Roy Hodgson rued Crystal Palace’s missed opportunities after Watford fought from behind to secure a 2-1 victory at Selhurst Park.
Hornets defender Craig Cathcart scored at either end, before Tom Cleverley sealed all three points for the visitors with a fine volley just six minutes after coming on as a substitute.
The win moved Watford back above West Ham in the table, after their earlier victory against Arsenal. Palace they will be looking over their shoulder once more despite heading into Saturday’s fixture hoping for a third consecutive win.
“Of course it hurts,” said Hodgson. “It is tough to lose any game, tough to lose at home, and it is even tougher because we have done well lately.
“I hoped this would provide the chance to get that elusive third consecutive victory to lift us to a more comfortable place in the table, and I am feeling very sad that we couldn’t do it.
“But, if you want to win games, you need to take the chances that come your way.”
Cathcart’s own goal, following a goalmouth scramble, afforded Palace the lead heading into the interval, and the hosts had chances to put the game to bed.
Wilfried Zaha, who now has not scored or laid on an assist in 13 matches, was probably the most culpable, after hitting Ben Foster’s out-stretched leg, and then blazing high and wide after neat footwork in Watford’s box early on in the second period.
Palace’s scoring troubles are well-documented, with just six goals to their name at home this season, and only four from open play.
“We started the second half brightly, and we had the opportunities to increase our lead which would have made life very difficult for Watford, but we were not as effective as them,” Hodgson added.
Watford stemmed Palace’s speedy second-half start and were back on level terms after 67 minutes when Cathcart made amends for putting through his own net after leaping above James Tomkins and heading home Jose Holebas’ corner.
Seconds later, Cleverley was introduced, and within six minutes the game turned on its head following his fine volley.
The former Manchester United and Everton midfielder has only recently returned from a near year-long injury lay-off. His appearance here at Selhurst Park was just his fourth in the Premier League this season.
Watford have now won 16 points away from Vicarage Road which is a greater haul than they managed on the road throughout the entirety of their last campaign.
“I am proud of all my players, not only for today but other games where we have competed well, with good and bad results, but always kept a good level,” said boss Javi Gracia.
“After the own goal it was more difficult for us, but in that moment the team showed character, ambition.
“Tom scored an amazing goal, and to be able to turn the result around was important.”
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