Javi Gracia felt Watford were playing their best football of the game when they conceded the second goal during tonight’s 2-1 defeat to Chelsea at Vicarage Road.

The Hornets came out for the second period with intensity after Roberto Pereyra’s fine volley had quickly cancelled out Eden Hazard’s opener in first-half injury-time. But after the Belgian star had converted his second from the penalty spot after being fouled by Ben Foster, the home side were able to create few chances to equalise as the Blues went close on a few occasions to increasing their advantage.

The Hornets head coach said: “We know it’s difficult playing against Chelsea because they are a very good team and have a very good squad. We knew it would be difficult to get a good result but I think we’ve tried.

“Maybe in the moment when we were playing better, in my opinion, in the second half, playing more time in the opposition half, it was when we conceded the second goal. But I’m proud of the effort of my players and we’ll try to do better to get a better result in the next game.”

Both Chelsea goals were scored following mistakes from the Hornets and Gracia reflected: “In the first half we have conceded one clear chance for them after losing the ball in a lateral pass. The first goal was after missing a lateral pass again and I know it’s not easy because in that moment we were defending and after running a lot maybe you don’t find the pass quickly, but these teams recover the ball because after losing they have a good reaction.

“But I think we had a very good reaction, scoring our goal and it was a shame, in the second half when we were playing well we conceded the second goal.”

Asked if he was disappointed by the Hornets’ display after they had fallen behind for a second time, Gracia said: “You know players like Hazard, Willian, Pedro, (N’Golo) Kante, all of them have the quality to appear and do something different. But we tried to be constant, be disciplined and to defend well. Sometimes pressing high because in the second half, pressing high we’ve recovered more balls in the opposition half, but being compact all the time. We need to do it and after that if you take the chances you have maybe you have the option to take points against these teams.”

The Hornets boss was unable to provide an update on Christian Kabasele’s injury after the Belgian defender collided with a post in the first half and was later taken to hospital on a stretcher.