Silva hails ‘amaz­ing’ Richarli­son as late strike res­cues Wat­ford

The Sunday Telegraph - Sport - - Sport | Premier League - By John Percy

Richarli­son is es­tab­lish­ing a rep­u­ta­tion for high drama, the superhero of stop­page-time for Wat­ford. This was an­other cru­cial con­tri­bu­tion from the Brazil­ian for the sec­ond suc­ces­sive game, with his equaliser at the death earn­ing Wat­ford a de­served point.

Signed for £11.5 mil­lion from Flu­mi­nense in Au­gust, he de­liv­ered the late win­ner at Swansea City last week­end and popped up again here to fi­nally break West Bromwich Al­bion’s stub­born re­sis­tance five min­utes into in­jury-time. Wat­ford have al­ready beaten Bournemouth, Southamp­ton and Swansea on the road this season and this de­ter­mined, pos­i­tive per­for­mance hints at a bright fu­ture un­der shrewd head coach Marco Silva.

“I be­lieve no­body in the sta­dium or watch­ing it would say we didn’t de­serve the point. We were 2-0 down but I told our play­ers at half-time if you con­tinue the same way we’ll achieve a good re­sult,” said Silva. “Richarli­son is an amaz­ing ta­lent. I told my board I want this player be­cause I be­lieve in him. We never know how he’ll re­act com­ing from Brazil. Brazil­ian play­ers can have prob­lems in an­other country, but he’s been re­ally good.”

Richarli­son’s equaliser en­sured an­other frus­trat­ing af­ter­noon for Tony Pulis, who now has only three vic­to­ries from the last 19 Pre­mier League games.

They had seemed on course for three points after two goals in three min­utes. Salomon Ron­don squeezed in the first after 18 min­utes, his first goal at the Hawthorns since Dec 14. Al­bion in­creased their lead when Matt Phillips’s cor­ner came off the head of Wat­ford’s Ab­doulaye Doucoure and, with Heurelho Gomes stranded, Jonny Evans could not miss from close range.

But Wat­ford im­proved and Doucoure pro­duced a re­sponse be­fore half­time, ad­vanc­ing to­wards the area and cap­i­tal­is­ing on hes­i­tancy from Evans to find the cor­ner from 18 yards. Game on.

Wat­ford were dom­i­nant in the sec­ond half, cre­at­ing prob­lems for a West Brom de­fence that ap­peared to have lost all sense of con­trol. Much of the sec­ond half was played as though it was the final five min­utes, all des­per­ate blocks and hacked clear­ances.

Eti­enne Capoue’s de­flected shot al­most found the bot­tom cor­ner, while Richarli­son headed wide as Wat­ford mounted wave after wave of at­tacks.

Al­bion seemed to have sur­vived the pres­sure and were fi­nally sparked into life in the final 20 min­utes, with James McClean, a sub­sti­tute, test­ing Gomes after a swift counter-at­tack.

But Richarli­son had the last word again, nod­ding in Jose Hole­bas’s free­kick at the far post.

Pulis re­served much of his frus­tra­tion for ref­eree Michael Oliver, point­ing to the free-kick that was awarded after what ap­peared a fair chal­lenge from McClean on Richarli­son.

“He plays the ball and he’s nowhere near the player, that’s two games in a row where a de­ci­sion that has gone against us has cost us,” he said. “In both halves he played a minute over as well. They actually scored in the 95th minute. Lit­tle things like that are just going against us, which is dis­ap­point­ing.”

On tar­get again: Richarli­son fol­lowed his late win­ner at Swansea with the equaliser yes­ter­day

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