Watford battle on past QPR to the FA Cup quarter-finals

FA Cup Fifth Round
QPR 0, WATFORD 1
By Omar Moore
Watford Watch
February 15, 2019

Watford strained and struggled to impact this FA Cup fifth round tie but they held off a vigorous QPR at Loftus Road thanks to great defending, goalkeeping and Etienne Capoue’s injury time first-half goal.

Queens Park Rangers dominated the first half in front of their home fans in west London and Hornets goalkeeper and birthday boy Heurelho Gomes had to pull off three fine saves in the half to keep QPR off the scoresheet. Defensively Watford were stellar — both Christian Kabasele and Miguel Britos, the latter of whom shook off a head collision earlier — were outstanding, dealing with everything QPR threw at them.

Watford were lethargic going forward in what looked like a Valentine’s Day hangover, though they enjoyed 66 percent of the first-half possession. Their rare forays into the QPR final third usually ended with miscues, twice between Andre Gray and Will Hughes. QPR were often troublesome with their big man Matt Smith posing a threat.

But in first half injury time Watford went ahead against the run of play. With just their second corner of the half Ken Sema’s one-two corner kick with Jose Cholevas, saw the latter’s in-swinging kick meet the feet of Tom Cleverley, who miskicked it, only for the ball to reach a waiting Etienne Capoue, who struck the ball low and across another birthday goalkeeper, QPR’s Joe Lumley, into the bottom left corner of the net.

Undeterred, QPR kept at it in the second half with a couple of chances that went wide. Watford counterattacked swiftly but couldn’t make any hay out of the break they had early in the second half. Kabasele nearly gifted QPR a lifeline back into the proceedings in the 62nd minute with a poor clearance that was a short pass straight to QPR target man Nahki Wells, only to see Wells fire the ball just to the right of Gomes’s goalpost.

The home side continued to press Watford but as the second half wore on the Hornets began to control the tempo of the match. Substitute Abdoulaye Doucoure stabilized the midfield and was a presence, helping to push Watford into attacking positions.

QPR had one last chance which they will rue. A ball across the Watford box rolled invitingly for Rangers defender Toni Leistner whom with the gaping net waiting to bulge sliced agonizingly wide and to the left in the 86th minute. It was an astonishing miss that had QPR fans aghast in the stands.

On a forgettable night Watford’s grit stood up, and stood tall. Now the Hornets are just 90 minutes away from the semi-finals.

QPR (out of 10): Lumley 6, Furlong 6, Bidwell 7, Hall 7, Freeman 7, Cousins 6, Luongo 6, Wszolek 6, Smith 7, Wells 7, Leistner 6.

Substitutes: Hemed 6, Eze 6, Osayi-Samuel 6.

WATFORD (out of 10): Gomes 9, Kabasele 7, Britos 9, Cholevas 6, Janmaat 6, Sema 5, Capoue 7, Cleverley 6, Hughes 6, Deeney 7, Gray 6.

Substitutes: Doucoure 7, Mariappa 6, Quina 6.  

Referee (out of 10): Michael Oliver 9.

Attendance: 17,212

(Photo: Etienne Capoue’s shot rolls past the outstretched Joe Lumley and into the bottom left corner of the net in first-half injury time for the only goal of the match.)

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