Watford 1-1 Crystal Palace: Troy Deeney scores 100th goal to deny Sam Allardyce a winning start
By Oliver Yew
Last Updated: 26/12/16 6:27pm
Troy Deeney scored his 100th goal for Watford to earn his side a 1-1 draw and deny Sam Allardyce a winning start as Crystal Palace manager.
Yohan Cabaye gave Allardyce, who was appointed on Friday following the sacking of Alan Pardew, the perfect start, firing home in the 26th minute to give the visitors a deserved lead.
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It could have got even better for Palace in the 36th minute but Christian Benteke, who was brought down in the penalty area by Heurelho Gomes, saw his penalty saved by the Brazilian goalkeeper.
Buoyed by the penalty miss, Watford, who were forced into two substitutions in the opening 15 minutes, responded in good fashion and they were awarded a penalty of their own with 20 minutes remaining when Sebastian Prodl was bundled to the floor by Damien Delaney.
Deeney made no mistake from the spot to end a run of 10 games without a goal and in the process become only the fifth player to score 100 goals for Watford.
The point moves Watford into the top 10 for now, while Crystal Palace stay 17th, two points clear of the relegation places.
Allardyce made two changes in naming his first Palace side with Mathieu Flamini and Andros Townsend coming in to the side in place of Joe Ledley and James McArthur.
Walter Mazzarri also made two changes with Adlene Guedioura and Daryll Janmaat replacing Deeney and Juan Camilo Zuniga, but any plans the Italian boss made before kick-off went out the window very early on.
In the second minute Wilfried Zaha burst down the left, forcing Janmaat into a sliding tackle. The Dutchman overstretched in making the tackle, tweaking a muscle and he was eventually replaced by Zuniga.
Things immediately went from bad to worse for the hosts as Valon Behrami went down clutching his left hamstring and he was replaced by Deeney, meaning Watford became the fourth team in Premier League history to substitute two starting players in the opening 15 minutes.
Palace, who started extremely brightly, took full advantage in the 26th minute as Townsend drove ate heart of the Watford defence, before slipping the ball through to Cabaye, who beat the offside trap and smashed a first-time shot past Gomes and into the far corner.
The visitors had the opportunity to double their advantage 10 minutes later when Benteke latched onto Prodl's back pass ahead of Gomes, who brought the Belgium international down in the penalty area.
Referee Mark Clattenburg pointed to the spot but Benteke's tame effort was easily saved by Gomes, diving low down to his left.
The miss lifted Watford and their fans and they eventually levelled in the 70th minute when Delaney needlessly brought down Prodl to leave referee with little choice but to award the game's second penalty.
Substitute Deeney, who had unexpectedly had been left out of the starting line-up, made absolutely no mistake, powerfully striking the ball straight down the middle to bring the scores level.
In the 83rd minute, Odion Ighalo headed Guedioura's cross goalwards but Hennessey was well-positioned to make an easy save.
Palace though they should have had a penalty late on when Zaha went down under a challenge from Miguel Britos but Clattenburg gave a free-kick to the hosts and booked the Crystal Palace forward for a dive.
An increasingly scrappy end to the game ensured and neither team could find a winning goal, leaving Palace with a record of one win in last 11, and Watford with two in their last eight.
Watford: Gomes (8), Kaboul (6), Prodl (7), Britos (6), Holebas (7), Capoue (6), Behrami (5), Guedioura (7), Amrabat (8), Ighalo (7), Janmaat (5).
Subs used: Deeney (7), Zuniga (6).
Crystal Palace: Hennessey (7), Ward (6), Dann (7), Delaney (6), Kelly (6), Flamini (7), Cabaye (8), Townsend (7), Puncheon (7), Zaha (8), Benteke (6).
Subs used: Mutch (6), Campbell (6).
Man of the Match: Wilfried Zaha