More woe for Mou . . . as Man­ches­ter United stunned

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Sport Starts Here -

WAT­FORD piled on the mis­ery for Jose Mour­inho as Man­ches­ter United crashed to a third suc­ces­sive de­feat in an em­bar­rass­ing 3-1 loss at Vicarage Road yes­ter­day.

Mour­inho’s side were rocked by Eti­enne Capoue’s first half opener and, although Mar­cus Rash­ford equalised af­ter the break, United ca­pit­u­lated in the clos­ing stages.

Juan Camilo Zu­niga re­stored Wat­ford’s lead with seven min­utes left be­fore Troy Deeney’s penalty con­demned Mour­inho to a third con­sec­u­tive de­feat for the first time since he was in charge at Porto in 2002.

It was the first time United had lost three in a row since the un­la­mented Louis van Gaal presided over four suc­ces­sive de­feats in De­cem­ber last year.

Adding to the in­dig­nity for United, it was their first loss in 30 years against Wat­ford, who ended a run of 11 suc­ces­sive de­feats against the Man­ches­ter giants.

United are al­ready lag­ging six points be­hind Premier League lead­ers Man­ches­ter City and the feel-good fac­tor fol­low­ing the three wins that marked the start of the Mour­inho era has been com­pletely erased.

Af­ter los­ing to City, Feyeno­ord in the Europa League and now Wat­ford over the last week, the size of the task fac­ing Mour­inho as he re­builds United has been laid bare.

They looked out of sync from the mo­ment United goal­keeper David de Gea col­lided with Chris Smalling as they made a hash of deal­ing with Se­bas­tian Prodl’s tow­er­ing cross.

When de Gea dropped the ball straight to Odion Ighalo a goal seemed cer­tain, but the Wat­ford striker fired hur­riedly wide of the un­guarded net from the edge of the penalty area.

It was a shock­ing miss, but even that es­cape couldn’t shake United from their lethargy and De Gea had to throw him­self to his left to claw away a goal-bound header from Deeney mo­ments later.

Paul Pogba has strug­gled to live up to his world record fee since join­ing United and, amid another tepid dis­play, the France mid­fielder gave a sud­den glimpse of his abil­ity when he quickly shifted the ball to set him­self for a curl­ing 25-yard strike that left Wat­ford goal­keeper Heurelho Gomes rooted to the spot as it can­noned off the cross­bar.

But Wat­ford’s re­lent­lessly phys­i­cal ap­proach was wear­ing United down and An­thony Mar­tial needed sev­eral min­utes of treat­ment af­ter be­ing pole-axed by a clash of heads with Daryl Jan­maat.

Mar­tial even­tu­ally got to his feet but the France in­ter­na­tional still ap­peared groggy when he made a fatal mis­take in the 34th minute.

Dwelling too long on the ball deep in­side his own half, Mar­tial was caught in pos­ses­sion by Miguel Bri­tos and, with United’s de­fence com­pletely ex­posed, Jan­maat had time and space to pick out the un­marked Capoue, who drilled a clin­i­cal fin­ish past de Gea.

As Wat­ford cel­e­brated, Mour­inho ques­tioned whether Mar­tial had been fouled and the winger lay flat on the turf be­fore be­ing sub­sti­tuted.

That ig­no­min­ious exit en­cap­su­lated a for­get­table half for United, but they equalised with a rare in­ci­sive at­tack in the 62nd minute.

Rash­ford played a one-two with Ibrahi­movic and broke into the penalty area, where he showed his preda­tory in­stincts by sweep­ing home from close-range af­ter the Swede’s cross de­flected into his path off Valon Behrami.

Ibrahi­movic nearly won it for United in the 78th minute when he met Marouane Fel­laini’s cross with a pow­er­ful header that Gomes bril­liantly pushed away.

But United never looked con­vinc­ing and they crum­bled at the back in the 83rd minute as Zu­niga scored with his first touch less than a minute af­ter com­ing on.

Roberto Pereyra was unchecked when he raced onto Nordin Am­ra­bat’s pass into the United penalty area and he cut the ball back to Colom­bia de­fender Zu­niga, who lashed a fine strike past De Gea to leave Mour­inho ashen-faced.

There was even worse to come for Mour­inho in stop­page time when Fel­laini tripped Zu­niga in the area and Deeney stepped up to lash home the spot-kick. — Su­perS­port

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