Crystal Palace 2-1 Watford: Late show stuns Hornets as Palace move out of bottom three
Last Updated: 13/12/17 8:42am
Crystal Palace moved off the bottom and out of the Premier League relegation zone with a sensational late rally to see off 10-man Watford 2-1 at Selhurst Park.
Daryl Janmaat's third-minute goal for the Hornets looked as though it would be decisive, but Tom Cleverley's sending off three minutes from time switched the momentum and Palace substitutes Bakary Sako (89) and James McArthur (90+1) struck to complete the turnaround.
Both goals were provided by the dogged Wilfried Zaha, who dazzled once again in front of his home fans in a game where Palace failed to register a shot on target for the first 88 minutes.
The victory means Roy Hodgson's side have taken 12 points from their last six home games.
Crystal Palace: Speroni (7), Fosu-Mensah (5), Schlupp (6), Milivojevic (6), Tomkins (6), Dann (6), Cabaye (6), Loftus-Cheek (6), Townsend (6), Zaha (9), Benteke (5)
Subs: McArthur (7), Sako (7), Van Aanholt (6)
Watford: Gomes (6), Janmaat (7), Holebas (6), Kabasele (6), Mariappa (7), Prodl (6), Doucoure (7), Carrillo (7), Cleverley (5), Deeney (6), Richarlison (8)
Subs: Pereyra (6), Gray (6),
Man of the Match: Wilfried Zaha
With the home crowd a bit edgy after the Eagles squandered victory against Bournemouth at the weekend, Watford sensed an opportunity to press high and took the lead inside four minutes.
The dangerous Richarlison teased his marker down the left before whipping a lovely ball to the back post where Janmaat was waiting to bullet a header home.
Scott Dann guided a header just wide from a Yohan Cabaye corner on 29 minutes but it was Watford, especially through Richarlison, that carried the greater threat. Troy Deeney should have doubled the lead on 31 minutes but shanked the Brazilian's perfect cross wide from just three yards out with the goal gaping.
Richarlison found space at the back post on 63 minutes but Julian Speroni - on his 400th appearance for Palace - blocked away his near post effort.
Palace were struggling for rhythm and a fightback looked unlikely, although Zaha curled a 20-yard effort inches over with seven minutes to go.
Roy Hodgson resisted the urge to drop the out of form Christian Benteke despite his late penalty miss. The only change was Mamadou Sakho because of a calf injury - Scott Dann replaced him. Marvin Zeegelaar missed the game through suspension for Watford - Jose Holebas replaced him while Roberto Pereyra was dropped for Sebastian Prodl.
Cleverley, who had already been booked for stopping a Palace counter, then gifted his opponents a boost when hauling down Sako inside his own half to pick up a second yellow.
Four minutes later, Watford were - unbelievably - behind as Zaha sparked the fightback.
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His shot on 89 minutes was parried by Hornets 'keeper Heurelho Gomes, who could only block Sako's rebound back off the player and into the net.
Zaha was now a man possessed and, with time ticking down, he picked up the ball down the left, took on two defenders before squaring the ball perfectly for McArthur to roll home from close range.
It was a winning goal that was only worth three points, but it felt more than that.
Man of the match: Wilfried Zaha
For 80 minutes the Palace winger cut a frustrated figure on the left wing as he seemed to be trying too hard against a backdrop of boos from the travelling faithful. However, he kept his head when it mattered to completely turn the game in Palace's favour - his assist for the second was world-class, selling Janmaat four step-overs before finding McArthur with a perfect cross. What a hero.
Roy Hodgson: "It wasn't one of our better performances in terms of the quality of our play, but there have been so many games where it's been good and not brought us the three points, so like most football managers I'd rather have the three points irrespective of the performance."
Marco Silva: "The red card gave them belief but it was clear though they should be playing with 10 players for the foul on Pereyra. I think we didn't deserve it - it was something unbelievable. It can happen with our team. We need to learn fast to play at this level."
- 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).
- 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).
Crystal Palace are back in action on Saturday lunchtime in front of the Sky Sports cameras as they travel to Leicester City, while Watford host Huddersfield at Vicarage Road at 3pm on Saturday.