Juan Mata powered Manchester United to their fourth consecutive victory in all competitions Wednesday.
United were up against Watford, who put up a spirited show before going down at the Old Trafford.
The Hornets had their share of chances in both the halves but they failed to convert those opportunities. Such opportunities do not come often when you are playing against a revitalised United.
Nigerian striker Ighalo had at least three-four chances to put Watford in the driving seat. David de Gea, yet again held the fortress by making a number of outstanding saves. A well-deserved clean sheet for the Spaniard, who has been in top form.
Anthony Martial played as the striker with Marcus Rashford, who is already establishing himself as one of the best in business in front of the goals, in the right wing and Memphis Depay on the left. These three created a number of chances, especially Rashford, but United were unable to break the Hornet defense.
Had Miguel Britos not fouled Martial just outside the penalty box in the 83rd minuted, Watford would have at least shared the spoils with United. Juan Mata's curler from 20 yards beat Gomes and found the left-top corner of the goal and that propelled United to a much-needed victory against Watford, Wednesday.
"I am very happy for the players because they have fought until the end, and they knew out on the pitch that our competitors were losing. We wanted to win, you have to win against Watford at home, I think, but it was a difficult game because of the wind," Van Gaal was quoted as saying by ManUtd.com.
"It became a physical game and, when you see the size of our opponents compared to us, it's very difficult for us. We fought until the end and scored a goal, so I am very happy for them."
United have now moved up to the fifth position (47 points) in the English Premier League points table, just one point behind Manchester City (48 points) and four behind Arsenal (51 points). City, on the other, were handed a 3-0 drubbing by Liverpool at the Anfield, Wednesday. Arsenal also lost against Swansea City FC 2-1. Earlier Tuesday, The Baggies held Leicester City in a 2-2 draw.
This win against Watford has brought United back into the UEFA Champions League reckoning once again. The fans will hope that this rejuvenated side will give them something to cheer by the end of the season.
"We have to win also against West Brom, because we have to continue this, and then you're close again [to the contenders]. Against Arsenal, we played very well, and today was more of a fighting game. Watford were making it very difficult for us, so the victory tastes very good, especially when our competitors have lost," Van Gaal added.
The Dutchman also believes that this positive atmosphere in the dressing room will accelerate the recovery of the Red Devils players as well.
"We are fighting. In the fight, we can play fantastic matches against Arsenal, and I believe against Midtjylland we also played very well. The win against Shrewsbury Town was the start of the run of victories," Van Gaal said.
"I think the youngsters have given us a lot of spirit, and now when you see the dressing room full of joy with all the players laughing, it's beautiful to see. I think that shall also accelerate the recovery of the players."
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