Watford took a significant step towards Premier League survival as two Troy Deeney penalties helped them result from behind to beat Newcastle 2-1 at Vicarage Road.
Dwight Gayle gave the visitors the lead when that he steered home from close range (23) but the hosts improved following the restart as Kiko Femenia was brought down in the box by Matt Ritchie, allowing Deeney to level (52).
The Watford captain completed the turnaround with a carbon copy from the location after Javier Manquillo upended Ismaila Sarr (82), as Nigel Pearson’s side moved six points clear of the relegation zone.
They remain 17th while Newcastle stay in 13th place in the Premier League table following a second straight defeat.
Watford: Foster (6), Masina (6), Femenia (6), Dawson (6), Kabasele (6), Doucoure (6), Capoue (6), Hughes (6), Sarr (6), Welbeck (6), Deeney (6).
Subs: Cleverley (n/a), Gray (n/a)
Newcastle: Dubravka (6), Manquillo (5), Rose (6), Fernandez (6), Lascelles (6), Schar (6), Shelvey (7), Ritchie (7), Saint-Maximin (6), Almiron (6), Gayle (7).
Subs: Krafth (6), Joelinton (5), Lazaro, (n/a) Bentaleb (n/a).
Man of the match: Troy Deeney.
How Watford found breathing space
There was a huge sigh of rest from Pearson at the final whistle after his side collected another huge three points after they won on their last outing on Tuesday – clinging onto defeat Norwich by the odd goal – but this has been a season that for so long has been shrouded in uncertainty.
Faced with a Newcastle side safely nestled in mid-table, this was a glimmer of light for the Hornets – nevertheless they were deservedly behind at the break.
The visitors had already threatened when, after 11 minutes, Jonjo Shelvey’s corner was inadvertently flicked on by Deeney, forcing Ben Foster to make a smart save at the far post from Miguel Almiron.
Watford were trying to win back-to-back league games for the very first time since January, and they almost broke the deadlock from the run of play when, from Femenia’s cross, Danny Welbeck struck the post, with a mix of Martin Dubravka’s glove and Jamaal Lascelles’ clearance avoiding the ball from crossing the line.
But Newcastle went ahead midway through the first half as Watford had not learned their lesson from the sooner set-piece.
Ritchie’s corner was flicked on by Federico Fernandez, allowing Gayle to prod home his third goal in his last five Premier League appearances.
Things may have been worse for the Hornets were it maybe not for the intervention of Foster, who saved together with his feet to deny the returning Allan Saint-Maximin following a lovely flick into his path from Gayle.
Watford boss Nigel Pearson named an unchanged line-up.The Hornets beat relegation rivals Norwich 2-1 on Tuesday and Danny Welbeck was included again here after scoring the winner with a fine overhead-kick against the Canaries.
Steve Bruce made five changes following Wednesday’s 5-0 thrashing at Manchester City, with Emil Krafth, DeAndre Yedlin, Valentin Lazaro, Nabil Bentaleb and Joelinton being replaced by Javier Manquillo, Jamaal Lascelles, Miguel Almiron, Allan Saint-Maximin and Dwight Gayle.
But Watford emerged reinvigorated upon the restart and they were awarded a penalty within six minutes of the 2nd period – the first conceded by Newcastle this term. Femenia did well to evade Fernandez’s challenge before his was caught by Ritchie.
Dubravka last saved a spot-kick with this ground two seasons ago, but that he was not able to keep out Deeney’s fierce drive for his first goal since February.
Watford’s talisman must have doubled his tally following a mistake by Fernandez presented the ball to him, but his shot was saved by Dubravka.
This was the hosts’ best amount of the game as moments later, Welbeck’s shot towards goal deflected off Danny Rose, wrong-footing Dubravka, but the ball looped just over.
The Hornets were transformed, but it took a clumsy challenge from Manquillo to gift them the chance to complete the turnaround as the Spaniard wrapped his arms around Sarr to provide referee Craig Pawson no option but to indicate the spot again with eight minutes remaining.
Deeney became the initial player to score multiple Premier League penalty in the same match since Paul Pogba did so against West Ham last season, once more rifling his attempt down the center as Watford earned some much-needed breathing space.
What the managers said
Watford boss Nigel Pearson: “It’s never easy for players to deal with the sustained disappointment we’ve had this season. We’ve not had a spell where we have been out of trouble and we’ve still got plenty of work to accomplish, but credit where it’s due. The players found answers today.
“It’s the second game in a week where we’ve gone a goal behind but we’ve been able to win it so we have to reflect on the positive aspects. It doesn’t matter how good a squad you have. They’ve still got to deal with the mental pressures, so credit to them.”
Newcastle boss Steve Bruce: “Decisions are designed to be clear and obvious but the penalties looked remarkably soft if you ask me. It was just what Watford needed, you could call us naive, but I felt these were very soft. This may be the fourth call like this within a few days. The first was softer than the 2nd. To lose a game this way is difficult to accept.
“I thought our first-half performance was excellent, Saint-Maximin forced a great save from Ben Foster that could’ve made it 2-0 and they needed a shot in the arm. I thought the only way they might beat us was through set-pieces – the first penalty gave them a lifeline.
“Whether we were naive or they were soft, I’ll let others make that judgement. We’re not getting the decisions in my opinion.”
Man of the match – Troy Deeney
There was simply no underplaying the importance with this game, with West Ham pulling clear themselves with a convincing win at Norwich, who Watford had come from behind to beat in their last outing.
Nigel Pearson may have told his players the scoreline at Carrow Road throughout the interval, together with his side deservedly trailing – but then came a response packed with character, light emitting diode by Deeney.
This was not his greatest game – not even close to it – but it may prove to be his most important in a Watford shirt. The Hornets took 12 more points inside their last 18 games than they achieved in their first 17, which indicates they’ve a squad that can do far better.
Only Mark Noble at Upton Park (75 per cent) and David Unsworth at Goodison Park (62 per cent) have scored a higher part of their goals at a particular venue via penalties than Deeney has at Vicarage Road (48 per cent – 13/27).
- Watford have won back-to-back Premier League games, despite conceding the first goal in both matches. The Hornets had only won two of the previous 46 in your competition when shipping the opening goal before today (D7 L37).
- Newcastle remain winless in six Premier League matches at Vicarage Road (D3 L3), only playing more matches at The Dell (8) and the Etihad Stadium (15) without winning.
- Newcastle (52%) enjoyed more possession than Watford this afternoon, only the seventh time they’ve had significantly more than their opponents in the Premier League this season – the Magpies have only managed to win one of those matches (D3 L3).
Watford travel to face West Ham at the London Stadium on Friday, live on Sky Sports (kick-off 8pm). Newcastle host Tottenham at 6pm on Wednesday.