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Watford 1-1 Southampton: Late Gray goal earns Watford point


Shane Long scores the fastest ever Premier League goal in the Southampton versus Watford game

Shane Long’s record-breaking strike was also his fourth goal of the season and his third in his last four games

Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuttl said his side are “not safe yet” after they conceded a 90th-minute equaliser to draw at Watford.

Shane Long had given the Saints an early lead when he scored the fastest goal in Premier League history.

Long struck after just 7.69 seconds and Southampton held on to their lead until Watford’s Andre Gray levelled from close range.

Southampton’s point means they are two places and six points above the relegation zone with three games remaining.

“We have 37 points and until we have 40 we do not speak about being safe,” said Hasenhuttl.

Long broke the previous record – set by Ledley King of Spurs on 9 December 2000 – when he blocked a Craig Cathcart pass, before lifting the ball over Watford keeper Ben Foster.

But Gray’s equaliser earned the hosts a point that moved them into seventh in the table, as the game finished as frantically as it began.

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‘The manager said to have a quick start!’ – Long on record goal

Saints also struck the post twice before half-time as Watford struggled, although the hosts were much improved after the break and created several chances in the second half.

Southampton keeper Angus Gunn had just saved a Roberto Pereyra header from close range when a rebound in the area fell kindly for Gray, who shot powerfully past Gunn at the near post.

“Now we have a home game against Bournemouth. If you’d told me that we’d have a chance to secure safety in that game when I took over, I’d have taken that,” added Hasenhuttl.

Watford moved above Everton into seventh place to maintain their prospects of qualifying for the Europa League via their league position, although they also have the chance to play in Europe through their FA Cup final against Manchester City.

Watford shake off early shock and dig deep

Watford were understandably stunned by Long’s record-breaking goal, but Gray nearly equalised within a couple of minutes when Gunn saved a shot at close range.

Gray’s header from the rebound looped over the bar, but Watford looked sluggish as the match calmed down following the frenetic start.

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Early goal affected game plan – Gracia

Without suspended captain Troy Deeney, Gerard Deulofeu was Watford’s main threat in the first half with a shot that curled just wide of the post and another that fizzed across the face of goal.

Manager Javi Gracia had withdrawn Cathcart at half-time, with the introduction of Kiko Femenia and a move to three at the back helping to bring about some much-needed improvement.

There was much more urgency from home side in the second half, with Gray and Abdoulaye Doucoure having chances in the opening minutes.

They maintained the pressure throughout the half before Gray’s late equaliser, although the lack of celebrations on the pitch seemed to suggest Watford were far from happy with just a point.

Saints so close to a rapid hit-and-run

Following Long’s early strike, Southampton had more chances to earn what would have been a vital three points before half-time.

Foster had deflected a shot from Nathan Redmond onto his near post, and Ryan Bertrand also struck the upright as the Saints looked to be comfortably controlling the game.

Long’s pace had been decisive in his goal and continued to trouble Watford, until Gracia’s tactical switch at half-time saw the momentum shift in the home side’s favour.

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Saints boss Hasenhuttl delighted with ‘big point’

A clever free-kick from James Ward-Prowse that nearly caught out Foster at his near post was as close as Hasenhuttl’s side came to adding to Long’s goal in the second half.

A win over south coast neighbours Bournemouth on Saturday could ensure Southampton’s safety, but there is a chance that the two points they let slip at Watford could still have the worst possible consequences.

Man of the match – Andre Gray (Watford)

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Andre Gray was persistent throughout and scored his sixth Premier League goal of the season when he equalised

‘Shane’s a good listener’ – what the managers said

Watford manager Javi Gracia: “We conceded an early goal and it changed what we prepared, to concede after some seconds is hard to accept. In that moment they played better and had more chances, but in the second half we changed, found a better balance and created chances.

“I am sure Craig tried to play quickly, sometimes these things happen and in these moments we just try to focus and improve.

“We are getting some goals at the end of games, we show character and desire.

“For other teams it is difficult to win these games [at Vicarage Road], all the teams are trying for different targets.”

Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuttl: “We want to be aggressive and Longy listened very well. He was quick, too quick for the centre-back and it was a fantastic start.

“It shows that he can score and it’s important for that we play a style that fits him well, because he’s very quick.

“You could see we were struggling at the end, the pressure was high. The problem was we didn’t score again in the first half, but we must take this point as it’s a big one for us. With a game against Bournemouth at home we can take the final step.

“I am always positive because I see how our team plays. We have showed we can take points off every opponent.”

Saints throwing it away – the stats you may have missed

  • Southampton have dropped a league-high 25 points from winning positions in the Premier League this season.
  • This is the first time Watford have accumulated as many as 50 points in a Premier League season, last doing so in the top flight in 1986-87 (63).
  • Watford have conceded at least once in their last nine Premier League games, the longest current run without a clean sheet in the competition.
  • Southampton have lost just one of their last 10 top-flight away games against Watford, although seven of those have ended level (W2).
  • Southampton striker Shane Long has scored three goals in his last four Premier League games, as many as he had in his previous 60 matches in the competition.
  • Andre Gray has scored four goals in his last six home games for Watford in all competitions.

What’s next?

Watford are at home to Wolves on Saturday, 27 April with a 15:00 BST kick-off. Southampton host Bournemouth in a south coast derby at the same time.

Live Text

Match ends, Watford 1, Southampton 1.

Second Half ends, Watford 1, Southampton 1.

Foul by Roberto Pereyra (Watford).

Josh Sims (Southampton) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Attempt blocked. Isaac Success (Watford) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked.

Goal! Watford 1, Southampton 1. Andre Gray (Watford) left footed shot from the centre of the box to the top right corner. Assisted by Daryl Janmaat.

Attempt blocked. Gerard Deulofeu (Watford) left footed shot from the right side of the box is blocked. Assisted by Andre Gray.

Attempt saved. Roberto Pereyra (Watford) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the top centre of the goal. Assisted by Gerard Deulofeu.

Corner, Watford. Conceded by Maya Yoshida.

Attempt blocked. Nathan Redmond (Southampton) right footed shot from the left side of the box is blocked. Assisted by Ryan Bertrand with a headed pass.

Offside, Southampton. James Ward-Prowse tries a through ball, but Josh Sims is caught offside.

Corner, Southampton. Conceded by Roberto Pereyra.

Offside, Southampton. Ryan Bertrand tries a through ball, but Nathan Redmond is caught offside.

Adam Masina (Watford) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Foul by Adam Masina (Watford).

Josh Sims (Southampton) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Corner, Southampton. Conceded by Ben Foster.

Attempt saved. James Ward-Prowse (Southampton) right footed shot from a difficult angle and long range on the left is saved in the bottom left corner.

Delay over. They are ready to continue.

Substitution, Southampton. Yan Valery replaces Shane Long because of an injury.

Substitution, Watford. Isaac Success replaces Will Hughes.

Delay in match Shane Long (Southampton) because of an injury.

Christian Kabasele (Watford) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Foul by Christian Kabasele (Watford).

Shane Long (Southampton) wins a free kick on the left wing.

Substitution, Southampton. Mario Lemina replaces Oriol Romeu.

Foul by Will Hughes (Watford).

Oriol Romeu (Southampton) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Delay over. They are ready to continue.

Delay in match Maya Yoshida (Southampton) because of an injury.

Substitution, Southampton. Josh Sims replaces Stuart Armstrong.

Corner, Watford. Conceded by Maya Yoshida.

Corner, Watford. Conceded by Pierre-Emile Højbjerg.

Attempt blocked. Daryl Janmaat (Watford) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.

Attempt blocked. Will Hughes (Watford) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Gerard Deulofeu.

Adam Masina (Watford) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by James Ward-Prowse (Southampton).

Will Hughes (Watford) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Pierre-Emile Højbjerg (Southampton).

Offside, Watford. Ben Foster tries a through ball, but Gerard Deulofeu is caught offside.