the manager and the player will have an understanding why he's been on the bench. Played in a good back heel for Mata but the Spaniard failed to score the goal.

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14 Jesse Lingard

Played for the first time in ages. Did well at times but did not look fully up to speed. Came off in the 79th minute after he was replaced by Matic.

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8 Juan Mata

Did well for United after not playing for a while. Had some good plays with the ball. Van de Beek back heeled a goos ball for him but he could not score United's second goal of the game.

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21 Daniel James

Did not have the bets of matches but his playing time has been impacted this season. Used his pace at times but I feel his confidence could do with a bolstering this season. Replaced by Rashford in the 69th minute of the match.

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11 Mason Greenwood

Led the line well and had a few chances but nothing that could have seen United take charge of the match. He was replaced by Martial in the 69th minute of the match.

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Substitutes

5 Harry Maguire

Replaced Bailly 45+5'. Came on after a Bailly injury at the end of the first half. Commanded the defence well and did what he needed to do. Will be thankful of the slight rest ahead of the next match against Burnley on Tuesday.

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10 Marcus Rashford

Replaced James 69'. Had a chance in the last eight minute of the match but it did not come off. His introduction saw more attacking play from United, but no more goals were scored.

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9 Anthony Martial

Replaced Greenwood 69'. Added some attacking threat but was unable to score in a cameo performance. United got the result they needed with just one goal scored.

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31 Nemanja Matic

Replaced Lingard 79'. Did what he needed to do in midfield for United. Only has 11 minutes plus added time on the pitch. Will be thankful of the break and might play against Liverpool next weekend.

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Goals: Scott McTominay 5′

Assists: Alex Telles 5′

Manchester United: Henderson; Williams, Bailly (Maguire 45+5′), Tuanzebe, Telles; McTominay, Van de Beek; Lingard (Matic 79′), Mata, James (Rashford 69′); Greenwood (Martial 69′)

Substitutes Not Used: De Gea; Wan-Bissaka; Fred, Fernandes; Ighalo

Bookings: Axel Tuanzebe 65′, Alex Telles 72′; Ismaila Sarr 38′

Written by John Walker

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