Molla Wague and Abdoulaye Doucoure inspired Watford’s turnaround as the Hornets came from behind to defeat Leicester City 2-1 in the Premier League on Tuesday.
Leicester had fought back valiantly for a last-gasp 2-2 draw with Manchester United on Saturday and their impressive improvement under Claude Puel looked set to continue when Riyad Mahrez headed home midway through the first period to score for the third straight game at Vicarage Road.
But Mali defender Wague, who spent the second half of last season on loan with the Foxes, marked his first Premier League start with the equaliser on the stroke of half-time in an entertaining Boxing Day clash.
Doucoure then did brilliantly to force the winner, stretching to keep Tom Cleverley’s deep free-kick in play close to the byline and finding himself handsomely rewarded as Kasper Schmeichel deflected the ball over the line.
Victory was Watford’s first in seven matches and leaves them 10th, two points and two places behind their opponents, who suffered only a second league defeat in eight.
FULL-TIME Watford 2-1 Leicester
— Premier League (@premierleague) 26 December 2017
The opening 15 minutes were physical and produced three bookings before Leicester carved out the first chance as Shinji Okazaki’s header was tipped over by Heurelho Gomes.
Jamie Vardy, who netted his 50th Premier League goal in Saturday’s dramatic draw with United, ought to have given Leicester the lead in the 26th minute but, after being put clean through by Marc Albrighton, he sent his effort over Gomes and wide.
The Foxes were not left to rue that miss for long, however, as Albrighton held off Daryl Janmaat down the left and drifted in a cross that was headed back across goal and in by Mahrez.
Watford should have produced an equaliser within three minutes as Andre Carrillo slipped in Richarlison, only for the Brazilian to round Schmeichel and fire into the side-netting.
Like their opponents, Watford were quick to overcome the disappointment of a big miss as, right on the stroke of half-time, Wague converted from close range after Richarlison’s acrobatic effort from a corner rebounded kindly to him.
13 – Molla Wagué’s goal means Watford have now had more different goalscorers in the Premier League than any other side this season. Spread.
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) 26 December 2017
And the Hornets almost took a lead into the interval as Richarlison’s firm strike from a tight angle crashed off the near upright.
Marco Silva’s side did forge ahead with 25 minutes to play thanks to a goal owing much to Doucoure’s persistence and Schmeichel’s fumble.
With eight minutes to play Ben Chilwell’s mistake let in Cleverley, who wasted the chance to put the game to bed by firing narrowly wide of the left-hand post.
Leicester threw everything forward in a bid to snatch a point and only two stunning Gomes saves – throwing himself at the feet of Wes Morgan before getting down to keep out Leonardo Ulloa’s header from the resulting corner – preserved Watford’s win.
KEY OPTA STATS
– Leicester have lost two of their last three in the Premier League, the same total they’d lost in the previous 13.
– Molla Wague scored his first league goal in Europe’s big five divisions since netting for Udinese against Fiorentina in March 2015.
– Leicester have only won one of their 12 Premier League games played on Boxing Day (D2 L9), losing each of the last four in a row.
– Watford scored twice despite landing just one shot on target.
– Marc Albrighton has assisted in consecutive Premier League appearances for the first time since April.
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