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Watford 2-1 Newcastle: Hornets boss Nigel Pearson insists Watford are not safe yet

By Phil McNultyChief football writer
Troy Deeney scores his second penalty against Newcastle
Deeney's goals against Newcastle were his first since the Premier League restarted and he now has eight in total this season

Watford boss Nigel Pearson insists "our job is not finished yet" despite seeing his side move six points clear of the bottom three with a win over Newcastle.

Troy Deeney scored two second-half penalties as the Hornets came from behind once more to beat the Magpies and open up vital breathing space as they battle to avoid relegation from the Premier League.

Asked afterwards if he felt safe, Pearson told BBC Match of the Day: "Anything can happen. We have to keep our focus now, and it is not about thinking the job is done - we have got three more games to make sure we win enough points ourselves.

"What happens elsewhere can help, but if you are reliant on that you are in for a bit of a shock, so our focus has to be there."

Newcastle were the better side in the first half at Vicarage Road and deserved the lead given to them when Dwight Gayle turned in Federico Fernandez's flick from Matt Ritchie's corner in the 23rd minute.

Watford, who hit the post through Danny Welbeck, were indebted to a vital save by Ben Foster from Allan Saint-Maximim before the break - leaving them in position to mount another recovery in the second half.

They were handed a lifeline after 52 minutes when Deeney drilled home a spot-kick following Ritchie's foul on Kiko Femenia, and he repeated his heroics nine minutes from time after Javier Manquillo hauled down Ismaila Sarr in the box.

It gave Watford a priceless three points as they showed the same powers of recovery that saw them overturn a 1-0 deficit to beat doomed Norwich City in their previous home game - and crucially leaves them six points clear of Bournemouth in the bottom three, although the Cherries have played a game less.

Watford were bottom, seven points adrift of safety after 16 games, when Pearson took charge for the first time on 14 December, but he says positive thinking has been behind their climb up the table.

Pearson explained: "We are always working hard to try to find the solutions to the situation we find ourselves in.

"Back in December it didn't look possible and we have had some decent runs and difficult times but throughout it all you have got to remain with a balanced view.

"We know we've got good players and really important match-winners but this win was about us being able to respond to disappointment and still being able to function. That is not easy, especially with there being no fans, but it has been a reasonable week for us so far."

Deeney holds his nerve to inspire Watford

Watford needed a big performance to rescue a mediocre first 45 minutes that left them facing defeat against visitors who had looked sharper and more urgent.

Cometh the hour cometh Watford's talisman, though, as captain Deeney put a barren sequence of only one league goal in his previous 10 games behind him to make the contribution that could yet keep the Hornets in the top flight.

The goals may have come from the penalty spot but the 32-year-old showed commendable nerve on both occasions, using his tried and trusted technique of sheer power to beat Newcastle keeper Martin Dubravka for the first spot-kick then winning a battle of wits to deliver in similar style late on when the pressure was at its peak.

It was just what Watford required to build on the home win against Norwich City, ensuring momentum was maintained and increasing the peril for the likes of Bournemouth and Aston Villa with Norwich City now relegated.

Manager Nigel Pearson has been involved in great escapes before, as an assistant at West Bromwich Albion and in charge at Leicester City - and this result goes a long way towards helping him preserve that record.

Newcastle run out of steam

Dwight Gayle scores for Newcastle
Gayle had not scored in the Premier League this season before football's shutdown in March, but he now has three goals in his last six appearances

Newcastle manager Steve Bruce would have been confident his side would make amends for the embarrassment of their 5-0 thrashing at Manchester City after a confident and impressive first half.

Sadly for Bruce and Newcastle, it was all downhill once referee Craig Pawson penalised Ritchie when his knee made contact with Femenia in the area just after half-time.

Watford gained the upper hand and did not let go as Newcastle faded badly, their fate sealed by Manquillo's unwise decision to tangle with Sarr as the Watford forward raced into the danger zone late on.

Given all the pre-season pessimism, and the lukewarm reception he received after succeeding the popular Rafael Benitez on Tyneside, Bruce has done a highly respectable job in consolidating Newcastle, especially with takeover talk a constant sub-plot to his work these days.

Now he must ensure Newcastle's season does not fizzle out too much at the finale.

Man of the match - Troy Deeney (Watford)

Troy Deeney celebrates after scoring his second penalty against Newcastle
Deeney converted both penalties in convincing fashion and afterwards his manager Nigel Pearson said: "Troy is someone who maybe enjoys and certainly embraces pressure and is not someone who shirks responsibility. He is our penalty taker and it is always a positive when your captain is able to absorb some pressure for the other players. He also had some other chances, which he is disappointed with, but I am pleased for him today, for sure."

What next? West Ham await Watford

Newcastle play Tottenham at home on Wednesday (18:00 BST) while Watford's next test is a trip to fellow strugglers West Ham on Friday (20:00 BST).

Line-ups

Watford

Formation 4-2-3-1

  • 26Foster
  • 21Femenía
  • 27Kabasele
  • 4Dawson
  • 11Masina
  • 29Capoue
  • 19HughesBooked at 90mins
  • 23Sarr
  • 16Doucouré
  • 10WelbeckSubstituted forGrayat 90+2'minutes
  • 9DeeneySubstituted forCleverleyat 85'minutes

Substitutes

  • 1Gomes
  • 6Mariappa
  • 8Cleverley
  • 14Chalobah
  • 15Cathcart
  • 17João Pedro
  • 18Gray
  • 33Pussetto
  • 37Pereyra

Newcastle

Formation 4-4-1-1

  • 1Dubravka
  • 19ManquilloBooked at 63mins
  • 6LascellesBooked at 45minsSubstituted forLazaroat 87'minutes
  • 18FernándezBooked at 77mins
  • 28RoseSubstituted forKrafthat 79'minutes
  • 10Saint-Maximin
  • 5SchärBooked at 84mins
  • 8Shelvey
  • 11RitchieSubstituted forJoelintonat 72'minutes
  • 24Almirón
  • 12GayleSubstituted forBentalebat 78'minutes

Substitutes

  • 9Joelinton
  • 13Muto
  • 17Krafth
  • 22Yedlin
  • 23Lazaro
  • 26Darlow
  • 30Atsu
  • 42Bentaleb
  • 43M Longstaff
Referee:
Craig Pawson

Match Stats

Home TeamWatfordAway TeamNewcastle
Possession
Home48%
Away52%
Shots
Home17
Away8
Shots on Target
Home5
Away4
Corners
Home2
Away4
Fouls
Home23
Away15

Live Text

  1. Post update

    Match ends, Watford 2, Newcastle United 1.

  2. Full Time

    Second Half ends, Watford 2, Newcastle United 1.

  3. Post update

    Fabian Schär (Newcastle United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  4. Post update

    Foul by Andre Gray (Watford).

  5. Post update

    Allan Saint-Maximin (Newcastle United) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

  6. Post update

    Foul by Christian Kabasele (Watford).

  7. Substitution

    Substitution, Watford. Andre Gray replaces Danny Welbeck.

  8. Post update

    Foul by Fabian Schär (Newcastle United).

  9. Post update

    Craig Dawson (Watford) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  10. Booking

    Will Hughes (Watford) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

  11. Post update

    Joelinton (Newcastle United) wins a free kick on the right wing.

  12. Post update

    Foul by Will Hughes (Watford).

  13. Post update

    Joelinton (Newcastle United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  14. Post update

    Foul by Abdoulaye Doucouré (Watford).

  15. Post update

    Attempt missed. Emil Krafth (Newcastle United) header from outside the box misses to the right. Assisted by Allan Saint-Maximin.

  16. Substitution

    Substitution, Newcastle United. Valentino Lazaro replaces Jamaal Lascelles.

  17. Post update

    Fabian Schär (Newcastle United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  18. Post update

    Foul by Adam Masina (Watford).

  19. Substitution

    Substitution, Watford. Tom Cleverley replaces Troy Deeney.

  20. Booking

    Fabian Schär (Newcastle United) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

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