Watford fought back from two goals down to claim a 2-2 draw against Southampton at Vicarage Road, as Marco Silva’s side left it late to complete their second-half fightback.
The Saints took the lead with a neat finish from James Ward-Prowse. The 23-year-old was in again on the edge of half-time, firing home from close-range to cap off a exhilarating counter-attack. Andre Gray’s header pulled a goal back for Watford in the second half, before Adoulaye Doucouré’s controversial effort earned his side a point late on – bouncing off the midfielder’s hand into the back of the net.
The began at a rip-roaring tempo, and it was the visitors who had the first chance of the match. In the third minute, powerful Saints midfielder Oriol Romeu slipped his way into the Watford penalty area, before the ball broke loose to Shane Long – whose weak effort was gratefully grasped by goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes from close-range.
After an energetic opening spell, the game began to simmer, as both teams looked to grab a foothold in the match. In the 19th minute, a cleared ball dropped to Watford defender Daryl Janmaat on the edge of the area, who rifled a vicious effort on goal that was superbly tipped over the bar by an acrobatic Alex McCarthy save.
The visitors took the lead in the 20th minute, as Southampton surged up the pitch to punish the Hornets on the counter. Shane Long burst down the right wing, before cutting inside and aiming a pass across goal. The ball was deflected back to Ward-Prowse, who drove home a cooly taken effort from ten yards out, which flew into the bottom corner of Gomes’ far-post.
Mauricio Pellegrino’s side looked to capitalise on their advantage, and launched fresh waves of attack at the vulnerable looking home defence. In the 23rd minute, Dušan Tadić powered down the right wing before finding Long with a pinpoint cross, only for the Irishman to divert his header straight at Gomes.
A minute later, the Saints came close to doubling their lead, as Wesley Hoedt’s audacious, 40-yard chip almost caught Gomes off-guard – as he scrambled back to somehow tip the dipping effort over his crossbar to safety. Marco Silva’s side were on the ropes, with the Saints producing the kind of positive football their fans had been crying out for in recent weeks.
Long missed another golden opportunity for the visitors in the 34th minute. Tadić caused more mayhem down the right wing, before finding Long at the back post. The forward tried to place his finish from five yards out, but a heroic Marvin Zeegelaar block denied him a goal. Watford came close to equalising in the 37th minute, as Christian Kabasele headed just over the bar.
Southampton deservedly doubled their lead in the 44th minute, with Ward-Prowse netting his second of the afternoon. Long received a long ball from Hoedt, before charging down the left wing. He expertly picked out Tadić in the box, whose deft lay-off was hammered into the back of the net by the onrushing Ward-Prowse to cap off a sensational team effort.
Watford started the second half brightly, and had an early chance in the 46th minute. Janmaat’s sweetly struck cross found Richarlison in the box, but teammate Gray got in the Brazilian’s way which forced his header harmlessly over the crossbar. The Hornets continued to plow forward, with Roberto Pereyra firing a shot wide from 18 yards out in the 55th minute.
The hosts were rewarded with a goal in the 58th minute, as their pressure finally drew dividends. Jamaat launched a long-range effort at McCarthy, who somehow stretched to palm the ball onto the crossbar. The rebound fell to Andre Gary, whose downward header bounced back up over the keeper and into the net.
The Saints sat deep and managed to absorb some of Watford’s pressure, digging in as the hosts looked to push for an equaliser. In the 90th minute, the Hornets scored a last gasp equaliser. Troy Deeney nodded a ball across the face of goal, which was bundled into the back of the net by Doucouré – who used his hand to propel the ball goalwards.