Carlo Ancelotti remaining calm after last-gasp win over Watford: 'If I run, I am dead!'
Everton came from two goals down to beat Watford courtesy of Theo Walcott's 90th-minute winner
By Ben Grounds at Vicarage Road
Last Updated: 02/02/20 7:44am
Everton manager Carlo Ancelotti joked he would be "dead" if he had joined in the jubilant celebrations of his players following his side's dramatic 3-2 comeback win over Watford.
Theo Walcott hit a last-minute winner as the 10-man Toffees came from two goals down to secure a fine win which moves them back into the top half of the table.
Yerry Mina had scored twice in first-half stoppage time to haul the visitors level and - despite losing Fabian Delph to a red card - Walcott delivered the killer blow as the travelling fans celebrated a remarkable victory.
Ancelotti had witnessed a two-goal surrender in the dying minutes of Everton's previous Premier League game at home to Newcastle, but the Italian resisted the temptation to join his substitutes and coaching staff in sprinting down the touchline to celebrate Walcott's late intervention at Vicarage Road.
This was the first time since December 2017 that Everton won a Premier League game after conceding the first goal - a run of 35 matches - but when asked if he thought about making his way down the touchline, the 60-year-old smiled and swiftly remarked: "No. I was not able to run. If I run, I am dead. I will stay calm."
There was plenty for the travelling hordes to smile about. Many of them had been caught up in traffic down the M1 on their way to Vicarage Road, and things got worse inside the first 42 minutes as goals from Adam Masina and Roberto Pereyra set the Hornets on their way to a fourth straight Premier League home win over the Toffees.
But that all changed in first-half stoppage time following Mina's quickfire double, and Ancelotti was delighted with the character his players showed after lacking "aggression" throughout the opening period.
"In the first half, we were 2-0 down and lost a lot of duels and second balls. In the second half we were in control of the game and I felt we would've won if it was 11 against 11. We have to sometimes manage the decisions of the referees which I felt in this situation was wrong.
"It was an important result moreover because of what happened in the game. In the second half we were better but with 10 men, it was more difficult and we had to defend and seek opportunities on the counter-attack. In that situation, all three players did really well.
"It was a difficult game because Watford are a strong team, but this can help us have more confidence for the future. This is a really competitive league, so we don't have to think too much beyond the next game against Crystal Palace. We planned to play in a certain style today but Watford were very aggressive in the first half.
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"If you're not ready to compete, then you can lose the game 2-0. But we were more in the game in that aspect after that and then we showed our technical and tactical quality."
Everton are now nine points clear of the relegation zone in ninth place. Only eight points separate themselves and Chelsea in fourth, but Ancelotti is unsurprisingly not getting too carried away with talk of Europe back on the agenda.
"Realistically, no one knows [where Everton could finish] but we have to try for the top and aim to reach the Europa League next year. If we're able to keep concentrated and fight, then I think we have the possibility of making it."
Set-piece defending frustrates Pearson
The result means Watford remain in a precarious position following a third defeat in all competitions.
The Hornets failed to win a Premier League game at Vicarage Road after being two goals ahead for the first time, previously winning 23 and drawing twice.
"It's exceptionally disappointing," Watford boss Nigel Pearson said afterwards. "To have played very positive for the first 44 minutes, it's extremely frustrating.
"To come in at half-time 2-2 was very frustrating. We've been good defending set plays generally speaking, but today we weren't. The second is a free header and the first one is a bit of a melee where we've not been able to deal with the first contact. We've paid the price for a lack of concentration.
"We allowed them to get back into the game too easily and lost it at the end again. We had the chance to manage the ball better and we paid the price. The important thing is to look after our own performances and results.
"Today, that means we have to reflect honestly on the fact we've not taken care of our own performance. We tried to win it and we ended up losing it.
"We worked hard enough to get in front but we didn't work hard enough to preserve the lead. It's a disappointment and clearly the players are down at the moment as I expect them to be. We get back to work tomorrow as this game is gone."
Watford now embark on their winter break, returning to Premier League action away to Brighton on February 8 at the Amex Stadium; Kick-off at 5.30pm. Everton host Crystal Palace next Saturday at 12.30pm before they have their two-week pause.