From bad to worse: Watford give up rare goal, then Deeney is sent off

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In a one-minute, 38-second span, Watford’s expectations for its match against Arsenal were completely flipped on their head.

[WATCH LIVE: Watford v. Arsenal]

First, goalkeeper Ben Foster‘s lackadaisical touch in the six-yard box allowed Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to close him down, resulting in a block that saw the ball ricochet into the net. Then, 98 seconds later, Watford captain Troy Deeney was shown a straight-red card after an assistant referee spotted Deeney leave an elbow into the head of Arsenal central midfielder Lucas Torreira.

That left Watford down a man and down a goal. Perhaps to make matters worse, Watford manager Javi Gracia doesn’t have a star like Gerard Deulofeu available on the bench to add that attacking spark that Watford will need without Deeney on the pitch.

Watford’s Deeney: “There’s not a ceiling on us yet”

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Watford’s climb up the Premier League table may have caught teams off guard, but Manchester City would be foolish not to appreciate what their opponents in the FA Cup Final can do over 90 (and then 120) minutes.

[ RECAP: Watford 3-2 (aet) Wolves ]

Down 2-0 with under 10 minutes to play in Sunday’s FA Cup semifinal against Wolves at Wembley Stadium, Gerard Deulofeu sandwiched a brace around Troy Deeney‘s stoppage time penalty to clinch their second spot in an FA Cup Final.

The Hornets are in the middle of a surprising fight for seventh in the Premier League, but could earn a Europa League spot regardless of where they finish by upsetting Manchester City back at Wembley on May 18.

Here’s Deeney, who’s been with the club for 123 goals and nine seasons, from the Championship to the top flight and an upcoming final.

From the BBC:

“I’ve said on many occasions that this team has something special. We’re not the most talented, we’re not all that, but the hard work and desire at 2-0 down… many teams would’ve called it a day but we kept fighting and kept going and brought the little man on, who produced a bit of magic.

“We’ve got room to grow, there’s not a ceiling on us yet a a team. For a club of this size, let’s enjoy this moment.”

Deeney is just one feel-good story in the bunch, as 38-year-old backup goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes made a number of fine saves in what could be the final run of his long career.

“The boys kept so cool,” Gomes said. “Troy Deeney can deal with any pressure, once more he did that for us. It was amazing and he deserves it as well. … It’s about the group, the team. I will not knock on the manager’s door to play in the final. If he needs me I will be there, if not we are well served by Ben Foster.”

A big task awaits the Hornets, but they’ll be ready and know that a comeback is always possible.

Watford smashes Cardiff through Deulofeu magic (video)

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  • Deulofeu puts Watford ahead early
  • Murphy denied 1st half penalty shout
  • Spaniard scores twice more in 2nd half
  • Deeney bags brace

Gerard Deulofeu scored his first Premier League hat trick and added an assist on Troy Deeney 73rd minute goal as Watford hammered Cardiff City 5-1 at Cardiff City Stadium on Friday.

Deulofeu went from 9 to 12 PL goals in one afternoon, hitting a skittering shot home in the first half before using his electric pace to carve up the Cardiff back line and put together his hat trick.

Deeney scored a second in stoppage time, as Watford reclaimed seventh in the Premier League table with 40 points.

Cardiff stays 17th with 25 points, with Sol Bamba scoring the Bluebirds’ goal.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Deulofeu’s first goal was a grounder through traffic from atop the 18, but his next two required more engine.

The Spaniard raced down the pitch and cut around Neil Etheridge to slot his second goal on a laser-precise counter, and the third goal looked similar as he slotted into an open goal.

He then worked a defender on the left of the box before cutting back for Deeney in a place the big striker enjoys.

Bamba’s finish of a goal-mouth scramble was Cardiff’s only answer, and Deeney swept up the scoring in stoppage.

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Deeney on wild draw: ‘Sunday League’ defending, poor officiating

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Troy Deeney spoke frankly after Watford’s intense 3-3 draw with Bournemouth at the Vitality Stadium on Wednesday.

[ RECAP: Bournemouth 3-3 Watford ]

“The defending from both teams was Sunday League at best to be honest,” Deeney said after scoring twice in the first half, which included all six goals.

Five of those came in 13 minutes.

“I didn’t feel we were fully in control,” he said. “It was an end-to-end game. It could have been 6-6.”

And Deeney had some more stiff words about the officials in a match where he admitted one of his teammates could’ve been sent off.

“Abdoulaye Doucoure probably did get lucky [to not be sent-off]. But you can’t tell me that their boy did not try to do Tom Cleverley. They know it. We know but the referee bottled it on a few occasions today.”

The fine is a-comin’ for that, but it underscores one of the storylines in a thriller; What a match by the Hornets and Cherries!

Hot Hazard runs Chelsea past Watford

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  • Kabasele stretchered out of stadium
  • Hazard scores in each half
  • Pereyra nets terrific equalizer (video)

Eden Hazard scored a pair of goals to lead Chelsea back up the table in a 2-1 win over Watford at Vicarage Road on Wednesday.

Roberto Pereyra scored a beautiful volley for Watford, but the Hornets will be more concerned with Christian Kabasele. The defender needed to be stretchered from the stadium after sliding into the goal post in a bid to block Hazard’s opener.

Chelsea is back into fourth, two points ahead of Arsenal and four back of Man City, while Watford finishes Boxing Day in the table’s ninth position.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Willian came near to making it 1-0 when Cesc Fabregas slotted him into the left of the box, and he beat Ben Foster but not the goal post.

Christian Kabasele slid hard into the post and needed plenty of help from the trainers. He tried to gut out a performance, but Adrian Mariappa needed to take his place.

Hazard missed a chance to open the scoring earlier in the half, but made no mistake in stoppage time. The Belgian squared his hips to shoot to the right, then kept dribbling and shot left after Ben Foster committed his body to the feint. Mateo Kovacic set up the goal.

Watford leveled the score within moments, a training ground play when saw Pereyra sneak atop the 18 for a volleyed finish inside the near post.

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Gerard Deulofeu thought he’d won a penalty off David Luiz in the 54th minute, but no whistle came for what appeared to be shoulder-to-shoulder.

Hazard won a penalty off Foster in the 57th, and left no doubt with his conversion.

N'Golo Kante and Troy Deeney missed chances at each end as the game reached its final 10 minutes.

Foster stopped a Willian chance cued up by Marcos Alonso in the 89th, the ensuing corner kick nearly serving the same purpose of a third goal.