M'Baye Niang screamer and record-breaking Troy Deeney help Watford see off lacklustre West Brom

Luke Brown
The Independent
M'Baye Niang celebrates opening the scoring at Vicarage Road: Getty
M'Baye Niang celebrates opening the scoring at Vicarage Road: Getty

The day began with Walter Mazzarri being told by the Watford hierarchy that his job could quite possibly be under threat if he did not begin to make more of an effort to speak English to supporters and journalists. It ended with the club reflecting on a second successive victory, sitting in the top-half of the Premier League table.

Watford were brilliant despite being forced to play the last 25-minutes with ten men after Miguel Britos was shown a second yellow card, and the board will surely be happy with Mazzarri conducting all future press conferences in Swahili if he can keep delivering these kind of performances.

Troy Deeney was the undisputed star of the show, doubling Watford’s advantage early on in the second-half to become the first player in club history to score in four consecutive home Premier League games. But it was M'Baye Niang who really caught the eye, opening the scoring with a stunning strike from outside the box and repeatedly terrorising Craig Dawson down the left.

Waftord, buoyed by their first win in their last five Premier League outings against Sunderland on Saturday, started brightly and took the lead in spectacular fashion after just a quarter of an hour, with West Brom’s defence beginning the game in uncharacteristically ragged fashion.

Naturally, their captain fantastic Troy Deeney was involved, cutely nodding a long punt downfield to Niang in space on the left wing. The Frenchman gracefully glided infield with the ball and was — criminally — shown onto his stronger right foot by the retreating Craig Dawson.

What an error of judgement that proved from the full-back. Seizing the opportunity to shoot, Niang unleashed an unstoppable drive high into the top right corner of the goal, leaving the usually dependable Ben Foster flailing at thin air.

The goal was a moment of vindication for Niang, whose arrival on loan from AC Milan was much trumpeted in these parts but who has struggled to make much of an impact for his new team playing out wide on the left. But the enigmatic 22-year-old — a powerful runner capable of moments of outrageous skill — is growing in confidence and looked dangerous whenever the ball was moved out wide.

West Brom were rattled, with both Dawson and James McClean perhaps fortunate to escape dismissals for unnecessarily cynical challenges. But despite their frustration, as well as Watford’s surfeit of possession, the Baggies were unlucky to find themselves trailing the game at half-time.

With Hal Robson-Kanu handed the role of harrying the Watford defence all over the pitch, the rather more refined Nacer Chadli was their main goal threat. And the former Tottenham man twice spurned good goal-scoring opportunities, first firing a rebound across the face of goal, before striking the outside of the post with a fine curling free-kick from the edge of the area, after Britos had clumsily hauled down Robson-Kanu.

Chadli was made to pay for his profligacy as, just two minutes after the restart and with large swathes of the home support still taking their seats, Deeney grabbed his milestone goal.

The electric Niang turned provider, spotting Deeley’s powerful run in between West Brom’s two centre-backs. Outmuscling both, Deeney broke into the penalty area and did just about enough to bundle the ball beyond the onrushing Foster. An unorthodox finish, but one Deeney is unlikely to forget.

Deeney bundles the ball past Foster to help win Watford all three points (Getty)
Deeney bundles the ball past Foster to help win Watford all three points (Getty)

The home side looked on course to coast to a routine victory — almost extending their lead further when another vicious Niang strike ricocheted out for a corner — when West Brom were thrown a lifeline. Salomon Rondon, chucked on by Pulis just moments before, was played through with a long ball over the top, leaving Britos little choice but to bring him down.

He was strangely shown a second yellow rather than straight red but the end result was the same: Watford forced to play out the closing exchanges with their backs very much against the wall, and the distinctly peculiar sight of a Tony Pulis side with five players camped out on the edge of the opposing team’s penalty area.

The impressive Rondon, a marked improvement on Robson-Kanu, almost immediately made Watford pay with his boisterous running up front. His ambitious half-volley attempt from outside the area flew only narrowly wide while his looping header looked to have Gomes beaten, before landing fortuitously on the roof of the net.

West Brom continued to pour forward in the closing stages with Fletcher and Phillips both going close, but again they allowed their tempers to boil over late on. This time it was Allan Nyom, who quit Watford for the Hawthorns last summer, who was lucky not to see red after clattering Issac Success.

His miserable return to Vicarage Road was completed in the dying moments, as the defender side-footed wide with the entire goal at his mercy. That just about summed up West Brom’s night, on an absolutely magnifico night for Mazzarri’s Watford.

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