Ighalo’s 14th Premier League goal sinks Newcastle United
Odion Ighalo’s 14th Premier League goal of the season ensures Watford beat rejuvenated Steve McClaren’s Newcastle 2-1 at Vicarage Road. The Nigerian whose goal against Chelsea was recently ruled off, rounded Newcastle goal keeper for Watford’s second goal.
After a poor first period Watford took the lead 44 seconds into the second half. Troy Deeney lofted a through-ball in behind for Ighalo, who hit his seventh goal in seven games at Vicarage Road.
Cathcart soon put the hosts in control with the second goal, thrashing home a loose ball in the penalty area, to put Watford on track for a third win against Newcastle this season in all competitions.
Jamaal Lascelles gave Newcastle a route back into the match with a 71st-minute header, but Watford held on to secure their first ever Premier League double.
The three points lifts Watford back into the top half of the Premier League, while Newcastle remain in the relegation zone after their fourth straight defeat away from home.
Steve McClaren switched to a back three due to Newcastle’s defensive injury crisis and handed a first Premier League start to newcomer Henri Saivet, while Watford made one change, with Juan Carlos Paredes replacing Allan Nyom at right-back.
Rolando Aarons was making his first appearance since September and he had the first sight of goal on four minutes, flashing a drive well wide after good work by Moussa Sissoko.
Watford could have taken the lead on 16 minutes but Rob Elliot pulled off a smart double save. Troy Deeney saw his shot turned away and Etienne Capoue should have put away the rebound, but his effort was also blocked by Elliot.
Heurelho Gomes then kept out Aleksandar Mitrovic’s shot with his legs as Newcastle sought their first goal in four away Premier League matches.
Watford were marginally on top but their final ball was poor, with little quality in the attacking third from either side.
Nevertheless, the hosts took the lead within a minute of the restart, Ighalo scoring for the first time in five matches.
Deeney found his strike partner with a perfect chipped through-ball and Ighalo raced clear before shimmying past Elliot and slotting into the empty net for his 14th goal of the season.
Cathcart lashed in from close range after Ighalo held off his man in the box to double the lead after 58 minutes.
Yoan Gouffran and Ayoze Perez both put headers well wide from good positions as Newcastle looked for a way back into the match.
Lascelles gave his side a lifeline on 71 minutes, powerfully heading home Jonjo Shelvey’s corner to mark his first Premier League start in style.
Mitrovic and Emmanuel Riviere both planted headers narrowly wide while Elliot saved from Ighalo and Etienne Capoue blazed over the crossbar with five minutes to go as Watford sought a vital third goal, but the one-goal cushion proved enough for Quique Sanchez Flores’ men.
Key Opta stats:
-Odion Ighalo’s goal was the third quickest second-half goal scored in the Premier League in 2015-16 (45:44).
-Ighalo has scored seven goals in his last seven Premier League appearances at Vicarage Road.
-Troy Deeney has assisted six of Ighalo’s Premier League goals this season – no player has assisted more for another player (Ozil for Giroud and Deulofeu for Lukaku also six).
-Craig Cathcart scored his second Premier League goal and nearly five years to the day since his first (25/01/2011 – Blackpool v Man Utd).
-Watford have defeated Newcastle three times in all competitions this season, all by a one goal margin (2 x 2-1 and 1 x 1-0).
-The Hornets defeated an opponent both home and away in the same Premier League season for the first time.
-The Magpies have scored just seven goals in their last 17 Barclays Premier League away matches.
-This is the first time that Watford have conceded in a competitive home game this season and not lost (six matches).