3 late Premier League goals ruin it for Newcastle United
If you like the odd bet on the Premier League matches, or you support Newcastle United…Saturday afternoon was an object lesson in how quickly things can change.
For the better, or the…worse.
As the clock ticked down, everything looked good for Rafa Benitez, his players and the fans.
An excellent Matt Ritchie cross was thankfully met by Salomon Rondon, and not Joselu, a far more difficult chance than the Spaniard’s free header at Anfield, and the Venezuelan international held off his man to powerfully head home.
United hadn’t threatened that much, and indeed it was their first effort on target, but they had looked relatively comfortable at the other end.
So 1-0 after 29 minutes and just over an hour to survive, or build on that lead.
Newcastle actually looked the better team once taking the lead, as if often the case, the opposition needing to come out and Rafa at his best when trying to exploit gaps that open up on the break.
Second-half substitutions were to prove key though, Watford introducing their best player in Doucoure, and best striker in Deeney, on 54 minutes.
Newcastle retreated from that point and Watford were in the ascendancy, though still not seriously troubling Dubravka since he had to make an early from Deulofeu with his legs when the game was goalless.
Pressure soaked up and it looked like the job was more or less done as we moved into the final ten minutes.
Schar had replaced the injured Fernandez at half-time and Jonjo Shelvey came off the bench on 79 minutes, what could possibly go wrong…
A cross comes in, Shelvey loses his man, Doucoure free header and 1-1 with eight minutes to go.
Yedlin went close after the excellent Rondon set him up but then Watford almost won it at the death.
Still a good away point, or is it?
Results elsewhere in the relegation struggle had been going alright but the final seconds changed all that.
Mitrovic pops up in the 91st minute to beat Huddersfield, giving Fulham momentum with three games unbeaten and five points so far over the festive period.
Then 92nd minute and Cardiff get a massive victory at Leicester, to go with a valuable point at Palace in their last game.
These were the Saturday afternoon results:
Brighton 1 Everton 0
Fulham 1 Huddersfield
Leicester 0 Cardiff 1
Tottenham 1 Wolves 3
Watford 1 Newcastle United 1
Leaving the Premier League table looking like this, ahead of Liverpool v Arsenal in the teatime kick-off and the Sunday games:
In that 5.30pm kick-off, Liverpool lead Arsenal 4-1 at half-time, whilst these are the Sunday Premier League fixtures:
Crystal Palace v Chelsea
Burnley v West Ham
Southampton v Man City
Man Utd v Bournemouth
This is the time of year when some teams at the bottom start and put runs together and here’s hoping there are no more nasty surprises on Sunday.
Hopefully in the weeks and months to come, we will look back on today as a point won and not two crucial ones thrown away.
Newcastle have tough fixtures coming up whilst there are a number of games where those at the bottom play each other.
Stats from BBC Sport:
Watford 1 Newcastle 1
Watford: Doucoure 82
Newcastle: Shelvey 29
Possession was Watford 63% Newcastle 37%
Total shots were Watford 12 Newcastle 8
Shots on target were Watford 5 Newcastle 2
Corners were Watford 3 Newcastle 6
Referee: Graham Scott
Dubravka, Yedlin, Fernandez (Schar 46), Lascelles, Dummett, Ritchie, Hayden (Shelvey 79), Diame, Perez, Atsu, Rondon
Woodman, Muto, Joselu, Manquillo, Murphy
Crowd: 20,336 (Newcastle 2,000)
(The instant NUFC fan/writer reaction to the Watford match – Read HERE)
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