Football: Mata free kick gives Man United 1-0 win over Watford

Manchester United's Tim Fosu-Mensah (L) challenged by Watford's Nordin Amrabat.
Manchester United's Tim Fosu-Mensah (L) challenged by Watford's Nordin Amrabat.PHOTO: EPA

LONDON (REUTERS)- A late free kick by midfielder Juan Mata gave Manchester United a laboured 1-0 home win over Watford after the visitors missed a flurry of chances in their Premier League clash on Wednesday.

The 27-year old Spaniard curled a superb shot from 25m into the top right corner in the 83rd minute, much to the relief of his manager Louis van Gaal, whose decision to play two strikers almost backfired.

"It was a good night for us but we have to keep going," Mata said a post-match interview.

"We are Manchester United, we don't give up and we have to keep going until the end (in the race for Champions League qualification)."

Fit-again Anthony Martial was deployed up front alongside 18-year-old Marcus Rashford, who had made a dream start to his United career by scoring four goals in his opening two games, but the pair looked toothless for much of the contest.

Watford's Nigerian striker Odion Ighalo missed three gilt-edged chances in the first half and Austrian defender Sebastian Proedl saw his header cleared off the line by Rashford, before Mata finally broke the deadlock.