Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal praised young defender Timothy Fosu-Mensah after the Reds’ narrow win over Watford yesterday.

The 18-year-old made his first full start for United against the Hornets and put in a composed performance at centre-back, often covering Daley Blind’s mistakes and putting in some meaty tackles.

Despite an early first-half booking, Fosu-Mensah dealt with Watford’s strike duo Odion Ighalo and Troy Deeney well, and the United manager gave the young Dutchman high praise after the final whistle.

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Speaking to MUTV, van Gaal said:

Timothy has saved us three times, I think, because of his speed. So I was very pleased that he was on the pitch. He wanted to be changed early in the second half [because he picked up a knock] but I let him stay on because he always closed the door for us.

Juan Mata’s late winner at Old Trafford gave United all three points, and the Reds are now level in fourth in the Premier League with neighbours Manchester City.

And van Gaal believes that the introduction of numerous youngsters during United’s current injury crisis has lifted the side:

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.