Watford 2-2 Southampton: Abdoulaye Doucoure scores controversial late goal as Marco Silva's side battle back from two down to take a point
- Abdoulaye Doucoure scored a late equaliser with his hand as Watford and Southampton drew 2-2
- Saints midfielder James Ward-Prowse scored twice in the first half to put the visitors in control
- Andre Gray pulled a goal back for Watford in the second half and they turned up the pressure late on
- Doucoure then brought Watford level late on but he bundled the ball into the net with his hand
At the end of a week which marked the advent of video technology in English football, this was the moment that might finally push it over the line and into regular use.
With Watford chasing this game in its dying seconds the ball looped over Southampton’s defence and Abdoulaye Doucoure was at the back post, raising his gloved hand to punch an equaliser into the net.
It was more boxing jab than clever finish; an incredible piece of foul play that referee Roger East and assistant Derek Eaton failed to spot.
Abdoulaye Doucoure scored a controversial equaliser as Watford came from two down to draw 2-2 with Southampton
The Watford midfielder appeared to punch the ball into the back of the net to claim a late equaliser for the hosts
The match officials failed to notice the handball and the goal stood, much to the delight of the home fans
Southampton's players appealed to referee Roger East but the officials failed to notice the obvious handball
Defender Cedric then turned to the linesman to vent his frustrations but the officials' decision was not altered
Saints boss Mauricio Pellegrino, under pressure with the side hovering above the drop zone, had to settle for a point
MATCH FACTS, LEAGUE TABLE AND MATCH ZONE
Watford (4-3-3): Gomes 6; Janmaat 6.5, Wague 5, Kabasele 4.5, Zeegelaar 4.5; Doucoure 7, Cleverley 5.5 (Pereyra 35mins, 6.5), Watson 5.5 (Deeney 46, 8); Carrillo 6.5, Gray 7 (Okaka 73, 6), Richarlison 6.5.
Subs not used: Karnezis, Prodl, Mariappa, Holebas.
Goals: Gray 58, Doucoure 90.
Manager: Marco Silva 7.
Southampton (4-2-3-1): McCarthy 6.5; Cedric 6.5, Stephens 6.5, Hoedt 6, Bertrand 6.5; Hojbjerg 5, Romeu 5.5; Ward-Prowse 7.5 (Sims 90), Tadic 7.5 (Boufal 90), Davis 6 (Lemina 62, 6); Long 7.5.
Subs not used: Forster, Pied, Bednarek, Gabbiadini.
Booked: Hojbjerg, Romeu, McCarthy, Tadic, Cedric.
Goals: Ward-Prowse 20, 44.
Manager: Mauricio Pellegrino 6.
Referee: Roger East 4
Man of the match: Troy Deeney
With that, Southampton lost their chance of a plucky first win in 10 Premier League matches and Watford rescued a point to improve a recent record that isn’t much better.
Brighton vs Crystal Palace and Chelsea vs Arsenal might have trialled the virtual assistant referee in the cup competitions this week, but Mauricio Pellegrino was left to rue the lack of it in the Premier League here.
‘It’s clear,’ the under-pressure Southampton manager said. ‘I’m feeling like all my players in the dressing room. We are a little bit sad.
‘The last goal is something that surprised me. For me the level of refereeing is good in the Premier League but this is clear.
‘Everybody makes mistakes. At this level the problem is that you have a lot to win and lose and we are a little bit disappointed.’
It was something of a shame for Watford, too. Their outstanding fightback in this game, led by substitute Troy Deeney, will be largely forgotten among all the controversy.
They fell behind to a James Ward-Prowse first-half double as Dusan Tadic and Shane Long ran the show but then turned the screw in the second period with Andre Gray scoring before the late drama.
‘I don’t need to talk more about the (second) goal,’ Hornets boss Marco Silva said. ‘I think we deserved the result. It’s true we did well the second half but we did really badly in the first.
‘We didn't put the right attitude or the right mentality in the first half. It was completely different second half.’
Silva’s assessment was spot on.
James Ward-Prowse scored two first-half goals as Southampton appeared to be on course for three points on Saturday
The midfielder opened the scoring after he finished off some wonderful work on the wing from team-mate Shane Long
Having not scored a Premier League goal so far this campaign before Saturday, Ward-Prowse look delighted to finally net
Ward-Prowse was quickly congratulated by team-mates Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg (right) and Oriol Romeu at Vicarage Road
Just one minute before half-time, Ward-Prowse extended Southampton's lead as he fired past Heurelho Gomes
Watford, coming into this game on a run of seven defeats in their last nine in the league, were timid from the start and came undone through the fight of Long.
First, Southampton’s Irish centre forward battled away from Christian Kabasele down the right before charging to the byline and cutting back with Steven Davis and Ward-Prowse advancing.
The former provided a deft flick with his heel; the latter then had time to slide a perfect finish into the bottom-left corner.
Then, just before the end of the first half, Long broke free again. He roasted the chasing Molla Wague before looking up to see Tadic waiting. The Serbian star took the low cross into his feet and, sensing Ward-Prowse advancing over his right shoulder, tapped it across for the Saints No 16 to drive in for 2-0.
Watford were booed off at the break but Deeney, who says he is taking his time at the club day-by-day amid interest from Newcastle United and West Bromwich Albion, proved to be the catalyst of a turnaround.
The bulky centre forward came on in a change of formation and led the piling on of pressure, which eventually told when Deeney worked the ball across to right back Daryl Janmaat — his drive was tipped on to the bar by Alex McCarthy and Gray headed in the rebound.
A burst of pace from Long saw him find Dusan Tadic in the box and he rolled the ball into Ward-Prowse before he fired home
Southampton were denied a first Premier League win in 10 games as they continue to try to turn their fortunes around
Andre Gray managed to pull a goal back for Marco Silva's side as he headed past Alex McCarthy in the Southampton goal
Daryl Janmaat fired a shot off the bar and Gray was quickest to react and head in his first goal for the Hornets at Vicarage Road
This time the Serbian’s touch was more solid. He took the low cross into his feet and, sensing Ward-Prowse advancing over his right shoulder, tapped it across for the Saints No 16 to drive in for 2-0.
More boos followed for Watford at half-time and manager Marco Silva responded by throwing another forward on: Troy Deeney replacing Ben Watson.
But it still wasn’t coming together — a feeling summed up when Gray and Richarlison went up for the same free header, getting in each others’ way to waste the biggest chance to respond.
Still, they were trying. Deeney was a nuisance and gave Southampton something different to think about. His backheel into the feet of Richarlison would have provided a goal, had it not been for the heroic block of Ryan Bertrand.
Fans paid tribute to former Watford manager Graham Taylor after the first anniversary of his death fell on Friday
Taylor managed Watford across two spells totalling 15 years and was also chairman from 2009 to 2012
Current boss Marco Silva looked largely unimpressed with his side's performance as their run without a win continues
Doucoure looked dejected as Ward-Prowse put Southampton 2-0 up just before the half-time whistle
It took until the final moments for Watford to find a path through again. Deeney headed Roberto Pereyra’s cross across the area, perfectly into the path for Doucoure to provide the finishing touch by any means necessary… ultimately using his right hand.
Cedric Soares even earned a booking for his protests — salt in the wound for Southampton. Bring on the VAR revolution.
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