WATFORD 2, NEWCASTLE 1
By Omar Moore
July 14, 2020
Troy Deeney’s two clutch penalty kicks overcame Newcastle at Vicarage Road on Saturday, bringing Watford within touching distance of safety in the Premier League. An important Watford win gave the Hornets much-needed breathing room, a six-point cushion above third-bottom Bournemouth (who would themselves come from behind at home to beat Leicester and reduce the deficit to three points on Sunday.) Watford had enjoyed a seven-point lead over Aston Villa (until they defeated Crystal Palace 2-0 on Sunday.)
A lively start by the Magpies at The Vic on Saturday lunchtime defined a first half in which Watford lacked enthusiasm, desire, intensity and urgency given the size of their mission and imperative. Newcastle dominated, and after last Tuesday’s Hornets match-winner Danny Welbeck’s 16th minute shot didn’t fully clear the goal line, the away side capitalized on poor Watford defending. Newcastle striker Dwight Gayle slid home a cross flicked on at the back post to give the visitors a deserved lead in the 23rd minute. That Newcastle goal sparked Watford, who went close on two occasions but couldn’t generate anything worthy of an equalizer.
That changed in the second half.
Seven minutes into the restart a revamped Hornets side stormed back to equalize. Watford looked an invigorated outfit after the certain rollicking their head coach Nigel Pearson must have given them at half time. Hornets right-back Kiko Femenia charged into the penalty area in front of the Rookery End and Newcastle’s Matt Ritchie bumped the side of Femenia’s knee, sending him tumbling to the ground. Up stepped Deeney in the 52nd minute to smash home the resulting penalty, straight down the middle into the back of the net against the despairing dive of Magpies goalkeeper Martin Dubravka.
Watford went on and dominated the second half, limiting a suddenly inexplicably tepid Newcastle to three opportunities, one an immediate response from Magpies goalscorer Gayle, a disallowed goal for offside that Craig Dawson had sliced into his own net; the third a shot over Ben Foster’s crossbar late on. After quick successive missed chances by Deeney and Welbeck the Hornets would find the back of the net again courtesy of captain Deeney half an hour after his first penalty. Ismaila Sarr drove forward along the byline on the right side in front of the Rookery into the penalty box where he was held, clawed back and felled by Newcastle defender Javier Manquillo. Deeney later said in an interview that he actually told Dubravka he would put the ball exactly down the middle as he did for his first penalty.
Surely enough, right on cue Deeney delivered — again.
WATFORD (out of 10): Foster 8, Masina 7, Femenia 7, Dawson 8, Kabasele 7, Doucoure 7, Capoue 8, Hughes 9, Sarr 7, Welbeck 7, Deeney 8.
Substitutes: Cleverley 7, Gray 6.
Newcastle (out of 10): Dubravka 7, Manquillo 6, Lascelles 7, Fernandez 6, Rose 6, Schar 7, Shelvey 7, Saint-Maximin 8, Almiron 7, Ritchie 6, Gayle 8.
Substitutions: Joelinton 6, Bentley 6, Krafth 6, Lazaro 6.
Referee (out of 10): Craig Pawson 8.
Photo: Watford striker and captain Troy Deeney celebrates as teammates Danny Welbeck and Abdoulaye Doucoure chase him after the second of his two penalties against Newcastle secured a vital three points at Vicarage Road. (Credit: Premier League)