LONDON: Manchester United cut Manchester City’s lead at the top of the Premier League to five points as Ashley Young inspired a 4-2 win against Watford, while Tottenham’s fading title hopes were extinguished by a 2-1 defeat at Leicester on Tuesday (Wednesday in Manila).
Young’s first United goals since May 2016 were followed by an Anthony Martial strike as United produced a scintillating first half at Vicarage Road.
United’s third consecutive league win was only secured after a late wobble as Troy Deeney and Abdoulaye Doucoure struck for Watford before Jesse Lingard settled the visitors’ nerves with a fine solo effort.
“It was an easy match to win comfortably, but at 3-2 the game is in the balance,” United manager Jose Mourinho said.
“We should be smoking cigars but then we were in trouble before Jesse Lingard had the initiative to kill the game.”
Although United have closed the gap on City, Pep Guardiola’s side, looking to make it 12 successive league victories, can reestablish their eight-point lead when they host Southampton on Wednesday.
Having provoked the Lewis Dunk own goal that clinched United’s win over Brighton on Saturday, Young opened the scoring against his old club in the 19th minute.
Picked out on the edge of the Watford penalty area by Lingard’s pass, Young smashed his shot into the bottom corner.
Young wasn’t finished yet and the wing-back doubled United’s lead with another sumptuous strike six minutes later as his 25-yard free-kick flashed past Watford goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes.
Martial netted United’s third in the 32nd minute with a cool finish from Romelu Lukaku’s pass for his eighth goal of the season.
Deeney’s 77th-minute penalty, awarded for Marcos Rojo’s foul on Roberto Pereyra, was followed by Doucoure’s strike in the 84th minute, but Lingard notched United’s fourth two minutes later.
At the King Power Stadium, Tottenham succumbed to a damaging defeat that leaves them with just one win in their last five league games.
England left-back Danny Rose was back in the Tottenham team after being dropped for their previous two league games.
But Rose’s presence did little for Tottenham, who fell behind in the 13th minute when Jamie Vardy bagged his 100th career league goal.
The Leicester striker’s milestone moment arrived with a superb volleyed finish from Marc Albrighton’s pass.
Riyad Mahrez made it two majestic strikes for Leicester in first half stoppage-time when the Algeria winger drilled an unstoppable shot into the top corner.
Tottenham winger Erik Lamela came on for his first appearance in 13 months and made an immediate impact as his pass teed up Harry Kane to blast in his 16th club goal of the season in the 79th minute.
But Mauricio Pochettino’s fifth-placed team couldn’t muster an equaliser and last season’s runners-up remain 13 points behind City.
“The first half was a poor performance and it was difficult to get back into the game,” Pochettino said.
“We feel very disappointed. We started the game not in the right way. We need to improve the way we start.”
Crystal Palace missed a chance to move off the bottom of the table as Roy Hodgson’s side settled for a 0-0 draw at rivals Brighton.
Palace would have climbed to 18th place with a win, but they were unable to break down Brighton in the first Premier League meeting between clubs who have a fierce rivalry despite being separated by 45 miles.
In their first meeting for over four years, south Londoners Palace picked up their first away league point this season, while south coast-based Brighton are now without a win in their last three league games.
West Bromwich Albion blew a two-goal lead as Newcastle rescued a 2-2 draw at the Hawthorns to leave the relegation-threatened hosts without a win in 12 league games.
West Brom forward Hal Robson-Kanu broke the deadlock in first half stoppage-time when he nodded in his first goal since August.
Sam Field got the second in the 56th minute, finishing off Matt Phillips’ cross for his first Albion goal.
But Ciaran Clark’s header reduced the deficit three minutes later and Newcastle avoided a fifth consecutive defeat thanks to a Jonny Evans own goal from Matt Ritchie’s 83rd-minute free kick.