The former Manchester United midfielder – who had only been on the field for six minutes – thumped James Tomkins’ clearance into the top corner for his first goal since December 2017. Tom Cleverley’s superb second-half volley helped Watford come from behind to beat Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park.
Palace had taken the lead seven minutes before half-time, Abdoulaye Doucoure’s attempted clearance rebounding off the unfortunate Craig Cathcart and past the despairing dive of Vicente Guaita.
The victory lifts the Hornets into seventh place in the table, while Palace remain in 14th – just four points above the relegation zone. The Watford centre-back atoned for his own goal midway through the second half when he headed Jose Holebas’ corner into the roof of the net.
And Cleverley struck just seven minutes later to earn Javi Gracia’s side a hard-earned three points.
Missed opportunity for Palace
There has been an element of Jekyll and Hyde about Palace’s performances of late.
Eye-catching victories at Manchester City and Wolverhampton Wanderers have lifted Roy Hodgson’s side away from the relegation zone in recent weeks, but the Eagles had failed to land a goal in both their last two league games at Selhurst Park, prior to Saturday’s encounter.
They also needed a late Jordan Ayew goal to squeeze past League Two Grimsby Town in the third round of the FA Cup.
But the Eagles went in front against Watford in fortuitous circumstances as Cathcart deflected Doucoure’s clearance past his own goalkeeper. They deserved their narrow half-time lead, though, after keeping Watford’s potent attack at bay for the majority of the first 45 minutes.
Wilfried Zaha, who has not found the net since September 2018, should have doubled his side’s lead three minutes into the second half when he failed to beat Ben Foster in a one-on-one situation.
James McArthur then failed to connect with Zaha’s low cross as Palace dominated the beginning of the second period, before two Watford goals in seven minutes turned the match on its head.
Hodgson’s team have now scored just six league goals on their own turf this season – only Huddersfield have netted fewer goals at home.
Fortunate Watford continue fine away form
Watford have now collected 18 points on their travels this season – two more than they managed in the entirety of last term.
Gracia’s charges have had few problems scoring goals, netting 13 in their last seven league matches before Saturday’s game, but the Hornets struggled for long periods at Selhurst Park and failed to register a single shot on target in a disappointing first-half display.
They spurned a glorious opportunity to take the lead after just three minutes, Gerard Deulofeu striking the foot of the post before Roberto Pereyra rattled the woodwork from the rebound with the goal at his mercy.
That was the closest they came to an equaliser until Cathcart hauled the visitors level with their first effort on target.
Their second shot on goal proved to be the winner, Cleverley’s magnificent volley sending the away fans into raptures and lifting Watford back into seventh place above West Ham United and Leicester City.
They could have added a third five minutes from time, but Deulofeu’s goal-bound free-kick was blocked by Aaron Wan-Bissaka.
Source: BBC News