Watford 2-1 Burnley: Troy Deeney and M'Baye Niang help Hornets battle past 10-man Burnley
By James Kilpatrick
Last Updated: 04/02/17 10:50pm
Headed goals from Troy Deeney and M'Baye Niang in the first half saw Watford battle past 10-man Burnley in a 2-1 win at Vicarage Road on Saturday afternoon.
A controversial red card for Burnley midfielder Jeff Hendrick in the sixth minute proved an early advantage for Watford, who scored through Deeney and January signing Niang before the break.
Burnley pulled a goal back through an Ashley Barnes penalty in the 78th minute after a Sebastian Prodl handball, but the Clarets could not find an equaliser as Watford held on for the win.
The result means Watford now move up to 10th in the Premier League, ahead of Burnley by one point who slip down into 12th place.
The Hornets made two changes to the team which beat Arsenal 2-1 on Tuesday night, with Mauro Zarate making his Watford debut and Valon Behrami entering the team for Miguel Britos and Daryl Janmaat.
Meanwhile Robbie Brady and Ashley Westwood made their Premier League debuts off the bench, while Steven Defour was replaced by Scott Arfield from the start due to a hamstring injury.
In just the sixth minute, Watford were handed an early advantage as Hendrick was sent off for a high tackle on Jose Holebas. Whether the challenge deserved a red card or not will certainly be a talking point, and Burnley manager Sean Dyche was far from happy with referee Michael Oliver's decision.
And just a few moments after Burnley were reduced to ten men, Watford took the lead. A long ball from the back to Craig Cathcart was passed on to Niang, on his left foot he played a powerful cross towards the far post, allowing Deeney to rise above Matt Lowton to nod in past goalkeeper Tom Heaton.
The goal seemed to take the sting out of any Burnley fightback in the first 45 minutes as they were camped inside their own half, with the exception of a free-kick from Joey Barton which forced Heurelho Gomes into a smart save.
Niang forced Heaton into another great stop 10 minutes after Deeney's opener, and on the counter-attack, debutant Zarate saw his strike go narrowly past the post.
With Burnley struggling to launch quick attacks from deep, it would be Watford who would double their advantage on the stroke of half-time.
A wonderful delivery from Holebas on the left-hand side was curled towards the near post. Niang latched onto it and deftly flicked the ball with his head into the bottom right corner to score his first Premier League goal.
The second half began in a slow and scrappy fashion and it took eight minutes before Burnley had a great opportunity to find an equaliser.
A corner whipped in by Arfield was met by Michael Keane, who towered above Cathcart to win the aerial battle, the ball landed onto the head of Barnes, who then flicked his header towards goal from just two yards out only for Gomes to somehow claw the ball away.
Shortly afterwards, Robbie Brady would come on to make his debut and helped Burnley to create greater attacking movement. However, Watford came close again to scoring.
Cleverley, who was excellent in dictating the tempo from central midfield, played a pinpoint pass out wide to Niang, who curled the ball low into the path of Deeney in the box. Deeney stretched to meet the ball but Heaton pulled off a remarkable reverse save and parried the ball away.
Just seconds after a Barnes attempt from close range was cleared off the line, Burnley won a penalty after Barton's fierce shot from outside the box was handballed by Prodl.
Barnes stepped up and smashed his strike into the bottom left-hand corner off the post, creating a nervy end to the match.
With Watford's passing play getting increasingly sloppy and Dyche making positive attacking substitutions with Sam Vokes and Westwood also coming on, Burnley continued to put long balls into the box.
In the dying minutes of the match, a poor giveaway from Cathcart allowed the ball to run into the path of Barnes, forcing Gomes into making a strong, reflex save from close range.
But Watford were able to hold on to the win as Burnley's away day woes continue.
Watford: Gomes (7), Cathcart (6), Kaboul (7), Prodl (7), Holebas (6), Capoue (6), Behrami (6), Cleverley, (9), Zarate (7), Niang (8), Deeney (8)
Subs: Doucoure (7), Janmaat (7), Success (7)
Burnley: Heaton (8), Lowton (5), Keane (6), Mee (6), Ward (5), Arfield (6), Hendrick (3), Barton (7), Boyd (6), Barnes (8), Gray (5)
Subs: Brady (7), Vokes (6), Westwood (6)
Man of the Match: Tom Cleverley