Crystal Palace 2 Watford 1: Sako, McArthur stun Hornets

12 diciembre 2017 22:57

Crystal Palace came from behind to beat Watford 2-1 in dramatic fashion as the Eagles netted twice in the closing stages to move out of the Premier League's bottom three.

Roy Hodgson's men - on a five-match unbeaten run - looked destined for defeat as they headed into the final two minutes of normal time trailing to Daryl Janmaat's early goal.

But Tom Cleverley saw red for a pair of bookings in quick succession and Watford imploded, Bakary Sako scrambling in an 89th-minute equaliser before fellow substitute James McArthur netted the winner in stoppage time.

Wilfried Zaha, mocked by the visiting fans throughout, was instrumental in creating both goals as a sensational turnaround lifted Palace to 17th following a miserable start to the season.

Late drama has been a consistent feature of Palace's home form under Hodgson and this was the perfect tonic for their disappointment on Saturday, when Christian Benteke went against his manager's orders to take and miss a 93rd-minute penalty that cost the team two points.

The goals came at either end of a largely dull game and it took Watford just three minutes to stun a raucous home crowd with the opener. 

Richarlison was typically industrious on the left flank as he kept a waning attack alive and crossed towards Janmaat, ghosting in at the far post to power a header high past Julian Speroni.

The visitors remained on the front foot and only Scott Dann's vital challenge kept Janmaat from scoring again after trading passes with Troy Deeney to tear a hole through the nervy home defence.

Andros Townsend propelled a powerful strike just wide at the other end, but Palace continued to struggle with threat of Richarlison, wreaking havoc with his direct running and almost finding the bottom-right corner from the edge of the area.

And Richarlison's next involvement should have led to a second Watford goal, with Deeney somehow screwing a finish wide when the Brazilian fed in a pinpoint cross.

Hodgson's men improved towards the end of the first half and came out for the restart with optimism renewed, but Watford weathered the storm and only a sharp Speroni stop kept the unmarked Richarlison from netting with a low effort following Janmaat's centre.

As a scrappy game ticked into the final 20 minutes, the visitors' wait for an ambush from the Palace attack wore on and Silva's side initially succeeded in holding their opponents at arm's length.

Indeed, it looked as though the Eagles' best chance had come and gone when Ruben Loftus-Cheek failed to shoot on target as Heurelho Gomes flapped at a rare dangerous cross.

Zaha curled just over the top as Palace kept the pressure on in the closing stages and Watford's propensity for a red card struck again as Cleverley earned two bookings in quick succession.

Palace and Zaha sensed the opportunity and the winger's low strike was parried by Gomes only as far as Sako, who bundled the ball beyond the prone goalkeeper.

The hosts kept pushing and Zaha dazzled again on the left and centred for McArthur to send the home crowd into ecstasy.


Key Opta stats:

- Crystal Palace have picked up 10 points from their last six Premier League games, as many as they managed from their previous 17 in the competition.
- Watford have been given eight red cards in the Premier League since the start of 2016-17, more than any other side.
- The Eagles find themselves out of the relegation zone for the first time since the very first day of the 2017-18 Premier League season (11/08/2017).
- Julian Speroni made his 400th appearance for Crystal Palace in all competitions, 4868 days since his debut for the Eagles (14/08/2004).
- Daryl Janmaat has netted three goals in his last four Premier League away games, after just one in his previous 47.
- Richarlison has had a hand in eight away Premier League goals (4 goals, 4 assists), a joint-high this season with Mohamed Salah (7 goals, 1 assist).

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