Watford vs Southampton. Premier League.
Report and free highlights as Danny Ings double and wonderful James Ward-Prowse free-kick see off struggling Hornets
Monday 29 June 2020 06:04, UK
Danny Ings scored twice as Southampton piled the pressure on struggling Watford with a 3-1 victory at Vicarage Road on Sunday.
Ings registered his 20th goal of the season with a superb solo effort on 16 minutes and capitalised on Ben Foster's poor clearance with his 21st of the campaign 20 minutes from time.
Watford were handed a lifeline on 79 minutes when Southampton defender Jan Bednarek put through his own net, but the Hornets' hopes were extinguished three minutes later by James Ward-Prowse's spectacular free-kick.
A club-record eighth top-flight away win of the season lifts Southampton up to 13th and sees Ralph Hasenhuttl's side reach the coveted 40-point mark, while Watford remain just a solitary point clear of the relegation zone in 16th having played a game more than West Ham and Bournemouth.
The hosts got off to a slow start and they were behind in the 16th minute when Ings opened the scoring in fine fashion.
The in-form striker picked the ball up in the midfield before skipping past challenges and drilling the ball past Ben Foster and into the corner of the net to score his ninth goal on the road in his last 11 away Premier League starts.
Nathan Redmond then tested Foster from a 30-yard free-kick as Saints looked to extend their advantage but the goalkeeper, making his 100th consecutive Premier League start, was able to make a comfortable save.
Watford struggled to create anything of note in the first-half but captain Troy Deeney sent a long-range effort high over Alex McCarthy's goal as Nigel Pearson looked to get a response from his side.
But the hosts were punished further when Ings capitalised on Foster's mistake to double his side's lead.
Ings plucked the former England keeper's poor throw out of the air before bursting into the penalty area and picking out the far corner via a deflection off defender Craig Dawson.
Watford trio Andre Gray, Nathaniel Chalobah and Domingos Quina were left out of Nigel Pearson's matchday squad for the Premier League game against Southampton.
A post on the club's Twitter account said all three players were omitted by the manager "to ensure the health and safety of all players, staff and officials at today's game". A newspaper report claimed striker Gray had hosted a party at his house for around 20 people on Friday.
Pearson made three other changes from the side which started the 1-0 defeat at Burnley on Thursday, with Craig Cathcart, Abdoulaye Doucoure and Roberto Pereyra included, while Tom Cleverley, Christian Kabasele and Danny Welbeck dropped out.
Southampton made five changes with Kyle Walker Peters, Jannik Vestergaard, Will Smallbone, Oriol Romeu and Shane Long called into the starting line-up.
Watford were handed a lifeline with just over 10 minutes left to play as Jose Holebas sent the ball in towards fellow substitute Danny Welbeck, and Saints defender Bednarek got there ahead of the striker to turn the ball into his own net.
However, less than three minutes later, Ward-Prowse whipped a stunning free-kick over the wall and into the net to make sure all three points went back to the south coast.
Sky Sports' Alan Smith: "All in Southampton shirts are at least an eight out of 10 but Ings has almost been a 10. He's been superb. No wonder he is smiling at the end of the game. He's tired but he's loved it out there. Everything he's done has shone with quality."
Only Jamie Vardy (19) has now scored more Premier League goals this season than the Southampton striker (18).
He has been directly involved in 12 goals in his last 11 away Premier League starts for Southampton (10 goals, two assists) - no player has more away Premier League goals this season than Ings' tally of 10.
And finally, he is the first Southampton player to reach double figures for goals away from home in a single Premier League season since Matt Le Tissier in 1993/94 (12).
Speaking to Sky Sports after the game, Ings insisted his sights were not set on the Premier League's Golden Boot award after taking his tally to 18 for the season.
"To be honest, no," he said. "I just want to play as many games and score as many goals as I can for the team. I'm fortunate enough to be up and around it now and hopefully I can keep building on that and score some more.
"After the last game (defeat to Arsenal) we were very disappointed really and it was important we came here today and did something about that, and I thought the lads were fantastic."
Watford boss Nigel Pearson: "We were second best for too long. We started the second half brightly, but you can't concede goals like that and give gifts to your opponents, it makes the job even harder.
"We've got to get back to doing what we've been very good at doing for long periods and that is to show a cohesion as a group of people, who can actually find the answers on the pitch. But at the moment it's frustrating because we're not achieving the types of performances that we know we're capable of doing.
"We have games left in which it's in our own hands to make sure that we assure our future in the Premier League. That's really what it's about. Nobody else is going to do it for us, we've got to do it ourselves."
Southampton boss Ralph Hassenhuttl on Ings: "Nobody will deny how important a player he is for us. Everything is possible. We will play with him in the last six games, and if he gets a chance, you see how fantastic his finishing is. He seems to be fitter than ever, he was hard working in shutdown [lockdown] and that gives him now fantastic physical options. It's definitely a sort of outrageous quality he has and when we scores it is
On the performance, he said: "I think we did quite well from the first minute, we were very disciplined, (had) good organisation and (were) a hard-working team and we deserved to win."
Watford now go to Champions League-chasing Chelsea on Saturday, July 4 at 8pm, live on Sky Sports. Southampton host Manchester City on Sunday, July 5 at 7pm.