Wat­ford take ad­van­tage of Burn­ley’s Euro­pean hang­over

Boss Gra­cia earns his first win on road as the Hor­nets make it two from two

The Irish Times - Monday - Sport - - Soccer - Paul Wil­son

Burn­ley 1 Tarkowski 6 Wat­ford 3 Gray 3, Deeney 48, Hughes 51

Things are look­ing up for Wat­ford, who proved their open­ing-day win against Brighton last week was no fluke with a sur­pris­ingly com­fort­able de­feat of the side who got clos­est to the top six last sea­son.

Burn­ley are not used to los­ing at home and Wat­ford are not used to win­ning away, but Javi Gra­cia’s first vic­tory on the road since tak­ing over at Vicarage Road means his side now have a max­i­mum points re­turn af­ter two games while Sean Dy­che must be won­der­ing what hap­pened to the de­fen­sive so­lid­ity that took the Clarets into Europe.

Gra­cia has not even seen an away goal since be­com­ing Wat­ford man­ager but he only had to wait three min­utes for his side to nose in front here, An­dre Gray scor­ing against his old club af­ter push­ing the ball out to Troy Deeney on the right and mov­ing up to meet the re­turn with a sweetly struck right-foot vol­ley.

What the vis­i­tors needed to do then was sit on their lead for a lit­tle while and make Burn­ley work to get back into the game, though per­haps through un­fa­mil­iar­ity with such sit­u­a­tions they caved in at the first time of ask­ing from a home cor­net four min­utes later.

Close range

Jo­hann Berg Gud­munds­son swung over a cross, Ben Foster tried to come out and claim but found his route to the ball blocked by Ab­doulaye Doucouré, and it was a sim­ple mat­ter for James Tarkowski to head in from close range.

Af­ter that event­ful open­ing the game set­tled into some­thing more rou­tine once the scores were level.

Burn­ley had slightly the bet­ter of the rest of the first half, Gud­munds­son bring­ing a save from Foster from a free-kick and Jeff Hen­drick be­ing foiled in the act of shoot­ing by Craig Cath­cart.

By the time the in­ter­val ar­rived Wat­ford could con­sider them­selves a lit­tle for­tu­nate to still be level.

Burn­ley pro­duced their best move of the half just as it came to a close, and Hen­drick might have scored with a more de­ter­mined fin­ish rather than the in­stinc­tive flick that al­lowed Foster to save. Still the dan­ger was not cleared and José Hole­bas had to move quickly to stop Aaron Len­non pounc­ing on the loose ball in front of an un­guarded goal, and when Ash­ley West­wood tried to bring mat­ters to a close from the edge of the area his firm drive flew wide.

Wat­ford must have ben glad of that re­prieve, be­cause they started the sec­ond half in ex­actly the same way they had be­gun the first. Doucouré slid a clev­erly dis­guised pass to Deeney af­ter Ben Mee had got in the way of a shot, and pre­sented with the ball and only Joe Hart to beat there was no way the striker was go­ing to miss from three yards out.

This time Wat­ford did not let Burn­ley back in the game but in­creased their lead af­ter an­other three min­utes, though the home side had only them­selves to blame through gift­ing their op­po­nents the op­por­tu­nity through mo­men­tar­ily switch­ing off in de­fence.

From a Burn­ley throw near half­way Matthew Low­ton con­trived to send a sloppy in­field pass straight to Will Hughes, and be­fore Mee and Tarkowski had re­acted to the dan­ger the mid­fielder had caught Hart, too, by sur­prise with a clean strike from the edge of the area.

Ire­land’s Jeff Hen­drick might have scored with a more de­ter­mined fin­ish Un­guarded goal

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