Watford 2-2 Bournemouth: Jermain Defoe's late equaliser rescues Cherries
By Ron Walker
Last Updated: 06/04/18 4:09pm
Jermain Defoe's 92nd-minute equaliser earned Bournemouth another point from a losing position in an entertaining 2-2 draw at Watford.
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The former England forward broke a seven-game hoodoo to score his first goal against the Hornets when a long free-kick was flicked on, giving him a simple finish to earn Bournemouth's 17th point from a losing position this season.
Watford were hard done by but had only themselves to blame, having earlier blown Kiko Femenia's 13th-minute opener when Jose Holebas needlessly handballed in the box, allowing Josh King to equalise from the spot (43).
They reclaimed the lead thanks to Roberto Pereyra's deflected effort four minutes into the second half, but Defoe's goal denied them the chance to move within a point of ninth-placed Everton, and instead they remain level on points with the Cherries, who are 10th.
Watford: Karnezis (6), Janmaat (6), Prodl (7), Mariappa (7), Holebas (5), Doucoure (6), Capoue (6), Femenia (6), Hughes (7), Pereyra (7), Deeney (6).
Subs: Cathcart (6), Richarlison (7), Okaka (5).
Bournemouth: Begovic (6), Fraser (6), S Cook (6), Ake (7), Daniels (6), Ibe (6), Gosling (6), L Cook (7), Stanislas (7), King (6), Wilson (5).
Subs: Pugh (7), Defoe (7).
Man of the match: Will Hughes.
Nathan Ake struck the bar from Junior Stanislas' free-kick at the start of an end-to-end encounter, which the visitors should have led once Josh King robbed Adrian Mariappa before being denied by an outstanding sliding challenge from Sebastian Prodl.
Having wasted those two chances, and another which Karnezis stopped from Stanislas at full-stretch, Watford took the lead with their first shot on goal when Holebas' corner reached Femenia, who half-volleyed beyond a stranded Asmir Begovic.
The goal gave Watford the belief they had lacked and Femenia came close to a second, but with a half-time lead looking assured Holebas handled to palm Stanislas' cross away from Jordon Ibe, and was perhaps lucky to stay on the pitch.
Watford dropped Britos and Richarlison following their 5-0 drubbing at Liverpool last time out, allowing Janmaat and Hughes to return.
Bournemouth's changes were both in defence, with Smith ruled out by injury and replaced at right-back by Fraser, more regularly a midfielder. Smith dropped to the bench for Daniels.
King sent Karnezis the wrong way to level, but four minutes after the restart Watford restored their advantage when Hughes laid the ball off for Pereyra, whose curled shot took a slight deflection, but left Begovic unmoved.
Bournemouth huffed and puffed without testing Karnezis, until an innocuous foul from substitute Stefano Okaka inside the Cherries half allowed them a chance to pump the ball long.
Steve Cook launched it into the box where Defoe, who had not scored since December, showed his predatory instincts to slot in an equaliser with barely two minutes of the game left.
Jermain Defoe has now scored 15 Premier League goals in the 90th minute or later - at least four more than any other player in the competition's history.
Bournemouth have now gained 17 points from losing positions this season - more than any other side.
Kiko Femenia's opener was his first league goal since netting for Alaves against Athletic Club "B" in the Spanish Segunda Division on May 26th 2016, 674 days ago.
Femenia was the 16th different player to score for Watford in the Premier League this season - only Arsenal have had more (17, excluding own goals).
Josh King has now scored three goals in his last seven league games - he had only managed to find the net twice in his first 20 such games this season.
Will Hughes has had a hand in five goals (two goals, three assists) in nine Premier League games for Watford this season - as many as he managed in 38 Championship games for Derby County last season.
Man of the match - Will Hughes
Had a big hand in much of Watford's good attacking play, making the second goal for Pereyra with a lovely lay-off.
It summed up his knack of finding himself in the heart of the action, registering four key passes - more than anyone else on the pitch - and also putting in a real shift defensively, making more tackles than any of his team-mates (4).
England World Cup watch
Will Hughes impressed on his return to the starting line-up, but after his injury problems since November he's probably left his chance too late to even be an outside shot for Russia.
Former call-up regular Jermain Defoe grabbed a goal, but it was his first since December and only a fourth of the season.
Javi Gracia: "It's disappointing with the result, because we have lost two points in injury time, but I'm proud of my players.
"If we had taken more of the chances we had, it could have given us more of a cushion - and at the end we lost two points.
"I didn't see the handball. It was a long way from my position on the pitch. Today we have one point more, we wanted three and I think we deserved it, but there are six games left and we will try to get all the points we can."
Eddie Howe: "It was an action-packed game. We left it very late. I thought we did alright first half, it was a good open game, we came strong at the end.
"It's something we've developed as our calling-card, late in the season. We don't know when we're beaten, but it's not good to keep going behind. We started well, we didn't take our early chances and we deservedly got a leveller.
"But then we deserved to be behind after half-time and didn't start well, but we showed our character when Jermain popped up."
Bournemouth host Crystal Palace at the Vitality Stadium next Saturday, while Watford are also at home, to seventh-placed Burnley. Both games kick-off at 3pm.