Two early goals earned the Hornets an impressive win over the Premier League champions as they beat Leicester City 2-1 at Vicarage Road on Saturday (Nov 19).
Étienne Capoue netted his fifth goal of the season after just 32 seconds as he volleyed a strike past Ron-Robert Zieler.
The lead was increased further just before the 15th minute as Roberto Pereyra showed his full worth, curling a sublime effort into the far-corner.
Riyad Mahrez halved the deficit, powerfully dispatching from the spot after Jamie Vardy had been brought down by Miguel Britos.
That brought an end to the scoring though, as the Hornets earned all three points on a chilly November afternoon at The Vic.
Head Coach Walter Mazzarri made two changes to the side that lost at Liverpool. Odion Ighalo and the suspended José Holebas made way, with Camilo Zuniga and Sebastian Prödl returning to the Hornets’ starting line-up.
Speaking prior to the game, Mazzarri stated he wanted a quick start and he certainly got one. Pereyra broke down the left and crossed into Deeney, who’s cushioned header found Capoue, and the Frenchman volleyed home on the bounce over Zieler.
The Hornets’ energetic start continued, and that lead was doubled inside 15 minutes through a wonderful solo effort from Pereyra. The Argentine cut in onto his right-foot before bending in a superb effort in the far-corner.
It looked as if the Golden Boys were in complete control, but the lead was halved minutes later. Vardy was clumsily brought down by Britos inside the area, allowing Mahrez the opportunity to slot home from the spot.
The game had somewhat slowed after such an exciting beginning, however, the Hornets arguably should have had a third with just under ten minutes remaining in the half. A defensive slip allowed Deeney a run towards goal, before he teed up the unmarked Amrabat who couldn’t direct a strike on goal from eight-yards.
Chances were few and far between after the interval, as the Golden Boys attacked the Rookery End on the floodlit turf. It was the hosts who had the first clear-cut opportunity after 20 minutes, with Zieler denying. Daryl Janmaat’s cross found the unmarked Pereyra at the far-post, but the attacker’s header was saved on the line by the Foxes’ keeper.
Claudio Ranieiri looked to his bench for inspiration with 20 minutes to go, as Jeff Schlupp and Demarai Gray looked to add more attacking flair to the visitors who still trailed 2-1. The substitutes seemed to be the catalyst for intense pressure as the Foxes searched for a precious equaliser.
Both Schlupp and Huth had good chances, the first being blocked by Capoue, with the second a tame effort that was collected at ease by Gomes.
On the counter, the Golden Boys still looked dangerous, with Janmaat fizzing an effort just over the target, before Amrabat broke free before sending his strike in a similar direction.
Stefano Okaka was introduced for his first home minutes as we approached injury time, and it was the Hornets who were to hold strong to claim the win.
HORNETS: Gomes (GK); Kaboul, Prödl, Britos; Janmaat, Pereyra, Behrami, Capoue, Zuniga; Amrabat (Guedioura, 86); Deeney (c) (Okaka, 88).
Subs: Pantilimon (GK), Mariappa, Watson, Sinclair, Ighalo.
FOXES: Zieler (GK); Simpson, Huth, Morgan (c), Fuchs (Schlupp, 68) ; Mahrez, Drinkwater, Amartey Albrighton (Musa, 78); Okazaki (Gray, 68) ; Vardy.
Subs: Hamer, Hernandez, King, Wasilewski.
Goals: Capoue (1), Pereyra (12), Mahrez (15, pen).
Booked: Zuniga (20), Britos (31), Fuchs (53), Drinkwater (64), Gray (81).