Miguel Britos

Watford 0-0 Brighton and Hove Albion: Gulls can’t break down 10-man Hornets

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  • Brighton has hour up a man
  • Amrabat, Knockaert play well
  • Gomes gets the job done

Watford stayed unbeaten thanks to fine defending down a man in a scoreless draw against visiting Brighton and Hove Albion at Vicarage Road on Saturday.

Miguel Britos went from hero to goat in a hurry, earning a red card weeks after snaring a late point for Watford versus Liverpool.

Brighton could not find the back of the net despite a lively day from Anthony Knockaert.

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Nordin Amrabat won a dangerous free kick with a little embellishment following a manhandling from Markus Suttner, and a powerful ensuing header was blocked before it could get to Mathew Ryan.

Amrabat set up another chance with physical play against Suttner, but a pair of Hornets couldn’t get on the end of a square pass through the 18.

Brighton elbowed its way into the proceedings, and Knockaert forced Heurelho Gomes into a horizontal parry in the 23rd minute.

Miguel Britos then further put the ball in Brighton’s court with an ugly sliding challenge that earned him a red card with better than an hour to play.

Brighton hit a pair of posts, but received a scare when on-yellow Bruno tempted a red to even things up. No call.

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Kiko Femenia saved Gomes from a tricky stop in the 50th minute, and Brighton earned a corner.

Shane Duffy barely missed with a far post header moments later, and the Gulls were knocking at the door.

Brighton was awarded an indirect kick inside the area when Abdolaye Doucoure was whistled for a high kick inside the 18. The charging wall got a piece of Lewis Dunk‘s effort and it was out for a corner.

Oddly enough it was a counter of a Watford corner that saw Brighton really threaten a diving Gomes.

Record signing Jose Izquierdo came off the bench for Brighton and nearly curled a long distance effort into the upper 90.

Watford 2-0 West Brom: 10-man Hornets build lead, hold on

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  • Hornets nab 2nd straight win
  • Sides split season series
  • Britos sees red

M’Baye Niang scored off a Troy Deeney feed before the two flipped the script for a second as Watford took a 2-0 lead before navigating a red card in a win over West Bromwich Albion at Vicarage Road on Tuesday.

Watford moves into 10th with 37 points, while West Brom stays eighth with 44.

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A long ball came to captain Troy Deeney, and a flick to Niang found the ball in the back of the goal.

James McClean could’ve doomed West Brom’s chances when he clattered into Jose Holebas and then engaged in some extracurriculars, but only a yellow was shown. Tony Pulis took the midfielder off at halftime.

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Watford made it 2-0 when Niang returned the favor to Deeney with a curling cross over the Baggies’ back line. Deeney’s first touch almost misled him, but he made amends with a classy low touch to beat Ben Foster.

Nacer Chadli tore a shot off the outside of the net as the Baggies tried to find a way back into the match.

Things got more interesting when Britos chopped down Salomon Rondon to pick up a red card, and the Hornets would face 20 minutes up two goals but down a man. That wasn’t much of a problem, as Watford could’ve added a third despite the disadvantage.

Watford 1-0 Sunderland: Rare Britos goal buries Black Cats

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  • Watford moves 10th
  • Sunderland seven off safety

Miguel Britos scored his first Watford goal to ease the Hornets seven points clear of the drop zone in a 1-0 win over visiting Sunderland on Saturday.

The Black Cats remain dead last in the Premier League with just 20 points.

Britos joined the Hornets from Napoli in the summer of 2015, and won the last of Watford’s three successful 50-50 battles off a 59th minute corner.

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Adnan Januzaj sent a curling, speculative, and — it turns out — dangerous effort toward goal just 10 minutes in, and Watford’s Heurelho Gomes had to lead to keep it scoreless.

Mostly though, the better of the chances belonged to Watford. Etienne Capoue came close to scoring before halftime with a long distance effort.

The Hornets didn’t find their breakthrough until the second half, when Britos was the final Watford man to win three quick 50-50 balls off a corner kick.

Wahbi Khazri‘s 89th minute free kick was well defended by Watford’s back line, as Sunderland’s late charge came up short.

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Italy: Napoli, Roma stay perfect as top five pulls clear

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Rafa Benítez’s hot start to his Serie A return had failed to draw huge trumpets through three rounds, mostly because an easy slate of opening fixtures gave the new Napoli boss little chance to impress. This week, however, that changed drastically, with a Champions League visit from Borussia Dortmund and a trip to AC Milan guaranteed to test one of Italy’s last two perfect sides. If Napoli won both those games, there’d be no denying their place amongst the best clubs in Europe, right?

As it turns out, not all wins are created equal, and while the Neopolitans deserve credit for posting successive 2-1 wins, each require some more context. On Wednesday, a first half red card left visiting Dortmund with 10 for the second half, and while Napoli were already up by the time Roman Weidenfeller handled outside his area, the sending off amounted to a huge what if. What if last year’s Champions League finalists had got to halftime at full strength? Would some of the push we saw at match’s end have been better-rewarded?

Sunday’s caveats were different, but there were still caveats. Napoli went up early on a set piece through Miguel Britos, controlled much of the first half, and saw a Gonzalo Higuaín blast through Christian Abbiati give them a two-goal lead early in the second half. But somewhere along the way, Milan had gained control, with Mario Balotelli becoming game’s focal point. Stressing a defense that was thought to be Napoli’s weak spot before the season, the Milan attacker slowly made the game into a question of whether (and how often) he’d break through.

But a penalty stop by Pepe Reina, the first miss in 22 career tries by Balotelli, hinted there’d be no breakthrough. Another blast off the woodwork midway through the second provided confirmation, as did a penalty appeal denied by Luca Banti. Despite 12 shots on goal and a late consolation tally (a nice finish by the Italian international), Balotelli was unable to dent Napoli’s perfect start, eventually earning a second yellow card for a post-whistle altercation with Valon Behrami.

Milan would end up with big advantages in all the main indicators — shots (22-9), shots on goal (8-3), and possession (56-44) — but most of that was due to Napoli’s early lead. On the road against one of Italy’s most talented (if injury-riddled) sides, the partenopei’s win was a strong one, even if Batoletti seemed determined to take it from them. On another day — if the penalty goes in, if Balotelli’s a little more precise earlier in the match, if Abbiati doesn’t concede a soft one to Higuaín — Napoli’s willingness to give Milan so many cracks many have bitten them. On Sunday, it served as confirmation their defense could hold out.

In that sense, it wasn’t the most resounding of victories, but it was still a good one. And with Rafa Benítez on the sidelines, Napoli fans are going to have to get used to this type of game management. But given the team’s won five in a row and sit near the top of the league, it’s hard to nit-pick too much. If Rafa’s style continues to produce these results, we’ll soon hear those trumpets

Highlights:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ovErYfcPVsY]
source: Getty Images
Francesco Totti, who signed a contract extension through 2017 mid-week, assisted on Sunday’s first goal as Roma win this year’s first Rome Derby. (Photo: Getty Images.)

ROMA KEEP PACE AT TOP

If you do want to nit-pick, Napoli’s not actually at the top of the league. At best they’re joint top, but if one team were to be singled out, that honor would belong to Roma, whose 2-0 victory over rival Lazio moves them first on goal difference. Along with Napoli, Barcelona, and Atlético Madrid, they are one of four perfect teams remaining in Europe’s top five leagues.

Like Napoli, part of their climb has been fueled by a kind fixture list, one that should have become decidedly more difficult with today’s Rome Derby. Yet to a Roma defense that had only allowed one goal all year, the Aquile offense never presented a problem. Morgan De Sanctis went untested in the Giallorossi goal, leaving the match to be decided by Rudi Garcia’s attack.

For one half, Roma were no more effective than their rivals, but when Francisco Totti set up Federico Balzaretti’s left-footed volley just past the hour, the game was all but decided.

Highlights:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=av7ZiHFdeKU]

Between their decisive round two loss to Juventus and today’s underwhelming derby performance, Lazio looks like they’ve taken a step back from the team that won last year’s Coppa Italia. It may be too early to write them off, but it’s not too early to note something’s wrong. Through four rounds they’ve collected six points, but they were a combined -5 against Juve and Roma.

The Giallorossi, on the other hand, have claimed 12 and are part of a quintet that look poised to pull away from the league. In a season they were expected to compete for Europe and little more, Rudi Garcia may be slotting his team along side Inter as surprise competition for the league’s three favorites. A controlling win over their fiercest rivals hints Roma may be destined for greater things.

THE REST OF “THE FIVE”

After this weekend’s action, that quintet of Roma, Napoli, Inter Milan, Fiorentina and Juventus have pulled a full game clear of Livorno and Torino (sixth, seventh place). Inter did so with a 7-1 demolition of newly promoted Sassulo, giving them 13 goals through four games (with only one allowed). Fiorentina got another goal from Giuseppe Rossi in their 2-0 win at Atalanta, while Juventus had to come back from one down to take full points from Verona in Turin. Each team is 3-0-1, two points behind Roma and Napoli.

ELSEWHERE IN ITALY

Manolo Gabbiadini scored twice late at Calgiari, both equalizers sandwiched around Daniele Conti’s goal, as Sampdoria got a 2-2 result on the road … Serio Pellissier and Luca Rigoni had turned around a first-minute deficit by halftime as Chievo defeated visiting Udinese, 2-1 … Catania and Parma played to a 0-0 … A late first half red card to Bologna’s Cesare Natali proved decisive as Alessio Cerci’s penalty gave Torino the 2-1 lead they’d keep through full-time.