Watford's first-half display delights manager Javi Gracia despite goalless draw with Crystal Palace
By Michael Hincks
Last Updated: 21/04/18 7:11pm
Javi Gracia said Watford's first-half display in the 0-0 draw against Crystal Palace was one of their best performances this season.
Watford shot out the blocks at Vicarage Road, with Stefano Okaka heading against the cross bar after just four minutes.
Crystal Palace withstood the pressure, and hit the woodwork twice themselves after the break, while Wilfried Zaha saw two penalty claims turned down.
In what was ultimately a tale of two halves, Gracia appeared pleased with the draw, which moves Watford nine points clear of the relegation zone.
"It was a good first half from us - one of the best this season. We created many chances but we didn't take them," Gracia told Sky Sports.
"In the second half, they made more control and created chances to score. We tried until the end but could not do it.
"It did not surprise us. They changed a little with [the Christian] Benteke [substitution], but the first half was very demanding as we pressed very aggressively.
"We didn't keep the same level and in the second half, they are a good team, and they had their moments.
"We tried to win today until the end. We'll try to win the next game against Tottenham, and so on. We want to be competitive and play at our best level."
The match's focal point came in the second half when Zaha went down in the box following a challenge from Adrian Mariappa.
Zaha had seen a first-half appeal rejected, and referee Chris Kavanagh opted to book the Palace forward for simulation, despite Mariappa appearing to touch the 25-year-old.
Gracia admitted he did not see the incident, though did reference the fact that Zaha has won four penalties for Palace this season when asked about the decision.
"I didn't see it," Gracia added. "There were many players around him, but the Zaha decision, I think, four penalties for Palace? I have doubt - I don't know."