Ighalo Strikes Late To Defeat Blackburn
Sat 7th Feb - 3:00pm
Odion Ighalo's late strike gave Watford a vital if undeserved three points at Vicarage Road this afternoon as they beat Blackburn Rovers 1-0. After an uneventful first half finished 0-0 it was the visitors who had the best chances in the second half with Heurelho Gomes saving Watford on a few occasions. However, Ighalo turned in a corner with seven minutes to go against the run of play to ensure it was the Hornets who ran out 1-0 winners.
Slavisa Jokanovic made just one change from the side that lost 2-0 at Bournemouth last weekend. Juan Carlos Paredes returned in place of Daniel Tozser meaning Miguel Layun returned to his midfield position. Gabriele Angella continued in the centre of Watford's defence after his red card last Friday was overturned this week.
Rudy Gestede returned to the Blackburn squad after a leg injury but wasn't risked from the start meaning Chris Brown again partnered Jordan Rhodes in attack. Watford January transfer target Jay Spearing lined up against the Hornets in Blackburn's midfield after joining them on loan last Friday.
The first chance of a scrappy first half fell the way of the visitors when Chris Brown flicked on a long ball forward and found Jordan Rhodes on the edge of the box but he fired his effort well over the bar.
Watford didn't have to wait long for their first opening when Ikechi Anya made up ground down the left flank and found Miguel Layun 25-yards out but his effort was straight at goalkeeper Jason Steele.
Moments later the Hornets wasted a better change when Layun's deep corner found Gabriele Angella free at the back post but he headed straight at Steele rather than back across goal.
The next half chance for the hosts fell the way of Ben Watson. Odion Ighalo did well to hold the ball up inside the Blackburn half and find Watson on 25-yards out but the midfielder drove his powerful effort over the crossbar.
Midway through the first half the Hornets suddenly found themselves on the back foot as Rovers created some pressure. First, Rhodes had another sight of goal 20 yards out and shot just over before a minute later Chris Brown got on the end of a deep free kick but put his header just wide of the far post.
The best chance of the first half fell the way of the hosts after 36 minutes. More good work by Anya on the left saw him put in a perfect cross which was inadvertently flicked into the path of Troy Deeney but his powerful goalbound effort was spectacularly blocked by Matthew Kilgallon.
Just before the break it was Rovers chance to come close again when the Hornets gave away a free kick 25 yards out. Ben Marshall stepped up and set en effort goalwards but Heurelho Gomes was on hand to push the ball away.
Half Time: Watford 0-0 Blackburn Rovers
As the second half took hold it was the visitors grabbed the game the scruff of the neck and created a number of chances to take the lead.
Rhodes came close after 52 minutes when a near post cross by Marshall found him free but he headed over the bar. Minutes later, a defensive mix-up between Angella and Tommie Hoban presented Craig Conway with the ball but fired over.
On the hour mark Blackburn were presented with the best chance of the game so far. A deep cross by Conway saw Gomes come to meet to meet the ball but all he could do was palm it into the path of Rhodes. The Blackburn striker controlled on his chest and shot goalwards but with the goal gaping Angella got back to block the ball away.
Blackburn continued to press for the opening goal of the game and Gomes had to alert again midway through the second half when Conway shot at goal through a crowd of players following a blocked cross but the Brazilian was good enough to turn the ball away for a corner.
Gomes was called into action again after 72 minutes when Rovers substitute Rudy Gestede knocked down a long ball into the Watford box and found Rhodes but Gomes hot down to turn that behind for a corner as well.
Having soaked up a lot of second half pressure Watford hit Blackburn with the sucker punch when they took the lead after 83 minutes. Layun's corner was half cleared before Angella returned the ball goalwards. His pass found Ighalo who turned and shot at goal. Steele in the Blackburn goal did his best to keep his effort out but could only tip the ball onto the post before it trickled in.
Watford thought they had made the game safe in the final minute of stoppage time a short corner saw substitute Almen Abdi cross for Ighalo to head in his second only for him to be denied by the offside flag.
Full Time: Watford 1-0 Blackburn Rovers
Watford: Gomes, Cathcart, Angella, Hoban (Vydra), Paredes, Munari, Watson (Abdi), Layun (Tozser), Anya, Ighalo, Deeney
Subs Not Used: Bond (GK), Doyley, Pudil, Forestieri
Blackburn Rovers: Steele, Lowe, Hanley, Kilgallon, Olsson, Marshall (Cairney), Spearing (King), Evans, Conway, Brown (Gestede), Rhodes
Subs Not Used: Eastwood (GK), Spurr, Baptiste, Taylor
Att: 15,011 (720 Blackburn)
Ref: Mr Andrew Madley