Watford move off the bottom of the Premier League with win over Norwich

Yahoo Sport UK

Goalscorer Andre Gray celebrates with his Watford teammates. (Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images)
Goalscorer Andre Gray celebrates with his Watford teammates. (Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images)

Watford picked up their first win of the season and moved off the bottom of the Premier League with a hard-fought 2-0 win away at fellow relegation candidates Norwich City.

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Goals at the start of either half from Gerard Deulofeu and Andre Gray handed Quique Sanchez Flores a much needed three points and a first victory since returning to the club earlier this season.

The result sees the Hornets jump up to 18th place, remaining in the relegation zone but leapfrogging Norwich who now prop up the table in 20th.

Watford had only managed six goals so far this season but scored their seventh just seventy seconds into this Friday night encounter. Midfielder Emiliano Buendia, was caught in possession by Gerard Deulofeu who nicked the ball from the Argentine before driving forward.

Approaching the edge of the Norwich area, the Spaniard cut back onto his weaker left foot, making space before slotting the ball beyond the outstretched right arm of Tim Krul to give the Hornets a shock lead. 

In what has been a dismal season defensively for the Canaries, the early Watford goal was the 27th time they had been breached in just twelve outings. 

Despite their issues at the back, Daniel Farke’s side are a dangerous and fluid attacking proposition and responded by taking the game to the visitors. 

They came close to an equaliser on 20 minutes when a brilliant Marco Stiepermann through ball picked out the run of Onel Hernandez, however an alert Ben Foster rushed off his line to reach deny the winger and nick the ball away. 

It then fell to Teemu Pukki but his shot on the turn was blocked by Christian Kabasele. 

Norwich continued to play on the front foot while their opponents appear to be content to set up for the counter. 

One rare break forward saw Abdoulaye Doucoure weave his way into the opposition box but his attempted shot was blocked. 

The Hornets were dealt a blow on the half hour as Roberto Pereya was forced off with an injury, but almost immediately reaped the benefit from sub Gray whose first notable contribution was a close range shot that Norwich just managed to turn away for a corner.

The match then swung back in the favour of Farke’s side, with the Canaries spotting an obvious vulnerability down Watford’s right hand side.

Hernandez found himself in space on a number of occasions and it was his cross that found the head of Kenny McLean but the Scot’s effort was directed straight at Foster. 

Kabasele is shown a red card. (Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images)
Kabasele is shown a red card. (Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images)

Buendia then fired over after good work on the left again from Hernandez and Pukki, before the Finnish forward finished the half with a couple of chances but nothing too taxing for Foster.

Despite the home side ending the half stronger, it would be Watford who would come out firing in the second 45 and doubled their advantage within five minutes. 

A fine run from midfield by WIll Hughes found Deulofeu on the same area of the pitch the Hornets ironically had so much trouble defending before the break.

His cross picked out Gray whose inventive back-heeled effort took an unfortunate deflection off Jamal Lewis to creep into the bottom corner. 

The goal was Gray’s third Premier League strike after coming off the bench this calendar year - more than any other player. Given Watford’s issues in front of goal, would suggest he may have staked a claim for a starting place.

Lewis then tried to atone for Norwich with a rasping shot from distance which Foster had to push away before they were given a slight boost as Watford were reduced to ten men. 

Having already been booked after an earlier foul on Hernandez, Kabasele then took down sub Josip Drmic and was given his marching orders. 

Watford retreated but Norwich were unable to take advantage. The only chance of note coming from McLean’s long-range drive which Foster again, had to palm away.

The visitors saw out a much needed victory to give themselves hope in the battle to retain their top flight status.

Sanchez Flores side are three points behind Everton and Villa, putting some pressure on both those teams ahead of their respective weekend fixtures.

For Norwich it is now nine defeats for the season and just one point from their last seven games - a run Farke will be desperate to rectify after the impending international break.

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