Sam Allardyce was left frustrated on his Crystal Palace debut as Troy Deeney’s second-half penalty earned Watford a 1-1 draw at Vicarage Road on Monday.
Palace parted ways with Alan Pardew last week after a poor run of form left the Eagles just a point above the relegation zone.
Allardyce was consequently confirmed as his replacement marking a return to management following his dismissal as England boss after just 67 days after he was caught on camera reportedly claiming to give advice on how to circumvent third-party ownership rules as part of an undercover newspaper sting.
His return to the dugout started well with Palace rewarded for a lively opening when Yohan Cabaye opened the scoring following good work from Andros Townsend.
However, the smile was wiped off Allardyce’s face when Christian Benteke wasted the chance to make it 2-0 from the penalty spot with a tame effort that was easily saved by Heurelho Gomes.
And Palace ultimately paid the penalty for that miss when Deeney converted a spot-kick of his own for his 100th Watford goal in the second half.
Allardyce will take plenty of positives from the performance, but Palace remain in a perilous position, while Watford, at least for now, move 10th.
Watford lost Daryl Janmaat and Valon Behrami to injury inside 15 minutes and Cabaye almost inflicted more misery when he drilled wide from 20 yards.
But the Frenchman was on target in the 26th minute. Andros Townsend shook off his marker and slipped in a sublime througball to Cabaye, who brilliantly slotted past Gomes into the bottom-left corner.
2 – Yohan Cabaye has scored in both of his Premier League appearances at Vicarage Road. Haunt.
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 26, 2016
Palace had a gilt-edged chance to double the lead when Benteke was clattered in the area by Gomes after a poor backpass from Sebastian Prodl, leaving referee Mark Clattenburg little alternative but to award the penalty.
Benteke took the responsibility himself, but his effort was weak and Gomes – making his 100th league appearance for the Hornets – made amends with a simple save low to his left.
Watford had offered little in the first half, but made an encouraging start after the break and Odion Ighalo almost levelled the scoring when he aimed just wide from a narrow angle after running on to a long ball.
Walter Mazzarri’s men continued to push for an equaliser and were rewarded a spot-kick of their own when Damien Delaney tugged Prodl to ground at a corner.
Deeney assumed responsibility from 12 yards and smashed his effort down the middle to celebrate his landmark strike almost three months after his last Premier League goal on October 1.
Adlene Guedioura tested Palace goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey late on with a powerful long-range strike after a sublime piece of skill as Watford went in search of the win, but the Welshman was not overly worried by the midfielder’s attempt and the match ended all square.
Key Opta stats:
– Sam Allardyce has failed to win his first Premier League game in charge with either of his last two clubs (also Sunderland), after winning each of the previous four (Bolton, Newcastle, Blackburn and West Ham).
– Troy Deeney became the fifth player to score 100 goals in all competitions for Watford after Luther Blissett, Tommy Barnett, Ross Jenkins and Cliff Holton.
– Deeney is now Watford’s all-time leading scorer in Premier League history (17 goals); one ahead of Odion Ighalo (16).
– Of all Premier League goalkeepers to face 20+ penalties, only David Seaman (32 per cent) has a better save ratio than Heurelho Gomes (30 per cent – saved 9/30).
– Christian Benteke has missed more penalties this season than any other Premier League player (2).
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