On a cold and wet afternoon, Javi Gracia’s Watford welcomed a Cardiff side who haven’t won an away game in the league this season, including 7 defeats in the last 8 matches on the road. Although Neil Warnock’s men would arrive in good spirits after a 1-0 home victory against Southampton.
Watford started with a team naming only one change from Mondays 2-2 draw at Goodison Park. Gerard Deulofeu replaced Number 10 Isaac Success. 19-year-old Domingos Quina kept his midfield role following an impressive display midweek.
The Home side were the more impressive from the first whistle with Gerard Deulofeu causing havoc on the left side. He combined well with teammates Doucoure and Deeney. This proved to be the way forward, with the Spaniard sliding a fine finish beneath Etheridge in the 16th minute to put Watford ahead.
Following the opening goal Watford didn’t create too much. Cardiff saw more of the ball as the half progressed, without being able to cause problems in attack. To help Cardiff escape falling further behind Neil Etheridge made 2 superb stops just before the break. One of those was an outstanding dive from Roberto Pereyra’s right footed curling effort.
Slick football from Watford
Watford got the action back underway, and it took only 3 minutes before Pereyra forced a third save from the Cardiff Stopper. There was only so much he could do before Cardiff were cut open by fine football from Deulofeu. He cut it back to Holebas before brilliantly curling an effort into the top corner.
Play was halted as a break in play meant Cardiff’s Bennett required medical attention and he would soon be replaced by Lee Peltier. This was a major concern for the Bluebirds. The visitors also enjoyed a decent spell of tidy possession until it was wasted by Ecuele Manga’s poor attempt of a cross.
Cardiff’s lack of real conviction lead to further problems at the other end, superb slick play from Watford again, with Deulofeu tapping the ball to Sema. He then flicked it onto Quina, before the 19-year-old curled a beautiful shot beyond Neil Etheridge to open his account for the season.
Cardiff showed Character
Cardiff now appeared as though they just needed the final whistle. That, however, all changed very quickly. In started in the 80th minute when Junior Hoilett cut in from the left and curled an audacious effort beyond Ben fosters far post, at last something to celebrate for the travelling fans.
Then, just two minutes later, a long-throw from Morrison caused mayhem in Watford’s box. This resulted in substitute Bobby Reid poking a close-range effort home. This was now really game on and Cardiff had given themselves a lifeline. It looked like we were set for a tense end to the match.
Watford’s character was to be put to the test when the official signaled for there to be 5 minutes of additional time, but The Hornets held on to come out the other end victorious.
No one would have predicted this fixtures scoreline, but this game was an absolute thriller including 2 goal of the season contenders.
Javi Gracia’s men will now look to build on this win away at West Ham next week. It will not come easily though, whilst Cardiff need to come together before they welcome Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United to The Cardiff City Stadium.