26/07/2017

Report | Watford 1-2 Rangers

Watford were denied by a late Rangers winner despite a much-improved second-half display in today's behind-closed-doors training ground friendly.

Daniel Candeias handed the Scottish Premiership side the lead shortly before half-time, but Stefano Okaka was on-hand to equalise midway through the second-half after Nathaniel Chalobah's driven shot had rebounded off the cross-bar.

The Hornets went close to taking the lead on a number of occasions as the game wore on, but it was Rangers' Martyn Waghorn who settled affairs with just two minutes remaining.

Pedro Caixinha's side nearly took a first-minute lead through Kenny Miller, who drew a close-range save from Costel Pantilimon as Rangers raced out of the blocks.

Chalobah had Watford's first chance with quarter-of-an-hour played. The ex-Chelsea midfielder's free-kick from just outside the area was palmed away by Rangers keeper Jak Alnwick.

Sebastian Prödl headed just over the target after Etienne Capoue swung over a free-kick from the left-hand side with 36 minutes played, then moments later Nordin Amrabat saw a curling effort saved.

Just three minutes before the break, Candeias converted Lee Wallace's deep cross via the near post to hand Rangers the lead.

Marco Silva opted to introduce Daniel Bachmann, Kiko Femenia, Younes Kaboul and Will Hughes at the start of the second-half, with Pantilimon, Daryl Janmaat, Prodl and Capoue making way.

Alnwick kept out substitute Hughes' control and volley after some clever link-up play down the right between Amrabat and Femenia, who impressed going forward during his first appearance in a Watford shirt.

Watford drew level in the 59th minute thanks to Okaka, who reacted quickest to convert from close-range after Chalobah's long-range effort cannoned off the bar with Alnwick beaten.

Femenia's cross then found Isaac Success at the far post and the Nigerian's header was well saved by the Rangers goalkeeper.

There was a welcome return to action for Roberto Pereyra with 25 minutes left to play. The Argentine playmaker replaced Success for his first game-time since December.

Ben Watson, Steven Berghuis and Jerome Sinclair also came on Chalobah, Amrabat and Okaka.

Sinclair's impact was almost instant. The former Liverpool forward beat his man and struck the top of the near post after running onto a clever flick by Pereyra.

Substitute keeper Bachmann was twice called into action late on - first tipping an Alfredo Morelos header wide at full stretch, then getting down well to deny the Colombian one-on-one.

Charlie Rowan replaced fellow Under-23 defender Brandon Mason with six minutes to go in the Hornets' final substitution.

Just as the game seemed destined for a draw, Waghorn found the bottom right-hand corner with a clever finish from inside the area to hand Rangers a late winner.

HORNETS: Pantilimon (GK) (Bachmann, HT); Janmaat (Femenia, HT), Prödl (c) (Kaboul, HT), Kabasele, Mason (Rowan, 84); Doucouré, Chalobah (Watson, 64); Amrabat (Berghuis, 64), Capoue (Hughes, HT), Success (Pereyra, 64); Okaka (Sinclair, 64).


Come and pay tribute to Watford's greatest ever manager at The Graham Taylor Matchday on Sat Aug 5.

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First Team 23/07/2017

Highlights | SD Eibar 0-1 Watford

Watford completed a successful pre-season training camp in Austria this afternoon, defeating SD Eibar in Kufstein courtesy of an Étienne Capoue goal. 

It was a hard-earned win, as the La Liga side forced Marco Silva's men to soak up sustained periods of pressure, albeit without creating substantial clear-cut chances. 

Stefano Okaka had the Hornets' best early opportunity, as he took down a hooked long ball from Christian Kabasele before powering past three Eibar players, only to be taken down when in on goal. Perhaps the merit of a penalty wasn't entirely clear, but when the referee chose to give a free-kick the other way, Okaka and many watching on were slightly bemused.

Eibar were the next to go close, former Manchester United man Bebe will think he should have done better when the ball came loose on the edge of Watford's box and he belted it a foot the wrong side of the post. 

A quick break just before half-time almost caught the Hornets out, but the well-involved Bebe's ball was eventually cleared after a nervy moment of insecurity within the Watford box.

There were good battles for Jose Holebas and Daryl Janmaat in the full-back positions, Ivan Alejo on the right and Bebe on the left keeping the Watford men busy. 

Chalobah and Capoue embrace after the Frenchman's winner

Three changes came from Silva at the interval, with Nathaniel Chalobah, Jerome Sinclair and Adboulaye Doucouré all getting the nod. 

Sinclair was on the receiving end of a not-so-friendly challenge early in the half, Alejo looking up to a yellow card as he apologised to the Watford winger for a late tackle. The Spaniard could have been off moments later as he tumbled theatrically under Holebas' challenge, but leniency was shown by the referee.

Nano almost notched the opener for the opposition in an almost chanceless second period, finding Alejo's inside ball and poking wide via an outstretched Watford leg. 

And the miss proved costly, as the Hornets took the lead moments later. Positive play on the left from substitute Isaac Success saw the ball set up for Capoue, who swivelled and hit the ball home low through Marko Dmitrovic's fingers.

The Hornets were quickly back on the bus and on their way to the airport, as they make a swift return to the UK to prepare for the trip to Aston Villa next week. 

HORNETS: Gomes (GK) (c) (63, Bachmann); Janmaat, Kabasele, Prödl, Holebas; Watson (HT, Chalobah), Capoue; Berghuis (HT, Sinclair), Hughes (HT, Doucouré), Amrabat; Okaka (Success, 63).

Subs not used: Rowan.