Tottenham Hotspur Tottenham Hotspur
With Championship football kicking off at Vicarage Road on Friday night and the Hornets looking to mount a promotion push, Vladimir Ivić’s side showed they still have some Premier League quality about them with a convincing win against Tottenham Hotspur at Vicarage Road.
A thunderous 25-yard strike from Domingos Quina and an emphatic Andre Gray penalty earned the victory against José Mourinho’s side at The Vic, with Heung-min Son pulling one back for the visitors from the spot late on.
Head Coach Ivić has had less than a month to work with his new squad, but the Serbian has clearly already made his mark on the team’s style of play. Watford were fluid and dynamic, with wing-backs Pervis Estupiñán and Jeremy Ngakia bombing forward and the five-strong midfield interchanging during quick counter-attacks.
The game’s first big opening fell to Quina, with the midfielder firing just wide after some neat build-up play. Shortly after, Tom Dele-Bashiru drilled in a low cross and once again Quina was in the box but could not connect.
After 20 minutes, though, Quina made no mistake. The 20-year-old picked the ball up from deep and, with Davinson Sánchez backing off, ran to within 25 yards of goal and fired a swerving drive past Joe Hart.
Spurs came close to equalising immediately through Son but Daniel Bachmann got down well to save the forward’s low effort from a wide position.
The Hornets then doubled their lead shortly before half-time, as Gray smashed a penalty past Hart after Dele-Bashiru was pulled down in the area.
Gray almost scored again soon after the break, latching onto an incisive through-pass by Quina. Under pressure from two defenders, the striker’s effort went wide of the post.
As the game wore on José Mourinho’s side pushed forwards and Watford’s defensive resolve was tested, but Nathaniel Chalobah brilliantly blocked a Lamela strike before Bachmann saved from the Argentine.
Ivić evaluated his squad’s depth, with the likes of João Pedro, Marc Navarro and new signing Glenn Murray all getting minutes under their belt, which will no doubt come in crucial with the games coming thick and fast this season.
Spurs pulled one back when Son converted from the penalty spot after a Murray foul, but it was not enough – and in fact it was the hosts who came closest to scoring again.
Goalkeeper Paulo Gazzaniga was sent forward by Mourinho for a late corner only for the Hornets to counter-attack. Marc Navarro shot towards the open goal from 50 yards, but a desperate dive from Son cleared the ball off the goal line.
It was a good test of fitness and fight for the Hornets ahead of Friday night’s Championship clash here against Middlesbrough.
Starting XI: Bachmann (GK), Kabasele, Wilmot, Dawson (Sierralta 59), Ngakia (Crichlow 89), Chalobah (Phillips 59), Dele-Bashiru (Murray 64), Estupiñán (Navarro 70), Cleverley (C) (Stevenson 89), Quina (Peñaranda 64), Gray (João Pedro 52).
Subs not used: Parkes (GK), Agyakwa.