By James Kilpatrick
Watford 1-1 Newcastle: Abdoulaye Doucoure denies Newcastle win
Report as Newcastle sit four points above the relegation zone
Last Updated: 29/12/18 6:33pm
Watford moved up to ninth in the Premier league table as substitute Abdoulaye Doucoure scored a late equaliser in their 1-1 draw against Newcastle.
Salomon Rondon gave the visitors a surprise lead in the first half (29) shortly after Gerard Deulofeu squandered a great opportunity to put the hosts in front.
But Watford grabbed a deserved equaliser through substitute Doucoure (82), who converted his powerful header from close range.
The result means Watford are four points behind sixth-placed Manchester United on 28 points, while Newcastle are 15th.
Watford: Foster (7), Janmaat (6), Mariappa (5), Cathcart (6), Masina (6), Capoue (5), Quina (6), Pereyra (6), Hughes (6), Success (7), Deulofeu (6)
Subs: Deeney (7), Doucoure (7), Holebas (6)
Newcastle: Dubravka (7), Yedlin (4), Fernandez (5), Lascelles (6), Dummett (6), Ritchie (7), Diame (6), Hayden (6), Atsu (6), Perez (5), Rondon (7)
Subs: Schar (5), Shelvey (6)
Man of the match: Abdoulaye Doucoure
Watford started the game stronger and Deulofeu was presented with a glorious chance to give them the lead in the 16th minute. Roberto Pereyra's fine floated ball put the former Barcelona forward into a one-on-one position, but Martin Dubravka did well to block his shot aimed for the bottom corner.
Although Javi Gracia's side looked the more likely team to take the lead, it was the visitors who broke the deadlock thanks to Rondon. The Venezuela international sneaked into a gap between Craig Cathcart and Adam Masina at the far post and converted Matt Ritchie's early cross by powering his header past Ben Foster for his fifth Premier League goal of the season.
The goal seemed to rattle the Watford defence as Rondon had the ball in the net 10 minutes later, but it was chalked off for offside. Watford did create another good chance through Isaac Success shortly before half-time, but his venomous strike was batted away by Dubravka.
Javi Gracia made six changes. Daryl Janmaat, Adrian Mariappa, Adam Masina, Domingos Quina, Will Hughes and Isaac Success entered the starting XI.
For Newcastle, Christian Atsu, Ayoze Perez and Salomon Rondon came in for Kenedy, Yoshinori Muto and Joselu.
With Newcastle starting the second half on the front foot, and Ritchie looking particularly lively for the visitors, Gracia elected to bring on Troy Deeney and Doucoure in search of an equaliser early on - and the decision paid off.
Deulofeu delivered a fine cross from the right flank for the unmarked Doucoure, who steered his header into the top corner.
Watford continued to press for the winner in the final few minutes with Success' tame effort landing into the grateful arms of Dubravka as Newcastle held on for a precious point.
- Watford have drawn a Premier League match at home for the first time since April, having won six and lost five of their last 11 matches before today.
- Newcastle have now won just one of their last seven league games (D3 L3), following a sequence of three straight wins prior to this run.
- Watford have picked up just nine points from their last 10 Premier League matches (P10 W2 D3 L5), 10 fewer than the number they amassed in the previous 10 such games before this run (P10 W6 D1 L3 - 19 points).
- Despite conceding late, Newcastle United have only lost one of their last six away games in the top-flight (W2 D3), this after suffering five defeats in the previous seven matches on their travels beforehand.
- Watford's Gerard Deulofeu has had a direct hand in four goals in his last four Premier League games (two goals, two assists), as many goal involvements as in his previous 36 games combined.
- Newcastle striker Salomón Rondón has scored five goals in his last eight Premier League matches, as many strikes as in his previous 30 such games in the competition.
Javi Gracia: "It was a difficult game. We knew before the start that after conceding the goal it was even more difficult but we had the possession. We knew we would have the possession but it wasn't enough to control the game all the time.
"We created good chances in the beginning and when they scored their goal it was more difficult for us. We tried until the end. We crated some new chances and we scored one goal for the draw."
Rafael Benitez: "It's frustrating. You have to give credit to our players because they're working so hard trying to do the things that we wanted them to do.
"We did well against a good team and they are where they are in the table because they have some good players and the play well. I'm happy with the effort and the work rate of everyone."
Man of the Match - Abdoulaye Doucoure
With Watford looking relatively uninspiring going forward after going a goal down, Doucoure helped swing the game in the hosts' favour when he was introduced off the bench early in the second half.
He combined well with fellow substitute Deeney to cause the Newcastle defence problems and capped his performance off with a crucial equaliser in the 82nd minute as he displayed his goalscoring prowess once again.
Watford travel to Bournemouth on January 2. Newcastle, meanwhile, host Manchester United on the same evening.