Watford 0-1 Crystal Palace: Zaha haunts Watford again as Palace go 6th

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Watford fans remember Wilfried Zaha well. The Crystal Palace winger won the decisive penalty in the Championship playoff final three years ago at Wembley, which Kevin Phillips bagged to send the Eagles into the Premier League.

This time, with the teams meeting at Vicarage Road, Zaha did it again, and Yohan Cabaye thumped the penalty home in the 70th minute as Crystal Palace defeated Watford 1-0 to end a two-game skid and jump to sixth in the Premier League table, while leaving Watford with its first home loss of the season.

Other than the big moment, the game left much to be desired. Watford started with much of the attacking possession, but Crystal Palace got the best early chance on 13 minutes as Yohan Cabaye swung in a lateral free-kick and Brede Hangeland met it with his head from point-blank range, but Heurelho Garcia stopped the attempt almost blindly.

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The game closed down and dragged to the half-hour mark, but Vicarage Road remained noisy and bustling. As the game approached halftime, things sprung back to life as Watford continued to push on the ball and Palace defended and worked for set-pieces, but neither group could produce a chance to push themselves to the ascendency.

With the game begging for a moment of distinction, neither side changed much tactically into the second half. In fact, things bogged down even further after the restart, with constant whistles for persistent fouling by both sides. Watford would find themselves with the first chance of the 2nd half on 55 minutes as Troy Deeney chested down a long ball to Odion Igahlo who laid off for Aimen Abdi, but the low shot was saved by a collapsing Wayne Hennessey.

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That moment woke Watford up, and they began to push forward more consistently. In typical Palace fashion, they fed off opposition energy and worked forward themselves on the counter, and Dwight Gayle hit the post under pressure from Craig Cathcart.

Finally, the breakthrough came with 20 minutes to play as substitute Wilfried Zaha burst down the left edge of the box and was cut down by a tackle from Allan Nyom and a penalty was given with referee Anthony Taylor deciding correctly that the foul occured millimeters inside the box. Cabaye ripped a thunderous penalty into the top corner for the Palace lead.

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Watford continued to make rash challenges and give away free kicks, but they held firm with Palace threatening. Dwight Gayle was nearly able to put the game away with five minutes to go, but he put the effort wide. Watford pressed late, but had little to offer. The three points for Palace brought them to sixth in the table on 12 points, while Watford remain at nine.