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Matchday review

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Fri 23 Feb At 16.02 PM

Highlights | West Brom 2-2 Watford

  • First-half goals from Rondon and Evans stun Hornets
  • Doucouré hits back before the break
  • Richarlison scores header in second-half stoppage time to equalise
  • Hornets unbeaten on the road going into international break

This team just doesn't know when it's beaten.

With time running out and their unbeaten away record hanging by a thread, Richarlison, that Brazilian whizkid, rose highest to head in a brilliantly flighted free-kick from Jose Holebas. West Brom are supposed to be the best team in the league from set-pieces but they had no answer to the aerial prowess of Richarlison. Not content with a last-minute winner last week, he popped up with the equaliser in stoppage time to complete a remarkable comeback from two goals down. What a player this boy from Fluminense is.  

Few could argue the Golden Boys didn't deserve a point. They were the busier and more progressive of the two sides, mustering more attempts on goal, forcing more corners and enjoying the lion’s share of possession. Crucially, they just kept going, kept plugging away after giving themselves an uphill task by going two goals down in the space of three first-half minutes. 

The excellent Abdoulaye Doucouré pulled one back on 37 minutes and the lively Richarlison always looked the best hope of getting an equaliser and he did just that in quite thrilling fashion. 

Watford began like the home side, enjoying a monopoly on possession in the first 15 minutes, forcing the first corner of the game and looking nimble and cohesive. But that won’t have bothered Tony Pulis one iota, as he sets very little stall by how much his team sees of the ball. 

And his theory was proved correct on 18 minutes when his side, playing very much on the counterattack, scored with their first sniff of goal. The Hornets' back four was caught square by a lofted ball over the top from Grzegorz Krychowiak. Soloman Rondon muscularly shrugged off the challenge of Christian Kabasele and then beat Heurelho Gomes at the near post. The goal was very much against the run of play.
 
If the first goal was a sucker punch then the second, just three minutes later, was a body blow. A corner from the left was flicked into the path of Jonny Evans, one of two unmarked players at the far post, and he bundled the ball in. Watford now had their work cut out. 
 
To their immense credit, they refused to throw the towel in and began, slowly but surely, to stop the bleeding and then plot a route back into the match. They stuck to the smooth and quick passing principles they began the game with and started to get Richarlison more into the game. 
 
The Brazilian registered the visitors’ first attempt on target with a header and then following some neat interplay with Troy Deeney, he scooped a cross to the far post that Andrè Carrillo, arriving at full tilt, could only head over. 
 
The feeling that a goal was coming materialised on 33 minutes when Doucourè ran off the back of Richarlison following a flick by Deeney, drove into the left side of the penalty area before shooting across Foster and into the far corner for his third of an already productive season. Game on.
 
Watford finished the half much the stronger of the two sides and it was them who were the more disappointed to hear the half-time whistle.
 
The Hornets carried on in the second half where they left off in the first, seeking to play on the front foot. Capoue and Richarlison both had goal-bound efforts deflected or blocked as the visitors chased an equaliser. 
 
They continued to be the more ambitious of the two sides and with so much possession, Marco Silva introduced his most gifted ball player in Roberto Pereyra in a bid to unlock the door. Andre Gray was then slung on to see if he could engineer an equaliser.

Watford huffed and puffed right until the end but they must have thought the chance had gone until, with Gomes sent up for a late free-kick from Holebas, Richarlison struck deep, deep into stoppage time. What an ending. What a player.
 
HORNETS: Gomes (GK); Femenía, Mariappa, Kabasele, Holebas; Richarlison, Capoue (Pereyra 62), Doucouré, Cleverley, Carrillo (Gray 75); Deeney (c).

Subs not used: Karnezis (GK), Janmaat, Britos, Hughes, Watson.
 

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