|match review copied from www.theguardian.com|
Deeney and Deulofeu seal Watford win over West Ham and raise Europe hopes
Paul Doyle at the London Stadium
datePublished Sat 22 Dec 2018 17.06 GMT
More than 30 years have elapsed since Watford embarked on their one and only campaign in Uefa competition but maybe it is time to start talking about the prospect of another one. Goals by Troy Deeney and Gerard Deulofeu gave Javi Gracia’s team a deserved victory here against a club who came into this season with lofty hopes but now find themselves below the accomplished Hertfordshire side, as do many others.
West Ham also had to deal with more off-field woes, as home supporters in a section of the ground complained of being hurt by falling glass from a broken bulb in a floodlight. The club said they were not aware of the incident.
Of the events on the pitch Manuel Pellegrini said West Ham deserved at least a draw, and it is true that Michail Antonio twice headed against the frame of the goal. Yet Gracia had good cause to claim he was “never scared about the result” because overall his team were the more coherent and they, too, created several chances to score more than two goals.
Gracia was a youth-team coach at Villarreal nearly a decade ago when Pellegrini was the main man at the Spanish club but here the managers arrived as the closest of peers, their teams starting the day on the same number of points and virtually identical records. Watford went on to suggest they are the more upwardly mobile.
That might have been different if Javier Hernández had scored in the third minute after a cross by Antonio but he was foiled by an excellent tackle by Christian Kabasele. That was the first sign of the ordeal that lay ahead for the Mexico striker, who fluffed two more chances in the second half before a hamstring problem forced his substitution.
Once West Ham’s initial vibrancy subsided, Watford emerged as the more authoritative team. Fabián Balbuena saved the home side on three occasions, making critical blocks to deny Deeney, Roberto Pereyra and Deulofeu.
The slick combination between Pereyra and Deulofeu was a recurring feature of Watford’s attacks and eventually undid the hosts in the 28th minute. This time Balbuena’s intervention was ill-timed, his tackle on Pereyra giving Watford a penalty and injuring his own knee.
Deeney ignored barracking from the home fans to thrash the spot-kick into the net. Then he ran over to celebrate in front of those fans, hitting a corner flag out of its hole as he went. The referee chided the player. Someone should have a word with the West Ham fans, too, to remind them that ridiculing Deeney tends to be counterproductive: two years ago at this ground, after Watford recovered from two goals down to beat West Ham 4-2, the striker said the comeback had been motivated by the sense that West Ham were trying to “mug us off”.
Antonio tried to lead a West Ham comeback here with a ferocious long-range shot that Ben Foster batted away. But that was a rare opening as Watford defended solidly and threatened to increase their lead on the counter.
West Ham worked up a storm early in the second half but precision still eluded them. Antonio was unfortunate not to equalise, his header from a Snodgrass corner bouncing out off the post.
Watford kept looking for a second goal on the break. Lukasz Fabianski had trouble repelling a shot by Pereyra after a lovely pass by Abdoulaye Doucouré, the goalkeeper thankful the rebound fell just behind Deeney. Moments later Doucouré was foiled by a magnificent save by Fabianksi, who pushed the midfielder’s blast from 10 yards over the bar. Then it was Doucouré’s turn to rush to the rescue, his perfectly timed tackle preventing Hernández from drawing West Ham level after a pass by Felipe Anderson, who was mostly subdued by Kiko Femenía.
Deeney should have made Watford more comfortable but shot straight at Fabianksi after a through-ball by Tom Cleverley. Instead Gracia’s side nearly lost their lead, Foster making a terrific save from a deflected Snodgrass header before Antonio nodded the rebound against the bar. In the 87th minute Deulofeu wrapped up the win at last, finishing smartly from eight yards after a delightful exchange with Pereyra.
Daily Mail: PLAYER RATINGS, LEAGUE TABLE AND MATCH ZONE
West Ham: Fabianski, Zabaleta, Balbuena (Ogbonna 34), Diop, Masuaku, Snodgrass, Noble (Carroll 56), Rice, Felipe Anderson, Antonio, Hernandez (Diangana 75)
Subs not used: Cresswell, Adrian, Obiang, Xande Silva
Watford: Foster, Femenia, Kabasele, Cathcart, Holebas, Doucoure, Capoue, Sema (Cleverley 75), Pereyra, Deulofeu (Mariappa 90+1), Deeney (Success 86)
Subs not used: Gomes, Masina, Quina, Okaka
Goals: Deeney pen 30, Deulofeu 87
Booked: Kabasele, Holebas
Referee: Lee Mason (Lancashire)