Heurelho Gomes was beaten by two spot-kicks as FA Cup semi-finalists Watford suffered a 3-1 Premier League defeat to West Ham at Upton Park.
Gomes saved two penalties from West Brom’s Saido Berahino on Saturday, but was unable to keep out Mark Noble’s two efforts from 12 yards, which came after Andy Carroll’s sixth goal in five league games to make it 15 top-flight home matches unbeaten for West Ham.
Quique Sanchez Flores’ men face Crystal Palace at Wembley this weekend and the Spaniard made seven changes on Wednesday, with the hosts taking full advantage to keep alive their top-four hopes.
Carroll’s 11th-minute volley set the tone, with Noble’s first coming just before the break. The midfielder doubled his tally eight minutes into a second half that saw Sebastian Prodl score an excellent consolation goal, Troy Deeney miss a late penalty and Nordin Amrabat receive an injury-time red card.
The result helped to assuage some of the pain of West Ham’s last outing on home soil, when their own FA Cup dream was ended by Manchester United, moving them four points shy of fourth-placed Arsenal.
It also snapped a run of five consecutive league draws for the hosts, who were held by leaders Leicester City last time out following the controversial award of a last-gasp penalty.
For Watford, finishing in the top half remains a realistic prospect, despite a run of just one win in eight league games.
Dimitri Payet’s set-piece delivery gave Gomes a bit of early work to do, but his next task was to pick the ball out of the net.
It was Payet who cut in off the left and swung in a ball for the in-form Carroll to steer a measured first-time finish beyond Gomes, who might have been quicker off his line.
Jose Manuel Jurado sought a swift response and forced Adrian into his first save of the match in the 17th minute, the Hammers goalkeeper parrying his compatriot’s stinging strike.
The irrepressible Payet then curled a dangerous effort narrowly over the crossbar and Diafra Sakho’s low drive brought a smart stop from Gomes as the hosts continued to enjoy the better of the contest.
A second goal arrived on the stroke of half-time when Cheikhou Kouyate was fouled by the out-of-sorts Jose Holebas and Noble did what Berahino could not by beating Gomes from the spot.
Manuel Lanzini had a glorious opportunity to add another just a minute later, but skewed his shot wide from inside the box, while Sakho was similarly wasteful a matter of seconds into the second half.
Almen Abdi endured a dreadful 60 seconds as first he diverted Jurado’s teasing cross over the target and then he fouled Michail Antonio in the area, allowing Noble to convert the penalty straight down the middle.
Prodl’s stunning half-volleyed finish did give the visiting fans some cause for celebration in the 64th minute, but hopes of a dramatic revival ahead of Watford’s first FA Cup semi-final since 2007 were scuppered when Adrian brilliantly kept out substitute Deeney’s penalty, with Amrabat getting a second yellow soon after.
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