Blues rally late at Vicarage Road
Written By: Robert Halter
In their three Premier League meetings at Vicarage Road, Chelsea had only been beaten on one occasion, way back in September 1999 as the Blues faced their first away fixture of the 2016/17 season. Watford had an opportunity in the seventh minute but Blues keeper, Thibaut Courtois, blocked out a low strike from Jose Holebas, who had been played through from a high ball over by Miguel Britos. In the eleventh minute, after a ball across by Pedro, a low cross from Eden Hazard, had to be put over from frantic defending by Holebas, as the Hornets took the sting out of a threat from the Blues. But on twenty four minutes, from a low delivery by Nordin Amrabat on the right, while under the challenge of Gary Cahill, the Golden Boys marksman, Odion Ighalo, turned the ball over, while in front of the target. In the thirty third minute, after Hazard had been pushed to the floor by Etienne Capoue, a free kick into the box from Oscar, had to be palmed away from Watford shot stopper, Heurelho Gomes. Before the half time break, a miss timed pass by Nemanja Matic fell into the path of Diego Costa, and it took a brave stop by Gomes, and then as the ball was released, it had to be shepherded back by Adlene Guedioura. But just before the whistle blew, Amrabat was penalised for bringing down Hazard, before the Belgian’s low free kick went straight into the reach of Gomes. On fifty two minutes, a cross by Oscar on the right went too far past Costa, before the ball was ballooned over by Hazard at the far post. But it was the Hornets who went ahead in the fifty fifth minute, when from Amrabat’s throw in, a cross was put over on the right by Guedioura, that went over the head of Troy Deeney, before landing in the position of Capoue, who launched the ball into the left side of the net. The Blues looked for a quick response, as Hazard drove a shot into the body of Gomes, after space was found by Pedro, down the right. In the sixty first minute, a miss firing Matic, put an effort wide of the right post, after Pedro had played a dummy to Hazard’s pass. After Branislav Ivanovic, cut the ball back from the right past Gomes, the ball was cleared over by Valon Behrami, to avert the danger in the sixty seventh minute. The Blues made a change with Victor Moses replacing Pedro, before bringing on Michy Batshuayi for Oscar, and then completed the substitutions with Cesc Fabregas taking over from Matic. It prompted a Chelsea equaliser in the eightieth minute, as Fabregas spread the ball out to Hazard, whose low stinging strike spun out of the hands of Gomes, and in front of the goal, Batshuayi, put the ball away inside the right hand post. Unfortunately, the Hornets goal scorer Capoue was forced to hobble off, after a lunge into him by Costa, and Abdoulaye Doucoure was brought on. Watford had more defending to do, when from Batshuayi’s delivery on the right, the ball was unable to be scrambled in by Ivanovic. After a stray ball by Guedioura, a match winning pass by Fabregas from inside his own half set Costa free, who made no mistake by striking the ball into the centre of the goal in the eighty seventh minute. Watford then changed Guedioura with Matej Vydra. The Blues then pressed again towards the end with a lay off from Moses but from outside the box, a right footed shot from N’Golo Kante, went high over the upright. In a final change by the Golden Boys, Camilo Zuniga took over from Holebas. In the fourth minute of stoppage time, Batshuayi smashed the ball against the crossbar with a left footed strike from the centre of the box, through an assist by Moses, which prevented the Blues getting a third goal but in consecutive matches a late goal by Costa had secured another 2-1 victory for Chelsea.