Roy Hodgson rued Crystal Palace’s missed opportunities after Watford fought from behind to secure victory. Craig Cathcart scored at both ends, before Tom Cleverley sealed all three points for the visitors with a fine volley six minutes after coming on as a substitute.
The win moved Watford back above West Ham in the table, while Palace will be looking over their shoulder once more despite heading into the fixture hoping for a third consecutive win.
“Of course it hurts,” said Hodgson. “It is tough to lose any game, tough to lose at home, and it is even tougher because we have done well lately. I hoped this would provide the chance to get that elusive third consecutive victory to lift us to a more comfortable place in the table, and I am feeling very sad that we couldn’t do it. But if you want to win games, you need to take the chances that come your way.”
Cathcart’s own goal, following a goalmouth scramble, gave Palace the lead heading into the interval, and the hosts had chances to put the game to bed.
Wilfried Zaha, who now has not scored or laid on an assist in 13 matches, was probably the most culpable after he hit Ben Foster’s out-stretched leg with one effort, and then blazed another high and wide after neat footwork in the box early on in the second half.
Palace’s scoring troubles are well documented, with six goals to their name at home this season and only four from open play.
“We started the second half brightly and we had the opportunities to increase our lead, which would have made life very difficult for Watford, but we were not as effective as them,” Hodgson said.
Watford stemmed Palace’s speedy second-half start and were back on level terms after 67 minutes, when Cathcart made amends for putting through his own net by leaping above James Tomkins and heading home Jose Holebas’s corner.
Cleverley was then introduced and within six minutes he had turned the game on its head with his stunning volley. The former Manchester United and Everton midfielder has recently returned from a near year-long injury lay-off. His appearance here was his fourth in the Premier League this season.
Watford have now won 16 points away from Vicarage Road, which is a greater haul than they managed on the road last season .
“I am proud of all my players, not only for today but other games where we have competed well, with good and bad results, but always kept a good level,” said Javi Gracia, the Watford manager.
“After the own goal it was more difficult for us, but in that moment the team showed character, ambition. Tom scored an amazing goal, and to be able to turn the result around was important.”