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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 18 September 2018

Jose Mourinho: Marouane Fellaini's 'simple' play helped Manchester United to Watford win

Belgian midfielder's role in supporting defence vital to his manager in United winning second successive away game

Marouane Fellaini, right, challenging for the ball with Troy Deeney, was credited by Jose Mourinho by being vital to his side's 2-1 victory at Watford.  Ross Kinnaird / Getty Images
Marouane Fellaini, right, challenging for the ball with Troy Deeney, was credited by Jose Mourinho by being vital to his side's 2-1 victory at Watford.  Ross Kinnaird / Getty Images

Jose Mourinho hailed Marouane Fellaini as the cure to Manchester United's defensive ailments following another impressive display from the midfielder in a narrow victory at Watford.

United prevailed 2-1 at Vicarage Road as first-half goals from Romelu Lukaku and Chris Smalling were enough for the visitors to end Watford's perfect start to the Premier League campaign.

Andre Gray struck in the second half but United hung on at the end despite Nemanja Matic's stoppage-time dismissal to pick up back-to-back league wins for the first time this season.

Fellaini's header set-up what proved to be Smalling's match-winning volley and also did well in his position as a shield to United's often-nervy back line.

The 30-year-old signed a new deal at Old Trafford over the summer and came into the side for the win at Burnley ahead the international break, with Mourinho's side having lost to Brighton and Tottenham before visiting Turf Moor.

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"We made defensive mistakes against Brighton and against Tottenham," Mourinho said.

"Against Brighton we didn't deserve to win, against Tottenham I think we did - but (in the two games we conceded) six goals and made defensive mistakes.

"Then we go to two matches away, difficult matches. I felt that my central defenders need, especially in this moment of a bit of instability, they need somebody to support them and give them the first wall, physically.

"Marouane is giving us more than that, he is giving that but also quality and simplicity. He is playing simple and well. I'm really happy."

Mourinho made one change to the victory at Burnley, with Luke Shaw not featuring in the matchday squad after suffering concussion while playing for England last weekend.

Ashley Young came in against his former club but Mourinho confirmed Shaw will start in the Champions League against Young Boys on Wednesday.

He also praised the spirit his side showed to defend their lead in the closing stages, even if he felt they should have been home and hosed by that point.

"I am very happy with the points," he said.

"I am very happy with the spirit. I feel a bit frustrated because we had everything in the first half.

"If we played the second half the way we did the last part of the first half we would be in this moment with a completely different result.

"The beginning of the second half we let the game go down in intensity and stopped being aggressive. We gave them the chance to be reborn, score a goal and give us a difficult match."

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