Sport Soccer

Wednesday 21 November 2018

Captain Carrick signs off with a win as Manchester United sink Watford

Rashford goal gives midfielder a victorious Old Trafford farewell.

Michael Carrick said his farewells to Old Trafford
Michael Carrick said his farewells to Old Trafford

By Andy Hampson, Press Association Sport

Michael Carrick bade farewell to Old Trafford by helping set up the goal that delivered a 1-0 win for Manchester United over Watford.

The veteran midfielder, who is retiring this summer, captained United as they wrapped up their Premier League campaign.

Marcus Rashford scored the only goal after 34 minutes, tapping in after Carrick’s superb long pass had played Juan Mata in behind the Hornets defence.

With United thinking about next week’s FA Cup final and making nine changes – and Watford probably looking forward to their summer holidays – the game was short on intensity.

Rashford’s goal will at least have done his Wembley prospects no harm, particularly with the fitness of Romelu Lukaku still uncertain.

The likes of David de Gea, Paul Pogba, Nemanja Matic, Chris Smalling and Phil Jones were all rested as Carrick was given centre stage after a season of little action. It was his 464th – and in all likelihood, barring a spate of injuries in the coming week – last appearance for United. He was given 85 minutes before leaving to a huge ovation.

It took some time for either side to carve out a decent opening. Alexis Sanchez, who might also have sat out had Anthony Martial not pulled out injured, had United’s first chance but sliced wide from Mata’s cross.

Watford were forced to make a change on 21 minutes after Christian Kabasele collided with the advertising hoardings behind the goal having challenged Sanchez.

Rashford delivered a dangerous-looking ball into the box but Daryl Janmaat cleared over his own bar and Marcos Rojo volleyed wide.

The breakthrough came after as Carrick picked out Mata with a superb pass over the defence. The Spaniard timed his run perfectly and teed up a simple finish for Rashford.

Watford had offered little until this point but they almost snatched a quickfire equaliser. It took a brilliant point-blank save from Sergio Romero, looking the equal of De Gea, to keep out a Richarlison header. Gerard Deulofeu also fired a shot straight at the United goalkeeper.

There was even less goalmouth action in the second period with both sides largely going through the motions.

Sanchez did shake off a defender but then overhit a cross for Mata at the back post.

Manager Jose Mourinho gave the crowd the chance to show their appreciation to Carrick with five minutes remaining, bringing off the 36-year-old and replacing him with Pogba.

Press Association

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