Watford’s João Pedro levels late to dash Newcastle’s hopes of vital victory

The game had entered the 87th minute when Eddie Howe bellowed a command from the technical area. “Relax,” screamed Newcastle’s manager as his team failed to retain possession.

With hindsight, “concentrate” might have been the better instruction as, seconds later, João Pedro rose above Jamaal Lascelles and headed Watford level.

As Howe kicked a water bottle with rather terrifying fury, neutrals were left admiring the sublime cross from the substitute Kiko Femenía that prefaced the Brazilian’s equaliser. João Pedro reacted to it a split second faster than his marker, hurling himself at the ball and prompting a heartfelt howl of relief from Claudio Ranieri as it hit the back of the net.

Until then it had seemed that, thanks to Allan Saint-Maximin’s wonderful solo goal, Newcastle were about to register a second win of the season and clamber out of the bottom three. Yet they were never remotely convincing and Watford just about deserved their second draw of the League campaign.

It arrested a run of seven straight defeats, keeping them 17th, two points and two places ahead of Newcastle before next week’s vital matches against Burnley and Norwich.

“I’m satisfied but I want more,” said Watford’s manager. “I’m happy we never gave up but we did not play so good. We were anxious. I know we can do better.”

Ranieri gave debuts to his three new signings, the former Nice left-back Hassane Kamara, the ex Udinese centre-half Samir and Edo Kayembe, a midfielder acquired from Eupen.

Samir found himself hurled in the deep end, marking Chris Wood, Howe’s £25m new boy. The Brazilian defender did well but, even so, Wood swiftly showed off his potential, the former Burnley centre-forward dragging two defenders out of position and permitting Joelinton to flick the fallout from Ryan Fraser’s whipped in cross against the bar.

It proved an all too rare cameo on an afternoon when Wood invariably seemed on a different wavelength from his new team-mates and struggled to link play.

Apart from heading a corner from the impressive Kieran Trippier wide, he did little of note as Newcastle dominated first-half possession but created only half-chances. Their final balls were snatched and this consistently rushed approach offered a deep-sitting Watford cause for cautious optimism.

Related posts

Leave a Comment