“It was an end-to-end game that could have been 6-6,” said Deeney, who scored two of his side’s goals. “As entertainers, we are happy, but not as professionals, the only people that are happy are the fans. The defending from both teams was Sunday League at best, to be honest.”
Watford captain Troy Deeney said “Sunday League” defending contributed to his side’s astonishing 3-3 draw at Bournemouth, with all six goals arriving in a frenetic first half. The Cherries twice recovered a two-goal deficit and then levelled again after Ken Sema’s strike to peg the visitors back to 3-3.
Deeney’s textbook header from Sema’s cross gave the Hornets the lead and the forward scored his 117th goal for Watford when he lifted the ball over Cherries keeper Asmir Begovic after Gerard Deulofeu was tackled by Steve Cook.
But Bournemouth hit back thanks to Ryan Fraser’s free-kick deliveries, with Nathan Ake nodding in after visiting keeper Ben Foster brilliantly parried from Dan Gosling and Callum Wilson looping in a header to bring the hosts level.
Watford regained their lead 85 seconds later though, with Sema collecting a Deeney knock-down to drive a left-foot shot into the bottom corner from 20 yards.
However, that advantage lasted just over a minute as Fraser steered a right-foot shot into the bottom corner after Josh King’s dummy, to conclude an astonishing 13-minute spell that contained five goals. The result sees Watford move to eighth while Bournemouth remains 12th.
Defensive flaws contribute to classic
With Bournemouth captain, Simon Francis and full-back Adam Smith both long-term absentees, the extent of manager Eddie Howe’s injury problems were highlighted by his selection of Junior Stanislas at right-back.
While the forward added to Bournemouth’s attacking threat it did little to stabilise them at the other end of the pitch, with the quality of their defending contributing to all of Watford’s goals.
The first came through a lack of organisation, with Sema allowed to run clear before hanging up a cross for Deeney, who found the net with his header despite the presence of several Bournemouth defenders.
Cook then slid into a challenge on Deulofeu but careered into Deeney’s marker Ake to present the ball to the Watford striker to score his second.
For Watford’s third goal, Deeney won a header in front of Ake and Jefferson Lerma stood too far off Sema to be able to block the forward’s shot. “Defences weren’t on top, we didn’t get one or two situations right, but we’re going through one of those spells where every shot against us seems to go in,” said Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe.
With Watford hardly much better defensively, it led to a crazy end to the half. Despite Foster brilliantly keeping out Gosling’s header, they allowed the hosts three free headers inside their penalty box while conceding their first.
And they were all at sea when King’s step over gave Fraser the time to pick his spot for Bournemouth’s third.
Little and large excel in game of contrasts
The physical presence of Deeney was a nuisance throughout the game for the defensively feeble hosts. Bournemouth have now conceded 18 goals in their last six Premier League games and they struggled to contain Deeney’s power, particularly aerially – with the forward winning 50% of his headers.
Deeney’s movement was also good for both his goals as he intelligently held his runs to evade the attention of a home defence that he had outmuscled and outmanoeuvred.
In contrast, Bournemouth’s attacking thrust was expertly supplied by the diminutive Fraser, recalled by Howe after their 4-1 defeat at Manchester United on 30 December.
The 5ft 4in forward was undeterred by a high challenge from Abdoulaye Doucoure in the 29th minute that was described as a “recipe for a broken leg” by BBC Match of the Day summariser Jermaine Jenas.
And it was his technical quality and capacity to deliver dangerous set-pieces that were the basis for Bournemouth’s revival. The Scotland winger then displayed admirable composure to equalise at the end of the chaotic goal-laden period when it would have been so easy to snatch at the chance.
Man of the match – Troy Deeney (Watford)
Goal-crazy game – the stats
- The first half saw six goals scored; the most in the opening 45 minutes of a Premier League game since May 2015 (Southampton vs Aston Villa).
- There were just 12 minutes and 41 seconds between the second and sixth goals being scored.
- Bournemouth attempted 12 shots on target; the most they have ever had in a Premier League match.
- Ryan Fraser has been involved in 14 goals for Bournemouth in the Premier League this season (five goals, nine assists); the most by a Scottish player in the competition in a single season since Shaun Maloney in 2012-13 (also 14).
- Bournemouth’s Callum Wilson has now been involved in 14 goals this season in the Premier League (nine goals, five assists) – the only English players to be involved in more are Harry Kane (18) and Raheem Sterling (15).
- Troy Deeney has now scored seven competitive goals against Bournemouth as a Watford player; his most against an opponent for the Hornets.
- Deeney has now scored four goals from open play this season in the Premier League; two more than in 2017-18.
Bournemouth host Brighton in the third round of the FA Cup on Saturday 5 January (12:30 GMT), while Watford travels to non-league Woking in the competition on Sunday 6 January (14:00 GMT).
Source: BBC News