Manchester United

Manchester United

Premier League • England

Man Utd star’s defining moment and alarming statistic sum up frustration, as Watford claim unlikely draw

Cristiano Ronaldo, Ben Foster Man Utd v Watford February 2022

Manchester United failed to capitalise on complete dominance over Watford as they huffed and puffed to a 0-0 draw at Old Trafford.

The Red Devils had 22 shots against the Hornets but only managed three on target. Cristiano Ronaldo, Anthony Elanga and Bruno Fernandes all had numerous chances, but they had the ball cleared off the line twice – once inadvertently by Elanga.

Watford had half-chances at the start of both halves and late on as the hosts pushed for a winner. However, neither side could find a winner. It is an impressive point for Watford boss Roy Hodgson, but United will feel they have dropped two points in the Premier League top-four battle.

Watford in fact made the brighter start. Indeed, they had two successive corners before Jeremy Ngakia’s cross flashed across the United box.

From there, though, the hosts settled. They had 10 shots in the first half, but only one was on target.

Ronaldo hit the post before Fernandes had a shot blocked and Elanga blazed an effort over. What’s more, Fernandes should have squared for Ronaldo to score into an empty net. Instead, he allowed Ben Foster to save his shot.

Ronaldo did then have the ball in the net. However, the offside flag went up straight away and VAR confirmed the decision.

Moussa Sissoko and Josh King had half-chances for Watford. However, Man Utd continued their first-half dominance without scoring.

Two free-kicks from Fernandes and Alex Telles failed to produce a goal, while referee Kevin Friend dismissed Elanga’s penalty appeals when he went down under a challenge from Craig Cathcart.

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The second half started in the same fashion as the first. Indeed, a quick Watford corner saw Samir rise highest, but the centre-back failed to hit the target.

But in the same way, Ralf Rangnick’s side quickly dominated proceedings again. Pogba shot well wide from the far post and Ronaldo had a penalty appeal denied.

Up the other end, two quick crosses from Samir and Tom Cleverley failed to deliver while Emannuel Dennis had a shot saved by David de Gea in a wake-up call for the hosts.

When did Cristiano Ronaldo last score a free-kick?

Still, United were well on top and Elanga was involved in two more chances going begging. He shot wide of the far post and then inadvertently cleared Ronaldo’s effort behind for a goal-kick.

Watford goalkeeper Foster enjoyed a fantastic game and, having committed to a dive one way, he recovered fantastically to get across and keep Fernandes’ effort out.

Man Utd fail to break deadlock

Alex Telles, Ismaila Sarr Man Utd v Watford February 2022

By this point, the hosts had struck 15 shots but only two were on target.

As a result, Rangnick threw on Luke Shaw and Marcus Rashford for Telles and Nemanja Matic. Jadon Sancho had already come on for Fred.

Shaw put a couple of crosses in, but the script did not change as Watford stood firm and United fluffed their lines.

However, with the hosts pushing forward, Watford fancied their chances of dramatically nicking all three points.

But Juraj Kucka fired wide and Ken Sema misplaced a pass into Sissoko on another break.

Fernandes fired straight at Foster in United’s last big chance, but Watford came closer with their final foray. Sarr fired just over with Raphael Varane reluctant to come and meet him.

Hodgson will feel delighted with Watford‘s point as they look to avoid relegation. However, United will feel it is a missed chance to assert their authority in the top-four race.