Watford 3-1 Manchester United: Super-Sub Zuniga downs poor United

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Manchester United continues to struggle putting the parts together as a whole, and they were downed by a true team effort.

Marcus Rashford appeared to have rescued a point for the visitors, but Juan Zuniga scored 50 seconds after coming on in the 83rd minute, and Watford earned a dramatic and deserved victory at Vicarage Road.

Watford took the game to Manchester United throughout the first 45 minutes. The home fans shouted for a penalty in the early going as they took a long throw into the box as Marouane Fellaini found himself with a fistful of Troy Deeney‘s shirt, but no call was made. Moments later, they had a big chance of the early going as a free-kick from Jose Holebas found Sebastian Proedl at the far post who headed across the face to an unmarked Deeney but it was just out of his reach.

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With the home side still roaring forward, Odion Igahlo had a glaring miss, failing to capitalize on a rare miss by David De Gea. The Manchester United goalkeeper came out to claim a long-ball for no one in particular, but miscommunication saw him barrel into Chris Smalling and they both spilled to the turf while the ball bounded free. Igahlo had a wide-open net, but his hit on the volley sailed harmlessly over the net. Yet another Watford chance before 20 minutes required De Gea to make a spectacular save as a header from Deeney tested the Spaniard.

Finally the visitors had a chance as a deflected cross came to Zlatan Ibrahimovic streaking at the far post but he struck the side-netting with a powerful shot. Paul Pogba nearly stunned the Vicarage Road crowd past the half-hour mark with an absolute thunderbolt from a good 25 yards out that smashed the crossbar so powerfully that it rebounded back out above the box.

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Finally, for all their earlier chances, Watford bagged a deserved opener. Anthony Martial was dispossessed deep on the right flank, and Darryl Janmaat found Etienne Capoue unmarked near the penalty spot to smash home the opener, his fourth goal of the season alrady. The moment was not without controversy, as Miguel Britos won the ball off Martial but also cleaned him out in the process, and referee Michael Oliver let it go. United was forced to substitute Martial off after the goal, clearly foggy from an earlier clash of heads.

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The second half was cagey past the hour mark until Manchester United took their moment to equalize. Ibrahimovic burst down the left on the break and lofted in the ball to Rashford in front of net. His first headed effort was weak and stopped by the wall of defenders, but the rebound fell to his feet and he recovered to poke home from point-blank range.

Watford appeared to be tiring, and United nearly won all three points with 11 minutes left. A beautiful ball in from Fellaini met the head of Ibrahimovic, who powered a header on net only kept out by a full-stretch save by Heurelho Gomez. Manager Walter Mazzarri brought on Zuniga for Capoue, and he became an instant hero when he buried Roberto Pereyra‘s cutback, producing a winner not unlike the opener.

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Manchester United could do nothing but get in their own way, and their urgency only served to win Watford a penalty deep into stoppage time. Troy Deeney thumped the penalty home, sealing the win.

United brought on Memphis Depay in desperation after falling behind, but it did no good. United’s loss leaves them a full six points behind leaders Manchester City, a significant gap so early in the season. Watford, meanwhile, earn their second win of the season to push them into the top half of the table, and they send Jose Mourinho to his third straight defeat in one season, something that hasn’t happened in 14 years.