Javi Gracia hails Watford spirit despite Manchester City loss
Hornets are now five Premier League games without a win
By Nick Howson
Last Updated: 05/12/18 12:00am
Javi Gracia was "proud" of his Watford team as they gave champions Manchester City a late scare at Vicarage Road.
Leroy Sane and Riyad Mahrez struck in either half to seemingly put City on course to extend their lead at the Premier League summit.
However, Abdoulaye Doucoure's scrambled finish made it 2-1 and set up a grandstand finale before captain Troy Deeney almost snatched a point but was denied by Ederson.
And the overall display left Gracia satisfied, despite suffering a third consecutive top-flight defeat for the first time in his Hornets tenure.
"We knew today would be difficult," he told a post-match press conference. "We need to work very well in the game if we were to have chances to get a good result, I think they have dominated the game and created a lot of chances.
"I think we have done good work, and at the end in the last minutes, we had some set pieces to try to get a better result. It wasn't enough because I tell you again, I know they have dominated the game.
"I am very proud of the effort of my players, because I know it is very hard to play against this team. I think my players today deserved recognition."
Goalkeeper Ben Foster kept Watford in the game before Sane opened the scoring, saving from Bernardo Silva and Riyad Mahrez in the first half as City threatened to run away with the contest.
And the display did not go unnoticed, though Gracia felt the performance matched the rest of his spirited outfit.
"It is not a surprise for me," the Spaniard said of the ex-Manchester United stopper. "He usually does it in all of the games, it is not a surprise.
"I think he played at the same level as the rest of the players, because all of them in the first half did very demanding defensive work.
"In the second when we were tired and needed to press a little bit higher, we made an extra effort and I think we have played well."