Crystal Palace 1-2 Watford: Troy Deeney double downs Eagles
By Jefferson Lake
Last Updated: 13/02/16 6:10pm
Troy Deeney's eighth and ninth goals of the season helped Watford consign Crystal Palace to a fifth Premier League defeat in their last six games.
The Hornets skipper scored a controversially-awarded penalty after 16 minutes and then settled the contest with a clinical strike seven minutes from time.
Emmanuel Adebayor had levelled the game on the stroke of half-time with his first goal in Palace colours, expertly heading home Connor Wickham's cross.
But Deeney was to leave his mark on the match as the hosts were consigned to another defeat and one made even more painful by the dismissal of Pape Souare for a dreadful challenge on Valon Behrami in stoppage time.
Referee Robert Madley made the bold decision to award Watford a penalty for Mile Jedinak's manhandling of Deeney at a corner; the call will be cited as a controversial one because it is rare for fouls to be awarded in such situations but it was unquestionably a foul.
Palace, with their confidence perhaps at a low ebb following their recent struggles, did not provide much of a response to the setback and in fact it was Watford who were the dominant attacking force for the rest of the first half.
They should have doubled their lead when Jedinak sloppily gave the ball away in midfield, it was fed in to Odion Ighalo down the inside-left channel, and he cut outside his marker before striking a shot which goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey blocked with a foot at his near post.
The ball was then played back into the box, where Nordin Amrabat held off his marker and got a shot away which was blocked on the line, before proceeding to give away a foul as he competed for the second ball.
Ighalo spurned another chance to put his side two up when he lazily threw a leg at a superb Deeney header into him three minutes before half-time and moments later Adebayor equalised.
Wickham's long throw was headed only partially clear by Ben Watson, with Jedinak seizing on the loose ball to return it to Wickham at full stretch; from there, he picked out his strike partner with a fine cross which was expertly headed into the far corner by Adebayor.
The goal revitalised Palace for the second half and for long periods of it they were the better side.
Jordon Mutch drew a good save from Heurelho Gomes and Adebayor had an even better chance well saved from 10 yards out.
He later looped a header goalwards which Gomes saved well despite being fouled by Fraizer Campbell but Watford were not a spent force and Hennessey made a good stop of his own from a low Nathan Ake shot.
That warning, however, went unheeded, and Deeney showed excellent composure to steady himself and fire home after Ben Watson's fine first-time cross had skimmed into his path off the head of Damien Delaney.
On the stroke of 90 minutes, Yohan Cabaye hit a dipping shot against the foot of the post as the hosts attempted to salvage something from the game.
But no further goalscoring chances were fashioned and the despair was deepened when Souare was sent off by referee Robert Madley for a two-footed challenge on Behrami.
Soccer Saturday verdict - Paul Merson
Troy Deeney doesn't surprise me, he is a very good footballer. He was the best player on the pitch, class wise. Adebayor looked quite sharp, and scored a great header. With two up front, Watford are always a threat. Watford went on a bit of a dodgy run, but then all of a sudden started picking up points again. For me they safe, and can focus on the FA Cup. Everywhere they go, they have a go. Bolasie is nearly fit, and Palace need him. They are not getting any luck at all at the moment either. I'd be shocked if they went down.
Crystal Palace: Hennessey (6), Ward (6), Dann (6), Delaney (6), Souare (4), Zaha (6), Cabaye (5), Jedinak (5), Mutch (5), Wickham (5), Adebayor (6).
Used subs: Lee (6), Campbell (5).
Watford: Gomes (7), Nyom (5), Prodl (6), Cathcart (6), Ake (6), Capoue (6), Watson (7), Behrami (7), Amrabat (6), Ighalo (5), Deeney (8).
Used subs: Abdi (6), Mario Suarez (6).
Man of the match: Troy Deeney.