Leicester 1-2 Watford

Watford's Nathaniel Chalobah

Watford maintained their slim hopes of snatching the Championship's second automatic promotion spot with a nervy win at play-off hopefuls Leicester.

Troy Deeney swept in Joel Ekstrand's knockdown before Nathaniel Chalobah rifled in a stunning 35-yard strike to put third-placed Watford in command.

Leicester hit back through Harry Kane's header but could not find an equaliser.

Watford are one point behind second-placed Hull, who can secure promotion with a win at Barnsley on Saturday.

Defeat means seventh-placed Leicester know their play-off ambitions could be ended on Saturday if top-six rivals Crystal Palace and Bolton win their respective matches.

Fifth-placed Palace visit Blackburn, while Bolton travel to Championship title winners Cardiff, and victory for each team will leave the Foxes four points adrift of the play-off spots heading into the final day of the season.

Gianfranco Zola's men are praying they will go into their final game - at home to Leeds on 4 May - with something still riding on its outcome.

Now they are relying on relegation-threatened Barnsley to do them a favour against Hull after doing their own job at Leicester.

Leicester City manager Nigel Pearson
Leicester travel to East Midlands rivals Nottingham Forest on the final day of the season

Nigel Pearson's team knew nothing other than a win at a noisy King Power Stadium would suffice but they were undone by Watford in a devastating two-minute spell shortly before half-time.

The home side dominated possession for long periods of the first half without being able to stretch Hornets goalkeeper Manuel Almunia - and they were punished after poor organisation at a Watford corner.

An unmarked Ekstrand was allowed space to head down Almen Abdi's inswinging corner for Deeney to pounce for his 19th goal of the season.

While suspect defending contributed to Watford's opener, Foxes boss Pearson could not blame his players for Chalobah's sensational second.

The England Under-21 midfielder, on loan from Chelsea, latched on to a loose ball before unleashing a long-range shot which flew past Kasper Schmeichel.

Leicester were left shocked by the double, but managed to regain their composure after the break.

Substitute Kane halved the deficit after beating the Watford offside trap to nod in Paul Konchesky's deflected cross and also stung the palms of Almunia with another fierce shot moments later.

The home fans were lifted and had a strong penalty appeal turned down when Chris Wood was sent tumbling by Jonathan Hogg.

Referee Craig Pawson allowed play to continue as the New Zealand striker appealed and the ball fell to Ben Marshall, who was denied by a smart stop by Almunia.

Leicester refused to give up, but could not find an equaliser which would have boosted their slim play-off hopes.

Leicester manager Nigel Pearson:

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Players gave their all - Pearson

"The two goals, at the time that they came, knocked us for six. It affected the players visibly and we could have conceded another one before half-time as well.

"We had a go in the second half and it's just not happened for us again. We had to make a fist of it in the second half and I think we did.

"The players worked hard to try and get back into it but it just didn't happen for us. I couldn't have asked for much more from them.

"But it wasn't enough and unfortunately that's been the story too often this season."

Watford manager Gianfranco Zola:

"I think it will go down to the final day, I hope so. In this league nothing is certain - it has been that way all season.

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We don't make things easy - Zola

"Any team can beat any team - as we have seen. I'm sure it will go right down until the end and it will be exciting.

"I will keep an eye (on the Hull game) but I will also try to relax.

"We have done what we needed to do and now we have to hope that a good result will come from somewhere else."

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