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  • By Alessandro Schiavone at Groupama Stadium, Lyon

Crystal Palace thrash Watford 4-1 as Zaha runs the show


Watford 1 Crystal Palace 4


Crystal Palace broke their league duck for 2022 under the floodlights at Vicarage Road with a convincing 4-1 rout of Watford, leaving the Hornets staring down the barrel of consecutive relegations from the Premier League.


Watford, managed by ex-Palace manager Roy Hodgson, failed to build on their unlikely 1-0 win at Aston Villa. And with a trip to Manchester United on the agenda on Saturday, they could find themselves seven points off safety with 13 games to go if both Newcastle and Everton get maximum points at the weekend.


A very daunting run of fixtures with games against Manchester United, Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester City, Leicester and Chelsea are still to come in the season run-in and Hodgson's flops are fighting for their future in this division.


Jean-Philippe Mateta broke Watford’s resistance with a deflected shot on the turn that wrong-footed goalkeeper Ben Foster 15 minutes into the game.


But the Eagles’ lead was short-lived and less than three minutes later Moussa Sissoko rose unchallenged from a corner to plant a bullet header into the roof of the net.


Crystal Palace defended resolutely and Zaha sealed the three points with a double at the death to end his side’s six-game winless streak.


Patrick Vieira’s Eagles were up and running after only 15 minutes. Connor Gallagher whipped a dangerous cross into the area, and with Spaniard Kiko Femenia only managing to stick his boot out and failing to clear his lines, the ball dropped kindly for Mateta to put Crystal Palace 1-0 up.


Sissoko erased his opener 180 seconds later when he got on the end of a corner with a perfectly timed thumping header. The visitors’ failed to pick him up and didn’t cover themselves in glory on that occasion


And the French midfielder almost set up one himself but Emmanuel Dennis headed over.


With seven minutes to go until the interval, the lively Michael Oliseh, teed up by Zaha, nearly caught Ben Foster out on his near post but the ex-West Bromwich goalkeeper saved with his outstretched boot.


On 42 minutes, Gallagher, with time and space, found the bottom corner with a sumptuous finish, leaving Foster rooted to his spot. The Chelsea loanee controlled Tyrick Mitchell’s cross with his right and took the whole Watford backline out of the equation with a brilliant first touch before picking out the top corner.


Watford were showing more urgency in their play at the start of the second half and also more industry and creativity going forward.


Stalwart Craig Cathcart flicked on Imran Louza’s cross but Dennis could not convert.


And the ex-Club Bruges star did not do much better when he scuffed a half-volley over the crossbar from around nine yards out.


Zaha, who hadn’t impacted the game much up until that point, then ran riot scoring twice in the space of five minutes to seal the deal.


He first fired home from close range following Andre Ayew’s cross from the right before finding the far corner with a curled finish after cutting inside two Hornets defenders on 85 minutes.



WATFORD 1- 4 CRYSTAL PALACE


Watford


1 Ben Foster- 6 Imran Louza- 7 Joshua King- 8 Tom Cleverley-14 Hassane Kamara- 15 Craig Cathcart- 19 Moussa Sissoko- 21 Kiko Femenio- 22 Samir- 23 Ismaila Sarr- Emmanuel Dennis


Crystal Palace


1 Jack Butland- 3 Tyrick Mitchell- 6 Marc Guehi- 7 Michael Olise- 8 Cheikhou Kouyate- 11 Wilfried Zaha- 12 Will Hughes- 14 Jean-Philippe Mateta- 16 Joachim Andersen- 17 Nathaniel Clyne- 23 Conor Gallagher

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