By Richard Morgan
Football journalist - @Richiereds1976
Fulham 1-1 Watford: Aleksandar Mitrovic rescues point for hosts
Report and highlights as Fulham and Watford share spoils at Craven Cottage
Last Updated: 22/09/18 6:13pm
Aleksandar Mitrovic’s late strike rescued a point for Fulham as they drew 1-1 with Watford at Craven Cottage.
Andre Gray gave Watford the lead after just one minute and 27 seconds - the club's second-fastest goal in Premier League history - with his third league goal of the season.
However, Mitrovic equalised for the home team with just 12 minutes to go, the forward's 17th goal since joining the club - initially on loan from Newcastle United - in January, more than any other player in England's top four leagues.
Fulham: Bettinelli (6), Sessegnon (6), Chambers (5), Fosu-Mensah (5), Mawson (4), McDonald (5), Johansen (5), Schurrle (7), Seri (6), Mitrovic (8), Vietto (6)
Subs: Odoi (6), Anguissa (6), Ayite (6)
Watford: Foster (7), Janmaat (6), Cathcart (6), Holebas (6), Kabasele (7), Doucoure (7), Capoue (7), Hughes (7), Pereyra (6), Deeney (7), Gray (7)
Subs: Femenia (6), Sema (6), Success (6)
Man of the match: Aleksandar Mitrovic
As a result, Watford remain in the top four as their impressive start to the new campaign continues, while Fulham stay 15th in the table
Fans were still streaming into a rain-soaked Craven Cottage when the Hornets opened the scoring with the first attack of the game, although it is a goal the Fulham defence will not want to see again.
Firstly, captain Kevin McDonald failed to deal with a simple throw-in, before Gray bullied Jean Michael Seri out of the way, allowing Will Hughes to slip the striker through on goal.
And Gray made no mistake with a composed finish for his fourth goal in his last three matches against Fulham.
The home side were lucky to go in at the break only one goal down after Christian Kabasele and Gray spurned presentable openings, while it could have been even worse had referee Martin Atkinson sent off Timothy Fosu-Mensah for a studs-up tackle on Troy Deeney just past the half-hour mark.
So it was no real surprise when Fulham boss Slavisa Jokanovic replaced Alfie Mawson and McDonald with Denis Odoi and Floyd Ayite at half-time, especially given the former's shaky first-half display.
The double change did manage to slow down Watford's attacking momentum after the interval, but the hosts initially still struggled to create many clear-cut chances.
One of those fell to the man Fulham would have wanted, in-form forward Mitrovic, only for the Serb to head Andre Schurrle's inviting right-wing cross over the bar five minutes into the second period.
Fulham made two changes from their defeat at Man City, with Timothy Fosu-Mensah and Callum Chambers coming in for Denis Odoi and Cyrus Christie at the back, with that duo dropping to the bench.
Watford, meanwhile, became the first Premier League team in a decade to name an unchanged side for the first six games of a season.
But with the clock ticking away, Fulham did get back on level terms and it was that man Mitrovic who was on hand to instinctively flick home Luciano Vietto's ball in from the left edge of the area.
And Mitrovic came within inches of winning the match in the last minute, only for Watford goalkeeper Ben Foster to tip his close-range header onto the bar as Jokanovic was denied a win against his former club.
What would VAR have changed?
The VAR would surely have increased Fosu-Mensah’s yellow to a red after his dangerous first-half tackle on Deeney, but it is debatable if Watford's appeals for a penalty would have been given after Hughes went over under Mawson's challenge just past the half-hour mark.
- This was Fulham's 500th match in the Premier League; the 15th team to reach the milestone in the competition
- Fulham have lost just one of their last 19 home league games, including play-offs (W14 D4)
- Watford are without a win on their last nine Premier League visits to London, with their draw against Fulham coming after eight consecutive defeats
- Gray's strike for Watford, timed at one minute, 27 seconds was the quickest goal in the Premier League since March 10 2018 (Kenedy for Newcastle v Southampton, 1:03)
Notes for Southgate
Young full-back Ryan Sessegnon had a quiet game for the hosts, failing to provide an attacking outlet with few raids down the left. However, Will Hughes will have given the England boss another gentle reminder about his talents in the middle of the park with an assured and composed display, while Ben Foster would surely be part of the set-up had he not retired.
Man of the Match - Aleksandar Mitrovic
The powerful forward was the main reason why his side managed to rescue a point in this game after a buccaneering second-half display at the Cottage.
The Serbia international had already proved to be a handful for the Watford back line before half-time, but they were unable to deal with him after the interval.
The frontman almost headed the hosts level right at the start of the second period and having then equalised, he twice came close to winning the match, only to be denied by two fine Foster saves late on.
Pundit - Jamie Redknapp
"One individual brought his team back into the game, Aleksandar Mitrovic. One man that wanted to wrestle the domination back and batter the Watford centre halves.
"When the ball went up to him, he made it stick and brought others into the game. I thought he was the difference - not the tactical changes or the substitutions."
Manager reaction: Slavisa Jokanovic
"We must be focused, concentrate - this is the Premier League, the most competitive league in the world," he said.
"These mistakes and sloppy starts can make it complicated to fix.
"We must be available to work. We must be available to step up. I need my players to be brave and confident.
"We must be satisfied with one point, but I'm not completely satisfied with our 90 minutes. The satisfaction comes from the second-half. There's space for improvement, as the gap is huge."
Manager reaction: Javi Gracia
"After we scored, we had chances to kill the game but we didn't do it. We made a mistake and conceded a goal. After that we are a little bit disappointed."
Fulham travel to Millwall in the Carabao Cup third round on Tuesday evening and then play Everton at Goodison Park on Saturday September 29, with the game getting underway at 3pm.
Meanwhile, Watford take on Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley Stadium in the Carabao Cup third round on Wednesday night, before facing another north London side in Arsenal at the Emirates in the league next Saturday afternoon.