Watford’s first victory at Vicarage Road since August was secured thanks to goals from Joshua King, Ismaila Sarr, Emmanuel Dennis, and Joao Pedro, piling pressure on Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, whose side has lost four of their past five league games.
Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea, one of the few – or only – players to emerge from the defeat with any credit, described the loss as “embarrassing” and “unacceptable”, and apologized to the club’s fans.
United’s defeat was their fourth in five games, and their heaviest against newly promoted rivals in over 30 years. Despite the gravity of the setback, Solskjaer – who was booed by the away fans at full-time – claimed he thought “we can turn this around” following the defeat, which leaves United 12 points behind leaders Chelsea after just two games.
After Cristiano Ronaldo’s knock down following England winger Jadon Sancho’s seeking cross, forgotten man Donny van de Beek – sent on to replace McTominay, who incurred a yellow card – put the ball in the net.
However, Solskjaer’s agony worsened as Harry Maguire was booked twice in seven minutes and sent off.
On 77 minutes, a ray of hope appeared when Van de Beek found Ronaldo with a through ball, but the Portugal captain’s goal was called out for offside.
Joao Pedro and Dennis added a third and fourth goals in the dying minutes of the game, much to the delight of the raucous Watford fans.
The defeat means United have tumbled down the table to seventh on 17 points, while Claudio Ranieri’s side are only four points behind them in 16th.
In Other Matches:
- Leicester City 0-3 Chelsea
- Aston Villa 2-0 Brighton
- Burnley 3-3 Crystal Palace
- Norwich City 2-1 Southampton
- Wolves 1-0 West Ham
Watford vs Manchester United 2:1 Highlights
Opta facts: Historic United defeat to promoted opposition
- This was Manchester United’s biggest league defeat against a promoted side since September 1989, and a 5-1 loss against Manchester City at Maine Road.
- Watford have won back-to-back home league games against Manchester United for the first time.
- Only in 2001-02 (11 games) have Manchester United conceded 20+ goals after fewer games in a single Premier League campaign than they have this term.
- Josh King’s goal for Watford was his fifth Premier League goal against Manchester United, with the Norwegian only netting more in the competition against Everton (8).
- Manchester United keeper David De Gea has saved the last two penalties he’s faced in the Premier League, the same number that he’d managed from his previous 31 faced in the competition.
- Donny van de Beek’s goal was just his second in the Premier League for Manchester United, with his first also coming as a substitute on his debut in the competition in September 2020.
- Harry Maguire was sent off for the first time in his Manchester United career, on what was his 121st appearance for the club in all competitions.