Watford

3

Norwich City

2

Watford fought back from two goals down to secure a thrilling win over Norwich City in the freezing cold at Vicarage Road.

It looked set to be a long night for the Hornets when the Canaries raced into a two-goal lead early on, Danny Batth’s header and a stunning long-distance strike from Hwang Ui-Jo leaving the home side shellshocked.

But two goals in three minutes turned the game on its head, with Ismaël Koné netting his first in Watford colours and Mileta Rajović converting for the seventh time this season in a topsy-turvy first half.

Yáser Asprilla capped off a dynamic second-half display with the winning goal as the game approached its final stages, completing a remarkable and thoroughly deserved comeback in the Sky Bet Championship.

With Daniel Bachmann suspended following his sending off at Leicester on Saturday, stand-in goalkeeper Ben Hamer was one of three changes to the Hornets’ starting XI. Koné and Asprilla also came in for Imrân Louza and Tom Ince.

There were barely two minutes on the clock when Batth rose unchallenged to meet a Gabriel Sara corner and head home the game’s opening goal for Norwich.

Things were to get worse with 12 minutes played, Hwang sending a powerful, dipping 25-yarder over Hamer’s head and into the net to double the visitors’ advantage.

Norwich threatened once more from a Sara corner midway through the half but this time Hamer was equal to Shane Duffy’s header, tipping it over at full stretch.

Yet to test George Long in the Canaries’ goal, Jamal Lewis finally drew a parried save from the keeper with a speculative effort and the lurking Koné just couldn’t get to the loose ball in time before it was smothered.

Koné did get his goal moments later though, drilling a precision effort into the far bottom corner from outside the area to halve the deficit with 30 minutes played.

The mood inside Vicarage Road instantly lifted and when Lewis delivered a lofted cross from the left-hand side three minutes later, Rajović was on hand at the back post to head in the equaliser.

There was a flurry of chances late in the half, with Hamer keeping out an Adam Idah shot at one end, then Long pushing Asprilla’s fierce effort over the bar at the other.

Fresh from scoring his first Watford goal last time out at The Vic against Rotherham, a confident looking Edo Kayembe curled narrowly high of the target in stoppage time and those in attendance were left to catch their breath during the interval after a frenetic opening 45 minutes.

Watford were quick out of the blocks following the break, Koné demonstrating fancy footwork before drawing a save from Long, who then had to be alert to save a deflected Ryan Andrews cross from creeping in under the bar.

Canada international Koné was a constant threat for the Hornets and with just under an hour played he clattered the bar from just outside the box. From the resulting loose ball, Kayembe aimed a low shot towards goal but it was a comfortable catch for Long.

Watford remained on the front foot and their dominance paid off with 13 minutes to go when Wesley Hoedt’s ambitious-looking attempt from 30 yards was parried by Long. Quick to pounce, Asprilla’s outrageous piece of skill took him past the keeper and the Colombian coolly placed the ball inside the near post to make it 3-2.

Norwich appeals for a handball fell on deaf ears as the ball had already crossed the line before it was cleared onto Ryan Porteous’ arm and back into the net.

Trailing for the first time, the Canaries pushed forward in search of an equaliser and came close to doing so through a Borja Sainz volley, but Hamer produced a fine save to punch over the substitute’s attempt.

The Hornets saw the game out to complete a memorable victory under the Vicarage Road lights, with attention now turning to Hull City away this Saturday.

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