Match ends, Watford 2, Leicester City 1.
Watford 2-1 Leicester: Andre Gray's late goal sinks Leicester in Brendan Rodgers' first game in charge
Troy Deeney insists there will be no Watford "meltdown" this season after the Hornets continued their impressive campaign with a late victory over Leicester in Brendan Rodgers' first game in charge of the Foxes.
Second-half substitute Andre Gray finished coolly past Kasper Schmeichel in injury time to lift the hosts level on points with seventh-placed Wolves.
Deeney had given Watford an early lead, heading Gerard Deulofeu's cross past Schmeichel.
Jamie Vardy appeared to have earned the visitors a point with a low finish from Youri Tielemans' pass, but Gray's goal clinched the win for the Hornets.
Watford won only one of their last nine league fixtures last season and suffered six consecutive defeats at the end of the 2016-17 campaign, but Deeney is confident Javi Gracia's side can maintain their push for a Europa League spot.
"We aren't happy to win just one and lose three," he said. "We want to make sure we finish as high as we can. The media have said after January there will be a Watford meltdown.
"Egos are out of the window, everyone is trying. Look at the depth of the squad - everyone is willing to fight."
Watford stay in eighth place due to their inferior goal difference to Wolves, while Leicester remain 11th following a seventh defeat in 10 league games.
Positives for Rodgers?
After watching Leicester's 2-1 win over Brighton from the stands on Tuesday, Rodgers promised his new charges that there are "special things on the horizon" at the club.
Rodgers shares his predecessor Claude Puel's penchant for promoting young talent, but it is his reputation for attractive, attacking football that has got Foxes fans dreaming of a brighter future.
The travelling supporters had little to shout about in the early stages though, as Watford took the game to their opponents from the outset.
Schmeichel had to be on his toes to deny Adrian Mariappa after just three minutes, before Wes Morgan - named alongside Jonny Evans and Harry Maguire in City's back three - blocked Deulofeu's shot on the follow-up.
Rodgers will be disappointed with his team's defending for Deeney's opener, although replays suggested that Watford's top scorer was marginally offside from Deulofeu's delivery.
The Foxes improved as the game wore on, however, registering 14 attempts compared to Watford's six over the course of the 90 minutes.
Clear-cut opportunities were few and far between though until Vardy sprinted onto Tielemans' excellent through-ball and finished past Foster for his 10th goal of the campaign.
Vardy, 32, has now scored the first Premier League goal under each of Leicester's last four permanent managers - Claudio Ranieri, Craig Shakespeare, Puel and now Rodgers.
Watford grind out win
If the Watford players' confidence was dented by the 5-0 defeat at Liverpool in midweek, they did not show it during an enterprising start to the contest.
Gracia's side could have taken the lead before Deeney's opener, but Mariappa and Deulofeu were denied by Schmeichel and Morgan respectively.
Deeney and Deulofeu were excellent in the 5-1 win at Cardiff a week last Friday, and it was no surprise to see the duo combine for Watford's first goal.
Abdoulaye Doucoure tested Schmeichel's reflexes in the second half with a powerful effort from outside the box, but the Dane had precious little else to do as Leicester's three-man defence of Morgan, Evans and Maguire stood firm.
Gray scored the only goal in Watford's previous home game against Everton, and the 27-year-old was on target for the Hornets once more with a confident finish that sparked wild celebrations among the home supporters.
This could prove to be an important three points for Gracia's side, who face both Manchester clubs away from home in their next two league outings.
Man of the Match - Troy Deeney (Watford)
Hornets register 150th top-flight win - the stats
- Watford have now won three of their last four Premier League games (L1), as many victories as in their previous 15 games (P15 W3 D6 L6).
- Leicester City have now lost three Premier League matches thanks to a 90th-minute goal this season, more than any other side (also v Cardiff and Wolves).
- In what was their 469th top-flight match, Watford's win was their 150thvictory. Indeed, the Hornets last recorded more than their 12 victories this season within a single top-flight campaign back in 1986-87 (18 wins).
- Leicester City have now conceded five Premier League goals inside the opening five minutes of matches this season, the joint-most in the division alongside Burnley.
- Both Troy Deeney and Gerard Deulofeu have scored three of Watford's last seven Premier League goals, with the duo directly combining for three of those strikes (one assist for Deeney, two for Deulofeu).
- Only Sergio Aguero (10) has been directly involved in more Premier League goals in 2019 than Watford striker Troy Deeney (eight - five goals, three assists).
- Watford's Gerard Deulofeu has had a direct hand in 11 league goals this season (six goals, five assists); his highest ever tally in a single campaign within Europe's top five leagues.
- Jamie Vardy has scored the first Premier League goal under each of Leicester's last four permanent managers (Ranieri, Shakespeare, Puel and Rodgers).
- Brendan Rodgers is the first Leicester City manager to lose their first Premier League match in charge of the club since Dave Bassett suffered defeat away at Chelsea back in October 2001.
'I thought our play was excellent' - what the managers said
Watford head coach Javi Gracia: "In the first half we played much better than the second. We created chances to do it. In the second we lost possession and they had some chances. My players played really well and we deserved a good result.
"Andre Gray played some minutes against Everton and has scored important goals. We know he is always ready. I know all my players deserve more time but it is not easy to choose 11. What is more important for me is I know the players I choose are always ready.
"We are enjoying the season. It is an important amount of points for us but I can feel the players want more and more. Who knows what can happen in the future."
Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers: "I thought after going behind so early we regrouped and had some good moments. At half-time we reinforced about some issues around the speed of our game but I thought the play was excellent.
"It looked like only one team would win the game. When we had an opportunity it was a great pass from Youri [Tielemans] and Jamie [Vardy] does what he does. You felt Watford were getting deeper and the opportunities were coming for us.
"We started to get into really good areas and the goal at the end is a case of managing the game. It is something that will get better as we work together. I was pleased with the spirit of the team."
Watford face Manchester City at Etihad Stadium on Saturday, 9 March (17:30 GMT), while Leicester host struggling Fulham on the same day (15:00 GMT).
- 6MariappaBooked at 13mins
- 16DoucouréBooked at 61mins
- 29CapoueBooked at 60mins
- 19HughesSubstituted forCleverleyat 90+1'minutes
- 7DeulofeuSubstituted forGrayat 69'minutesBooked at 90mins
- 9DeeneyBooked at 62mins
- 14Ricardo PereiraBooked at 84mins
- 21TielemansSubstituted forMendyat 82'minutes
- 19BarnesSubstituted forGrayat 66'minutes
- 9VardySubstituted forIheanachoat 83'minutes
- Jonathan Moss
- Shots on Target
Second Half ends, Watford 2, Leicester City 1.
Attempt missed. Wilfred Ndidi (Leicester City) left footed shot from outside the box misses to the right following a corner.
Corner, Leicester City. Conceded by José Holebas.
Andre Gray (Watford) is shown the yellow card for excessive celebration.
Goal! Watford 2, Leicester City 1. Andre Gray (Watford) left footed shot from the centre of the box to the centre of the goal. Assisted by Troy Deeney.
Ricardo Pereira (Leicester City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Roberto Pereyra (Watford).
Substitution, Watford. Tom Cleverley replaces Will Hughes.
Attempt missed. Wes Morgan (Leicester City) header from the centre of the box misses to the right. Assisted by James Maddison with a cross following a corner.
Corner, Leicester City. Conceded by Adrian Mariappa.
Corner, Leicester City. Conceded by Roberto Pereyra.
Delay over. They are ready to continue.
Delay in match José Holebas (Watford) because of an injury.
Foul by Jonny Evans (Leicester City).
Troy Deeney (Watford) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Ricardo Pereira (Leicester City) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Foul by Ricardo Pereira (Leicester City).
Troy Deeney (Watford) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Delay over. They are ready to continue.
Substitution, Leicester City. Kelechi Iheanacho replaces Jamie Vardy because of an injury.
Substitution, Leicester City. Nampalys Mendy replaces Youri Tielemans.
Delay in match Jamie Vardy (Leicester City) because of an injury.
Goal! Watford 1, Leicester City 1. Jamie Vardy (Leicester City) right footed shot from outside the box to the bottom left corner. Assisted by Youri Tielemans with a through ball.
Attempt blocked. James Maddison (Leicester City) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Harry Maguire.
Attempt missed. Demarai Gray (Leicester City) left footed shot from outside the box misses to the right. Assisted by James Maddison.
Substitution, Watford. Andre Gray replaces Gerard Deulofeu.
Substitution, Leicester City. Demarai Gray replaces Harvey Barnes.
Offside, Watford. Ben Foster tries a through ball, but Gerard Deulofeu is caught offside.
Offside, Leicester City. Youri Tielemans tries a through ball, but Ben Chilwell is caught offside.
Troy Deeney (Watford) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Kasper Schmeichel (Leicester City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Troy Deeney (Watford).
Attempt blocked. Harry Maguire (Leicester City) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Wilfred Ndidi.
Abdoulaye Doucouré (Watford) is shown the yellow card.
Etienne Capoue (Watford) is shown the yellow card.
James Maddison (Leicester City) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Etienne Capoue (Watford).
Attempt missed. Harry Maguire (Leicester City) right footed shot from the right side of the box is high and wide to the right. Assisted by Ben Chilwell with a cross following a set piece situation.
Ben Chilwell (Leicester City) wins a free kick on the left wing.