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Watford beat Bournemouth to reach third round of Capital One Cup
9:45pm Wednesday 28th August 2013 in Sport
A memorable chip from Cristian Battocchio enabled Watford to secure a 2-0 victory over Bournemouth at Vicarage Road tonight and book their place in the third round of the Capital One Cup for the first time since 2008.
The Hornets had taken the lead in unusual fashion in the first half through a bizarre Elliot Ward own goal but they needed Jonathan Bond to pull off some fine saves to keep the Cherries at bay before Javier Acuna led a charge downfield and supplied Battocchio, who beat a bemused Ryan Allsop with a superb lob from the edge of the area.
The first question going into the game was how many changes Gianfranco Zola would make and the answer turned out to be ten, with Daniel Pudil the sole player to be included from Sunday’s starting line-up against Nottingham Forest.
This meant, as expected, Essaid Belkalem made his debut, while captain for the night Joel Ekstrand was alongside him in the back three after recovering from his ankle problem.
By contrast, Eddie Howe decided to leave his side relatively unchanged, making just the three adjustments to the team that was thumped 5-1 at Huddersfield Town on Saturday to make it 11 goals conceded on the road on the back of the 6-1 drubbing at the hands of the Hornets earlier this month.
In came Ward and midfielders Marc Pugh and Richard Hughes, with top scorer Lewis Grabban and Steve Cook dropping to the bench, while Harry Arter was left out.
The visitors had most of the early possession during a relatively quiet opening to the contest. But in the 13th minute the Hornets were presented with the first opportunity either side had to have an attempt at goal when Fernando Forestieri was upended in a central position around 25 yards out but Sean Murray couldn’t keep his free-kick underneath the bar.
Within two minutes though, the Hornets had taken the lead in bizarre circumstances.
Forestieri was given the opportunity to attack the left side of the Bournemouth defence and he crossed to try and pick out Acuna attacking the heart of the penalty spot. The ball was intercepted by Ward, who tried to chest it back towards Allsop, only to be left with his head in his hands after the ball looped over the helpless keeper and into the net to make it 1-0.
Watford weren’t too far away from making it 2-0 in the 21st minute when they broke out from a Cherries corner; Murray finding Forestieri on the left and he hit a magnificent cross-field forward pass to Pudil. He headed into the path of Davide Faraoni, who marauded forwarded as the visitors desperately tried to get back and the Italian’s early low cross into the area wasn’t too far away from being converted by the sliding Acuna.
Goalmouth action though, continued to be at something at a premium but in the 32nd minute Bournemouth went close to equalising when Belkalem tripped Brett Pitman towards the left edge of the area.
The Cherries striker took the set-piece himself, hitting a low right-footed footed curler which Bond did well to get a touch on to divert on to the far post before the ball was put behind for a corner.
Bond managed to punch that delivery behind for another corner before repelling the ball from the other side of the pitch to the edge of the area where Scott MacDonald half-volleyed it back into the danger zone, it was partially blocked but sat up invitingly for Tommy Elphick, only for the centre-half to lift it over the target.
A lapse from Faraoni then gave Pitman the opportunity to attack the left side of the area but he powered a rising drive over the bar.
It was soon Watford’s chance to go close again, with Acuna striking a powerful right-footed drive which was deflected narrowly wide of Allsop’s right-hand post.
Andrew Surman will feel he should have done better in the 41st minute though, when he was picked out by Pugh’s cross from the left but the midfielder headed wide of Bond’s left-hand post when an effort on target would surely have brought his side level.
The Hornets almost had an opening within two minutes of the restart when a slide rule pass released Faraoni on the right but Allsop’s decision to race from his line paid off as he got just enough on the ball to nick it away from the right wing-back and avert the danger.
Another semblance of an opening came and went after some sloppy play by the visitors enabled Watford to put together a neat build-up in and around the edge of the Bournemouth area which saw the ball worked to Pudil, but he blasted wide of the target.
But it was Bond who came to his side’s rescue again in the 56th minute when he was very smartly off his line to deny MacDonald after he latched onto a through ball and the keeper was then quickly to his feet to force the midfielder to put the follow-up wide.
The Hornets keeper had to make another save on the hour-mark to hold onto Pugh’s well-struck effort from the edge of the area as Howe got ready to make a double change with Mohamed Coulibaly replacing Ryan Fraser and Wes Thomas coming on for MacDonald. Zola also took that opportunity to reshuffle his defence, with Reece Brown making way for Gabriele Angella.
But having looked in some discomfort with their opponents increasingly looking they might get back in the tie, Watford opened up a two-goal cushion with a superb counter-attack that was rounded off in truly exquisite fashion.
The Hornets broke down the left with Acuna running at the Cherries defence at pace before sliding the ball forward and to the right of the area where Battocchio, spotting Allsop marginally off his line, proceeded to produce a gorgeous chip that dropped into the back of the net off the underside of the bar.
But 2-0 could easily have become 2-1 three minutes later were it not for Bond, who was having an excellent night.
The Cherries were awarded a corner on the left and Ward met it with a towering header, only to see Bond brilliantly claw it away before the follow-up was nodded over the top.
Ikechi Anya then came on for Faraoni before Pudil decided to try his luck with a chip, delivering one from an acute angle on the left 25 yards out and Allsop had to back track to push it over.
Another opportunity for the Cherries came and went after 77 minutes when Surman drove in a low cross from the right but neither Thomas or another stretching teammate could divert the ball into the net as it flashed across the six-yard box.
Acuna wasn’t too far away from making it three though, with a fine curling effort after being teed up by Forestieri before the visitors made their final change as Donal McDermott came on for Pugh.
The Paraguayan then went down with cramp and was replaced by Lewis McGugan as the Hornets were able to safely see out the remainder of the contest without undue alarm.
Watford: Bond; Brown (Angella 62), Ekstrand, Belkalem; Faraoni (Anya 72), Battocchio, Smith, Murray, Pudil; Acuna (McGugan 84), Forestieri. Not used: Almunia, Fabbrini, Ikpeazu and O’Nien.
Bournemouth: Allsop; Francis, Elphick, Ward, Harte; Hughes; Fraser (Coulibaly 62), MacDonald (Thomas 62), Surman, Pugh (McDermott 82); Pitman. Not used: Flahavan, Cook, Grabban and Addison.
Attendance: 9,824 (509 away).
Referee: Darren Deadman.
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