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  • Alessandro Schiavone

Watford boost their survival hopes with stunning 2-1 win at Southampton as Cucho Hernandez shines

Colombian ace Cucho Hernandez bagged his first Watford brace to help the relegation-threatened Hornets to a remarkable 2-1 win at Southampton on Sunday afternoon.

Second-from bottom-Watford, who had lost all four of their Premier League fixtures on a Sunday this campaign, hung on to the lead despite shipping a demoralising goal on the stroke of half-time, with Mohamed Elyounoussi halfing the deficit with a close-range finish.

The Hornets were indebted to midweek Molineux flop Ben Foster for pulling off a string of superb saves as they climb above Burnley and pull level on points with Everton, who occupy the last safety spot but have three games in hand on the Vicarage Road outfit.

It was the resolutely structured Hornets’ first Premier League victory over Southampton in the last seven outings, having suffered three consecutive defeats against the Saints.

Watford, who have now taken eight points on their travels under Roy Hodgson and none at home, can look at the future with less pessimism and if both Leeds and Everton can’t arrest their respective slides, safety is not as unlikely as it looked prior to today’s kick-off.

The Hornets pounced on a calamitous mix-up from the Saints’ rearguard to take the lead on 14 minutes.

Hernandez intercepted Mohammed Salisu’s backpass for Fraster Forster before rounding the goalkeeper and rolling the ball into the empty net.

The Ghanaian centre-back looked off the pace and not fit for purpose on a terrible afternoon, with his lacklustre performance costing Ralph Hasenhuttl’s men.

Minutes earlier, Brazilian defender Samir rescued his side with a vital clearance from Elyounoussi’s header before Jan Bednarek did equally well to block Joao Pedro’s net-bound effort after the error-prone Salisu cleared straight to his feet.

Foster then repelled ex-Tottenham Hotspur academy graduate Kyle Walker-Peters’s attempt at the near post before Salisu’s day went from bad to worse as he sent a poor header over from Walker-Peters’ free kick.

Watford, who look a different proposition away from home and may wish to play every game as far away as possible from Vicarage Road, doubled their lead.

Hernandez connected well with Juraj Kucka’s well-worked inswinging cross from the left to find the bottom corner with a composed volleyed finish.

It was then Foster’s turn to keep out Walker-Peters’ angled effort at his near post before his opposite number Forster rushed off his line to repel Kucka at the other end.

Southampton's Romain Perraud then had a crack at goal but his swirling effort went just over. And just when Watford thought they were going to take two unanswered goals into half-time, Norwegian Elyounoussi reduced the arrears with a tap-in.

But if anyone expected Watford to crumble in the second period, they defended every more astutely and resiliently.

Salisu sent another header over as Christian Kabasele, who was handed a rare start, came out on top against Armando Broja. The Belgian first beat the Chelsea loanee to a long ball into space, then dispossessed him just when he was about to get his shot away in the six-yard box on 67 minutes.

Three minutes later, the Hornets had a rare second half chance to kill off the came but Forster did well to keep out Kucka’s curling effort which would have found the top corner.

Hernandez then came close to a hat-trick but blazed his shot over from Emmanuel Dennis’ cutback as Watford were desperate to put the game to bed.

Minutes later, Dennis dragged another effort wide before Ward-Prowse’s free kick hit the top of the net.

Foster then ensured that Watford would take all three points to Hertfordshire so as to keep their survival hopes on track, as he tipped a classic header over the crossbar from Nathan Redmond’s cross.


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