Crystal Palace 1-0 Watford: Troy Deeney own goal earns hosts third successive win
By Pete Hall
Last Updated: 18/03/17 7:43pm
A Troy Deeney own goal earned Crystal Palace a crucial 1-0 win over Watford to pull them four points clear of the bottom three.
Chances were few and far between at Selhurst Park but an error rather than moment of brilliance proved decisive. Yohan Cabaye curled a 68th-minute free-kick right into the dangerzone, Deeney got his head to the ball to try and clear, but inadvertently diverted it into the bottom corner of his own net.
Watford pressed for an equaliser, but came up short as their wretched run against the Eagles continues. The result sees Sam Allardyce's men climb to 16th ahead of a tough run of fixtures after the international break, while Watford remain in 13th.
The encounter got off to a laboured start but though Wilfried Zaha was causing makeshift Watford full-back Craig Cathcart plenty of problems down the left, his good work was often in vain as he failed to find Christian Benteke in the middle.
Cabaye had the best chance of the opening period, but his side-footed effort was blocked, while on the stroke of half-time, the visitors' Valon Behrami volleyed high and wide from the edge of the area after the ball had fallen kindly to him.
After the break, the game continued to be niggly, with Zaha at the centre of everything. The Palace winger continued to torment Cathcart, and almost broke the deadlock in the 65th minute, but fired over after working space for a shot in the box.
Zaha and Sebastian Prodl then clashed but though Zaha was fortunate to get away with a swinging forearm, Prodl's return foul on the 24-year-old changed the course of the match.
From that free-kick, Deeney stooped, glancing the ball past Heurelho Gomes into the bottom corner. No Palace player was in the vicinity, making the incident all the more bizarre.
Substitute Abdoulaye Doucoure brought a fine save from Palace stopper Wayne Hennessey as the Hornets pressed for a leveller, but they really lacked quality when it mattered most.
Palace held on for the win and with trips to Chelsea and Southampton, as well as a home clash with Arsenal, to come, the three points earned against the Hornets could prove to be the difference between relegation and Premier League survival.
2 - Troy Deeney has scored more own goals for Watford in the Premier League than any other player at the club. Oops.— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) March 18, 2017
Crystal Palace: Hennessey (6), Ward (6), Tomkins (6), Sakho (7), Schlupp (5), Cabaye (5), Milivojevic (6), Zaha (7), Puncheon (5), Townsend (5), Benteke (4).
Subs used: Dann (6), Sako (n/a), Delaney (n/a).
Watford: Gomes (6), Cathcart (6), Kaboul (6), Prodl (7), Britos (7), Janmaat (6), Capoue (6), Behrami (6), Cleverley (5), Niang (5), Deeney (6).
Subs used: Amrabat (5), Success (5), Doucoure (6).
Man of the match: Wilfried Zaha