A Gerard Deulofeu double sealed victory for the Hornets as Javi Gracia’s side beat Huddersfield to increase their hopes of finishing seventh.
It didn’t take long for the recently relegated side to concede. Jonathan Hogg lost the ball outside his own box before Terence Kongolo’s tackle diverted the ball into the path of Deulofeu, who guided it well past Jonas Lossl into the back of the net. Deulofeu assured the win late on, converting from close range as Jonas Lossl parried Sema’s shot into his path.
Seconds before the end, Huddersfield’s top goalscorer Karlan Grant netted a late consolation. Grant took advantage of some poor Watford defending, as he headed in from close range seconds before the final whistle.
The dismal Terriers remain at the bottom of the table, while Watford inch closer to European football in seventh place.
Europa League football returning to Watford?
It’s been 35 years since the Hornets have played European football and they look on course to securing it this year. Their last UEFA Cup quest was in the 1983/84 season where they progressed into the third round before losing out to AC Sparta Prague.
The scene is set and it all depends who finishes seventh: if the Hornets beat City in the FA Cup final, they qualify for Europe no matter what happens elsewhere.
But if City win, then seventh place in the Premier League gets the spot. So if Watford can secure seventh then they are guaranteed to be in the Europa League next season, regardless of the FA Cup result.
Deulofeu shone again today, his inspired performance was the difference between the two teams as he netted the game-winning brace. It’s no secret that Deulofeu is a highly talented attacker. His youth saw him rise through the Barcelona ranks, playing for their U18 and U19’s sides.
Since then he has played for the Barcelona first team, AC Milan and Everton. An impressive history has seen him play with the likes of Lionel Messi, Leonardo Bonucci and Wayne Rooney. Back in the beginning of April his experience and talent was clear, as another brace helped Watford steer towards a remarkable comeback against Wolves in the FA Cup.
Given his vast experience and attacking impetus he could be pivotal for the Hornets in the Europa League next season.
The 21-year-old has only made six starts for the Terriers this season, but he is currently their leading goalscorer going into the final stages of the season.
Admittedly, you’d only need to score a hat-trick to become joint top scorer, but Grant has done exceedingly well considering his minimal time on the pitch. His impressive brace against West Ham was just his third start and he has looked a threat since.
His goal today showed his manager why he should be starting instead of making cameo appearances. It seems the youngster could feature heavily in the Championship next year if Town can hold onto him during the summer.
What’s next for both teams?
For Huddersfield, they’ve got a tough two weeks on the horizon. Their next two games are against Liverpool and then Manchester United, and based on today’s game, they could be in for some thrashings. Watford however, are getting to the business end of their season.
A huge clash against Wolves, in a week, will help determine who finishes in seventh place. Wolves are a point behind the Hornets and will be keen to dish out revenge after their cruel FA cup defeat. But before they face Wolves, Watford must see off Southampton in the midweek game to further cement their seventh-place finish.
Between Wolves and Watford are Leicester City, who are level on points with Wolves, so any slip up would potentially result in them squandering seventh place.
Man of the Match: Gerard Deulofeu
Today saw another fierce attacking display from the Spaniard who seems to be playing at his best in the Premier League. Deulofeu looked full of energy after missing out on last week’s game and constantly put the Terriers defence under pressure. On a different day, he could have easily had a hat-trick to his name, but his brace was enough and he was by far the best player on the pitch.