Walter Mazzarri claimed his first win as Watford manager in a spectacular game at the London Stadium. Two goals from Michail Antonio and a piece of genius from Dimitri Payet were not enough for the home side as the Hornets stormed back, scoring four unanswered goals to take three points in impressive fashion.
A sensational first half kicked into gear in the very first minute. West Ham were on the front foot from the off, led by new England squad member Antonio. A run in the first minute, half-stagger half-sprint, covered the length of the pitch and forced Heurelho Gomes into a save he could only parry back into the path of Payet, but his shot was then blocked.
In the sixth minute Italian debutant Simone Zaza forced a corner. Returning hero Payet stepped over to take it. His inswinging ball eluded Winston Reid at the front post but found Antonio on the penalty spot with only Troy Deeney around him. Antonio stooped and his header came off Deeney and past the bewildered Gomes to open the scoring.
Watford were all over the place at the back but powerful going forward and Odion Ighalo could have scored three times before 15 minutes of the game were up. In the third minute he squared up against James Collins, threw him off balance and fired a shot just wide of the post. A quick counterattack in the eighth minute left the nimble Roberto Pereyra bearing down on the West Ham goal. Entering the box he squared the ball for Ighalo who took a touch and got a shot off but Reid managed to get a deflection on to the ball. Four minutes later Ighalo was on the spot again to connect with Daryl Janmaat’s cross. The Nigerian hit his volley into the ground but Adrián saved with his legs.
The game was wide open but West Ham looked like they had sealed the result when they doubled their lead just after the half hour. It all came from a moment of joyous skill from the home side’s talisman Payet. A clever positional shift had opened up the opportunity, Antonio and Payet swapping wings just seconds before the Frenchman received the ball on the Watford left. Payet bore down on Miguel Britos and sent him one way in the box, only to cut back immediately.
Britos was flummoxed but Payet was not done, opting not to cross with his left foot but rabona with his right. The technique was perfect and Antonio dived in at the far post to connect with a storming header.
A previously quiet stadium erupted and the home side looked like they would cruise into half time. But then, with 41 minutes on the clock, Ighalo found himself one on one with Collins again. The same trick, the same result but this time the shot was on target and squirmed under the sprawling Adrián.
By the time the whistle blew for the interval and to the almost audible surprise of the entire ground, Watford were level. It was through their own little piece of genius too, not that Deeney is often garlanded with such language. Only minutes before, the skipper and heartbeat of this Watford side had had to bail out left back José Holebas after another marauding Antonio run. But with less than 60 seconds of added time on the clock he bore down on a long ball and forced Adrián to punch it out of his area. Deeney chased down the ball and, with the Hammers defence bearing down on him, took one look and chipped the ball over the lot and into the far stanchion. It was wonderful.
Two each at half time and the match was in the balance. But Watford had grown in confidence and came out determined to swing the match their way. After seven minutes they claimed the lead for the first time in the match thanks to their top scorer Etienne Capoue. Pereyra delivered the cross, spinning at the near post and delivering a left-footed ball that Ighalo tried to connect to with an overhead kick. He missed but the distraction was enough and Capoue was free to volley left-footed through Adrián again.
The Spaniard’s afternoon was about to get even worse though. The previously troubled Holebas started it, robbing West Ham of possession on the edge of their own box. Holebas played in Ighalo, and after a series of stepovers, the striker returned the ball to the wing-back who hit the ball first time and under Adrián once again.
This time, the game was truly over. West Ham were unable to get behind Watford again. The visitors had another goal ruled out for substitute striker Stefano Okaka who then had to hobble off injured in injury time. By the time he did so, the ground was half empty.
News Source TheGuardianNews