Watford 2-1 Leicester: Kasper Schmeichel own goal gives hosts first win in seven
By Pete Hall
Last Updated: 26/12/17 7:46pm
Watford picked up a first win in seven games after coming from behind to earn a 2-1 victory over Leicester at Vicarage Road on Boxing Day.
Leicester took the lead through Riyad Mahrez after 37 minutes, before Molla Wague scored on his first Premier League start, against the club where he spent time on loan last season, to equalise on the stroke of half time.
Watford built on the momentum generated from that equaliser after the break, and went ahead in the 65ht minute when Abdoulaye Doucoure's effort was diverted into his own net by Leicester goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel.
Heurelho Gomes had to be at his best to preserve the lead, but Watford held on to end a run of four successive defeats at the expense of a Leicester side who failed to build on their last-gasp draw against Manchester United last time out. Watford stay 10th, while Leicester remain in eighth despite the defeat.
Watford: Gomes (8), Janmaat (6), Kabasele (8), Wague (7), Watson (6), Cleverley (8), Doucoure (7), Zeegelaar (6), Carrillo (8), Pereyra (6), Richarlison (6).
Subs: Prodl (N/A), Okaka (6), Sinclair (6)
Leicester: Schmeichel (5), Chilwell (5), Morgan (6), Maguire (6), Dragovic (4), King (5), Albrighton (6), Ndidi (6), Okazaki (5), Vardy (4), Mahrez (7).
Subs: Slimani (6), Ulloa (6), Gray (6).
Man of the match: Tom Cleverley
After a sluggish start to the game, the visitors upped the tempo, and Jamie Vardy really should have put the Foxes in front, but finished poorly when clean through on goal.
However, the pressure told as Leicester did take the lead through Mahrez. Marc Albrighton worked space for a cross to the back post, where the Algeria international was on hand to head home.
Richarlison should have equalised but could only find the side-netting after rounding Schmeichel, but the hosts did draw level shortly after.
Molla Wague came into the defence to make his first start for Watford, while, as expected, Marvin Zeegelaar and Abdoulaye Doucoure returned from suspension. Sebastian Prodl, Jose Holebas and Andre Gray were the men to make way. There were also three changes for Leicester. Aleksandar Dragovic made his Premier League debut with Danny Simpson injured, while Andy King and Shinji Okazaki were in for Vicente Iborra and Demarai Gray.
The Leicester defence could not deal with Tom Cleverley's corner and while Richarlison was unable to steer the ball home, Wague was on hand to net his first goal in English football.
Richarlison was then in thick of it once more immediately after the equaliser, and could have completed a dramatic turnaround, but his strike thundered out off the post after being picked out by an intricate Cleverley pass.
After the break, Watford continued on the front foot, and took the lead 20 minutes into the second half. Cleverley's free-kick was deep and Doucoure steered the ball back across the goal line. Schmeichel tried to keep it out, but inadvertently nudged the ball over the line, with goal-line technology confirming it had crossed.
Gomes then produced two stunning stops to ensure the hosts held on. First he bravely flung himself at Wes Morgan's strike to block, before diverting Leonardo Ulloa's header around the post.
Leicester have lost two of their last three in the Premier League, the same total they had lost in the previous 13.
Riyad Mahrez has scored in each of his last four Premier League games against Watford, including in all three at Vicarage Road.
Leicester have only won one of their 12 Premier League games played on Boxing Day (D2 L9), losing each of the last four in a row.
Watford scored twice despite landing just one shot on target, with the winning goal coming courtesy of Leicester goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel.
The pundit - Phil Thompson
"Leicester didn't force Gomes into too many saves. You would've thought Leicester with a little bit more confidence and quality would've done better. Vardy's miss was the game changer, but I was really disappointed with Leicester.
"They get a stroke of luck with the winner, as when you look back Doucoure's shot from the angle might have come from a few inches out. Chris Kavanagh the referee was absolutely superb today, and his watch went to signal a goal. I think Schmeichel was a little unlucky, but both goalkeepers were not overworked in this game. Gomes cost Watford last week but he made a late save today to give them victory."
Marco Silva: "Today, we showed very good personality, a big mentality to react like we did after it went 1-0. The last minute of the first half, we score, then we could have scored again through Richarlison. This is our normal mentality. Of course the last few results have put our players a little uncomfortable, but we were good this afternoon."
Claude Puel: "In the second half it was a little more difficult but they didn't create any chances. The result is a little harsh. It was not a bad game from us. We needed to win the second ball. It is a story of free-kicks. They got two goals from free-kicks, and we have to correct this."
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Man of the match - Tom Cleverley
Watford have lacked fluidity of late and the writing looked to be on the wall once more after Leicester took the lead at Vicarage Road. But Cleverley's sheer persistence helped turn the match on its head and earn the home side a much-needed win.
No team-mate provided more key passes than the former Manchester United midfielder, while 10 crosses via the boot of Cleverley as he tried to wrestle the advantage from Leicester, shows just how hard he tried to influence the match.
Saturday sees Watford face another home encounter when they welcome strugglers Swansea to Vicarage Road, while Leicester travel to Liverpool.