Fulham relegated after Watford’s Will Hughes opens the floodgates

first_imgAnother one bites the dust. Three days after Huddersfield’s fate was sealed, Fulham fell to the defeat that means they too will be relegated at the end of the season. For an hour they held their own, threatening to add to the miserable haul of two points with which they have rewarded their away following over the campaign, but after Watford took the lead for the second time with just over an hour played what had been something of a trial for the home side became an exercise in Wembley confidence-boosting. Share via Email Substitutes Share on Twitter Fulham were not deflated and for the remainder of the half only they truly threatened. The equaliser was a demonstration of all the worst traits the home side were exhibiting in this period: no Watford player so much as contested Foster’s goalkick and, after Zambo Anguissa’s header was worked to Babel, via Mitrovic and Sessegnon, Adrian Mariappa helpfully fell over, allowing the Dutchman to take the ball around Foster and slot into an empty net.Boos rang out as the players left the field at the interval, with Javi Gracia’s displeasure evident in his decision to instruct Daryl Janmaat and Gray to spend the break warming up before replacing Pereyra and the tricky but ineffective Gerard Deulofeu. It took Janmaat only two minutes to make an impact, though when he did it was to Tom Cairney’s knee; Gray, meanwhile, set about turning the game.If Watford did not immediately threaten to dismiss their opponents with overwhelming quality, their passing was at least less risible. Gray added pace and urgency to the attack and for the first time the elementary errors that dogged Fulham’s defeat to Manchester City at the weekend returned. Twitter 21 Fosu-Mensah 6 4 11 Masina 13 Ream Share on Pinterest FUL53WAT47% 26 Foster 19Fulham33-4617 6 Mariappa 25 Sergio Rico Read more 12 Babel 29 Capoue (s 78′) 25 Holebas 16Southampton31-1533 Will Hughes (centre) is congratulated on restoring Watford’s lead. Photograph: Nigel French/PA Pinterest 20 Le Marchand 29 Zambo 3 Sessegnon 17Burnley32-2233 Fulham fans try to keep their spirits up at Vicarage Road. Photograph: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images Gracia said: “The game was very tough in the first half. In my opinion Fulham played much, much better than us. We didn’t have the possession, we didn’t find the right balance, we didn’t adjust well our movement. We lost all the challenges and we needed to adjust.“But after I think we felt more comfortable on the pitch. We scored very good goals and it was good for the team, for the confidence and to prepare as well as possible for the next game.” Fulham Corners 16 Doucoure Share on Facebook 7 Deulofeu Watford 2 Janmaat 21 Femenia Watford had only vaguely threatened another goal, Rico turning Holebas’s deflected cross over the bar before Gray’s long-range drive deflected wide, before they retook the lead. Maxime Le Marchand headed a Watford corner to the edge of the area, where Doucouré and Hughes competed with each other for an unchallenged volley. The Englishman won the duel and smashed an irresistible shot past Rico and into the roof of the net.Fulham’s resolve, which had held up impressively after the first goal, completely crumbled. Gray set up easy finishes for the unmarked Troy Deeney and the insultingly ignored Kiko Femenía – with Doucouré again losing a battle with a teammate for the right to administer the coup de grâce. Watford scored three times in 12 minutes and could have had as many more again, and though Sessegnon and the substitute Jean Michaël Seri had chances, all Fulham got was misery. Fulham Reuse this content 12 Sema FUL WAT 19 Hughes Goal attempts Facebook 12 4 The Fiver: sign up and get our daily football email.center_img 1 Gomes Share on Messenger 23 Bryan 37 Pereyra Watford 18 Gray The catalyst, for Watford’s third home game in a row, was Andre Gray. Having come off the bench to score winning goals against Everton and Leicester, this time he was provider and all-round menace, setting up the third and fourth as Watford threatened to turn what was already a dispiriting occasion for Fulham into a humiliation.The result extends Fulham’s run of consecutive defeats to nine and there have been 13 in their last 14 games in all competitions. But for Sergio Rico, who saved well from José Holebas, Abdoulaye Doucouré and Gray himself as Watford searched for a fifth goal, the final score could have been considerably worse.Watford head into Sunday’s FA Cup semi-final with their morale healthily buoyed – even if their opponents, Wolves, will hardly be dispirited after their victory over Manchester United. But such an outcome looked unlikely during a first half in which the home side’s performance was for the most part lamentable. Substitutes Possession 31 Ramirez Fouls 14 Schurrle 5 Chambers 15 Cathcart Scott Parker admits Fulham ‘don’t have the nous’ after relegation confirmed 9 Mitrovic Share on LinkedIn (s 87′) Within 10 minutes the away fans were lustily olé-ing every pass as Fulham dominated possession, and suggesting in somewhat crude terms that the fact that Aleksandar Mitrovic, back in the team after a stomach injury, had a headed effort – however wide it went – reflected poorly on their opponents.But in this early period, when they needed luck it was absent, and when they needed quality that was missing as well. Ben Foster blasted a clearance into Mitrovic but the ball rebounded to a defender; the same player skewed a weak effort wide after André-Frank Zambo Anguissa had nicely pilfered the ball from an opponent’s toe in midfield; Ryan Sessegnon’s technique failed him when Ryan Babel lifted a lovely pass into his path.Then Watford scored. The closest they had come had been when Roberto Pereyra’s lovely turn on the edge of the area in the 16th minute allowed him to surge into space before shooting into a defender. The Argentinian was also involved in the goal seven minutes later, letting Will Hughes’s pass run through his legs and giving Doucouré room to burst into the area and drive a left-footed shot into the net. (s 46′) 7 Kebano Share on WhatsApp Match stats 53 47 Pinterest 20 Quina (s 46′) Twitter (s 81′) match reports Facebook (s 72′) 6 McDonald Topics 18Cardiff31-3128 27 Kabasele 10 Cairney 22 Christie 8 Watford Off target 10 Fulham 7 Watford On target 7 Fulham Lineups 24 Seri 4 Odoi Premier League 9 Deeney PosTeamPGDPts 20Huddersfield32-4114last_img

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