Zaha scored twice as Palace thumped Watford 4 – 1

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Zaha scored twice as Palace thumped Watford 4 – 1. Wilfried Zaha scored two late goals to wrap up the points for Patrick Vieira’s side after Conor Gallagher had put them ahead in the first half.

Crystal Palace earned their first Premier League win of 2022 with victory over former boss Roy Hodgson’s relegation-threatened Watford at Vicarage Road. Chelsea loanee Gallagher guided a deft touch into his path from Tyrick Mitchell’s cross and powered a strike past Hornets goalkeeper Ben Foster.

And with the hosts chasing the game late on, Zaha converted with a neat finish from substitute Jordan Ayew’s cross and then added a smart solo goal on the break.

Jean-Philippe Mateta had opened the scoring in the 15th minute, spinning and finding the net with an effort that took a deflection to wrong-foot Foster.

Watford levelled almost immediately when the unmarked Moussa Sissoko headed in Kiko Femenia’s corner from close range.

The result sees Palace climb to 11th while Watford remain four points from a position of safety, having played more games than the sides above them. Hodgson spent four years and 148 games in the Crystal Palace dugout but insisted there would be nothing sentimental about facing his old side for the first time since his departure at the end of last season.

It is an Eagles team that is unrecognisable in terms of style under Vieira, albeit worse off on points than the same stage last term, with Hodgson conceding they now play more expansive football than during his tenure.

Vieira is building a younger, more technically sound outfit but, after a solid start to the season, his side arrived in Hertfordshire on a six-game winless run since they beat Norwich on 28 December.

The Frenchman has bemoaned the “small details” that have cost Palace recently but they appeared to get those right on Wednesday with a clinical attacking performance, especially late on as Watford poured forward looking to level for the second time.

Despite Watford gaining their first win under Hodgson against Aston Villa on Saturday, neither of these sides had scored a goal in the first half of a Premier League game in 2022 before that changed for both in the space of three minutes.

First Mateta found the net via a deflection from Gallagher’s cross in what was the visitors’ first meaningful attack, only for Watford skipper Sissoko to nod in from two yards out to level with his first goal for the club and first in the Premier League since scoring in December 2019 for Tottenham.

Gallagher, unable to feature against parent club Chelsea last time out, showed his importance to Palace by putting the visitors back in front before the break with the eighth goal of his superb loan spell, one that was made by the midfielder’s sublime first touch.

Watford’s best chances to level fell to their own standout player this year, but Emmanuel Dennis could only coax over the crossbar after finding space inside the box.

The difference at the other end was Palace found Zaha in ruthless form, touching Ayew’s cross into his path before finding the corner and adding gloss to the performance with a curling effort on the break to make it four for the visitors.

Hodgson may have hoped he had turned a corner with Watford after that win over Villa, but Burnley’s victory against Tottenham sees them slip to 19th in the table and in serious trouble.

Source – BBC News

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