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Result: Manchester United overcome Watford to go fourth in Premier League

Manchester United move above Arsenal into fourth position in the Premier League table courtesy of a 2-1 win against Watford.

Manchester United have moved above Arsenal into fourth position in the Premier League table courtesy of a 2-1 win against Watford at Old Trafford.

In what was Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's first match since being appointed permanent boss, the Red Devils secured three important points to return to the Champions League positions.

Watford were excellent for long spells of the contest, but goals from Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial saw the 20-time English champions return to winning ways following back-to-back defeats.

Manchester United's Marcus Rashford scores past Watford's Ben Foster in the Premier League on March 30, 2019© Reuters

United's team showed four changes from the one that started the FA Cup defeat at Wolverhampton Wanderers before the international break. Phil Jones, Ashley Young, Juan Mata and David de Gea all came in, with Sergio Romero, Jesse Lingard, Victor Lindelof and Diogo Dalot dropping out.

As for Watford, Troy Deeney and Gerard Deulofeu started as the front two, while a strong midfield included Abdoulaye Doucoure and Roberto Pereyra.

Doucoure had the game's first half-chance in the sixth minute, but the midfielder fired wide of the post from inside the United box, before Deeney missed the target from distance two minutes later.

Chris Smalling then headed wide of the Watford goal in the 10th minute as the home side had their first opportunity, but Javi Gracia's side remained on top and De Gea had to claw away a header from Deeney shortly after.

Rashford came close to meeting a through pass from Paul Pogba in the 17th minute as United looked to hurt the Hornets in behind, but Ben Foster was quick off his line to make the clearance.

De Gea was then again called into action down the other end, having to fly across his goal to keep out a powerful strike from Pereyra with Watford continuing to find space in dangerous positions.

Deulofeu was next to bring a save from De Gea in the 25th minute, before Martial had a penalty shout turned down after going down inside the box under a challenge from Miguel Britos.

United did make the breakthrough in the 28th minute, though, when Rashford raced onto an excellent pass from Luke Shaw before lifting the ball over the onrushing Foster.

Only a smart save from the Watford goalkeeper prevented Martial from smashing the home side two goals ahead in the 33rd minute, meanwhile, with the away side failing to deal with a corner.

Rashford's pace continued to cause the capital outfit issues in the latter stages of the first half, but United will have felt fortunate to have entered the half-time break ahead, with Watford having more opportunities in the opening 45 minutes of action.

Manchester United's Paul Pogba tangles with Watford's Will Hughes during their Premier League clash on March 30, 2019© Reuters

Deulofeu tested De Gea from distance in the early stages of the second period, before Daryl Janmaat missed the target from inside the United box as the visitors continued to threaten.

De Gea made some excellent stops on the afternoon, but one of his best arrived in the 53rd minute when he got down low to turn a Pereyra effort past the post.

There was not too much for the United fans to get excited about down the other end, though, with Solskjaer's team struggling to get going in the first 15 minutes of the second half.

Watford had another opportunity when Will Hughes found space inside the home side's box, but the midfielder's effort just curled wide of the far post as United stayed ahead.

Lingard and Andreas Pereira replaced Mata and Ander Herrera just past the hour mark, but the pattern of the match did not change as Watford continued to dominate in the majority of areas.

United found a second in the 72nd minute, however, when Martial managed to scoop the ball home from close range having initially seen his effort saved by Foster, with the goalkeeper unable to react to the second strike.

Watford threatened to make it an uncomfortable finish when Doucoure converted for 2-1 in the 90th minute, but United held on to secure an three important points in their battle to finish in the top four.

Next up for United is a trip to Wolverhampton Wanderers on Tuesday, while Watford will attempt to return to winning ways when they host struggling Fulham on the same night.

MANCHESTER UNITED (4-3-3): De Gea; Young, Jones, Smalling, Shaw; Herrera (Pereira 63'), Matic, Pogba; Mata (Lingard 63'), Rashford, Martial (Rojo 77')

WATFORD (4-4-2): Foster; Janmaat (Kiko 56'), Kabasele, Britos, Masina; Hughes (Success 82'), Doucoure, Capoue, Pereyra; Deeney, Deulofeu (Gray 74')

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Manchester United's Marcus Rashford celebrates scoring against Leicester City in the Premier League on February 3, 2019.
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Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Liverpool26251061154676
2Manchester CityMan City27183668293957
3Leicester CityLeicester27155754272750
4Chelsea2713594537844
5Tottenham HotspurSpurs2711794436840
6Sheffield UnitedSheff Utd27101072925440
7Manchester UnitedMan Utd2610883829938
8Burnley27114123339-637
9Wolverhampton WanderersWolves2681263532336
10Everton26106103438-436
11Arsenal2671363634234
12Southampton27104133448-1434
13Crystal Palace2789102432-833
14Newcastle UnitedNewcastle2787122441-1731
15Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton27610113239-728
16Bournemouth2775152643-1726
17Aston Villa2774163452-1825
18West Ham UnitedWest Ham2666143045-1524
19Watford2659122440-1624
20Norwich CityNorwich2646162448-2418

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