Flores re­lief as Wat­ford ‘spirit’ earns first win

The Daily Telegraph - Sport - - Football - By Arindam Rej at Car­row Road

Quique Sanchez Flores could breathe a much-needed sigh of re­lief af­ter his Wat­ford team fi­nally ended their wait for a Premier League win and sent Nor­wich crash­ing to the bot­tom of the ta­ble.

A painful run of 11 league games with­out vic­tory this sea­son meant that the vis­i­tors ar­rived here un­der im­mense pres­sure, but it took just 76 sec­onds for a solo effort from Ger­ard Deulofeu to ease the strain – and then an eye-catch­ing back­heel from An­dre Gray se­cured a pre­cious suc­cess.

Wat­ford went down to 10 men for the fi­nal quar­ter of the game, as

Chris­tian Kabasele was dis­missed for a petu­lant, sec­ond yel­low card, but they were al­ready 2-0 up and had enough to re­sist the trou­bled home side.

Daniel Farke, the Nor­wich man­ager, was scathing of his side, say­ing this was like foot­ball on the beach from them at times, blighted by “nurs­ery, naive mis­takes”.

Sloppy de­fend­ing led to both goals, par­tic­u­larly when Emi Buen­dia lost pos­ses­sion to al­low the in­flu­en­tial Deulofeu to strike.

Flores, in con­trast, could en­joy hugs with his play­ers at full-time. The Spa­niard’s team had ar­rived in bot­tom place, but moved a point clear of Nor­wich and above Southamp­ton on goal dif­fer­ence.

The Wat­ford head coach said: “We knew this was a sig­nif­i­cant match and it looked like a fi­nal. We needed to give our en­ergy, spirit and put our souls on the pitch.

“I know how you can feel un­der this pres­sure – ner­vous, like ev­ery­thing is rush­ing. It’s not easy. It’s not nice. It was nec­es­sary to change this neg­a­tive at­mos­phere.

“If you don’t win in sport, it’s dif­fi­cult to be­lieve. I hope this re­sult can make them re­alise they are much bet­ter than their re­sults.”

Nor­wich were the ones who looked un­der the strain in a hor­rific start. Af­ter Buen­dia’s blun­der, Deulofeu ran for­ward at a pan­ick­ing home de­fence, cruis­ing into the penalty area and strik­ing coolly.

Farke’s team are yet to keep a home clean sheet this sea­son and Wat­ford, the league’s low­est scor­ers, ex­posed them. Nor­wich even­tu­ally man­aged to en­joy spells of pos­ses­sion, but Wat­ford hurt them on the counter-at­tack in an end-to-end first half.

The vis­i­tors made a pos­i­tive start to the sec­ond pe­riod and Deulofeu was heav­ily in­volved as they scored again. He crossed for Gray who, with his back to goal, flicked in.

There was a de­flec­tion off Ja­mal Lewis, but the moment should have felt sweet for the goalscorer af­ter his chal­leng­ing start to the sea­son.

Ben Foster per­formed hero­ics in the Wat­ford goal, leap­ing to his left to keep out a 25-yard strike from Lewis. Kabasele’s red card did not help the vis­i­tors’ cause, though, as he barged into Josip Dr­mic, hav­ing pre­vi­ously been booked for a foul on Onel Her­nan­dez.

Foster needed to make an­other save, keep­ing out Kenny Mclean’s effort, but the home side did not of­fer enough threat.

Nor­wich’s win over Manchester City in mid-septem­ber has been fol­lowed by seven games in which they have scored only twice and col­lected just one point. Tal­is­man Teemu Pukki has not scored dur­ing that run. Wat­ford, in con­trast, put be­hind them their lack of a clin­i­cal edge from ear­lier in the sea­son.

Farke said: “It’s a pretty an­noy­ing and frus­trat­ing evening. We dom­i­nated pos­ses­sion, had nearly 20 shots but, if you pro­duce naive, nurs­ery mis­takes in front of goal, it’s dif­fi­cult at this level to win. It’s dif­fi­cult even to win games on the beach when you play like that.”

Nor­wich City (4-2-3-1) Krul 6; Aarons 6, Tettey 5, God­frey 5, Lewis 5 (Vran­cic 81); Try­bull 6, Mclean 6; Buen­dia 6 (Cantwell 62), Stieper­mann 6 (Dr­mic 62), Her­nan­dez 7; Pukki 6. Subs Fahrmann (g), Byram, Amadou, Sr­beny. Booked Vran­cic.

Wat­ford (5-3-2) Foster 7; Jan­maat 7, Kabasele 4, Daw­son 6, Cath­cart 6, Hole­bas 6 (Masina 88); Doucoure 7, Capoue 7, Hughes 7; Deulofeu 7 (Mari­appa 70), Pereyra 7 (Gray 31). Subs Gomes (g), Deeney, Chalobah, Fe­me­nia. Booked Kabasele, Hughes, Masina. Sent off Kabasele (65).

Ref­eree An­dre Mar­riner (West Mid­lands).

Cute fin­ish: An­dre Gray scores Wat­ford’s sec­ond goal with a close-range back-heel

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