Leicester beat Watford to reach 75-point mark

10 February 2024 0 By Total Football News

Patson Daka set Leicester on course for a 2-1 win against Watford at Vicarage Road that maintained their 11-point lead at the top of the Sky Bet Championship.

But Enzo Maresca’s side were grateful for the cushion provided by Ricardo Pereira’s second-half strike after a Harry Winks mistake gifted Emmanuel Dennis the chance to fire up hopes of a Hornets comeback.

Daka converted a 10th-minute penalty for his third goal in three games since returning from Africa Cup of Nations duty with Zambia.

And the Foxes stood firm to protect their lead after Winks’ misplaced pass allowed Dennis to score his first goal since returning to Watford on loan from Nottingham Forest last month.

Watford came into the game having failed to score in their three previous outings – and without a goal from open play in five games.

But they were soon forced to rethink their forward plans when striker Vakoun Bayo pulled up just 75 seconds into the game.

Maresca’s side assumed control, displaying the confidence expected from a side with such a commanding lead at the top of the table.

And it took them just 10 minutes to make the break after Dennis Praet outwitted Giorgi Chakvetadze to win a 10th-minute penalty.

The Foxes midfielder broke into the box to collect a pass before cutting inside Chakvetadze who stuck out a trailing leg.

Referee Oliver Langford immediately pointed to the spot and Daka beat goalkeeper Ben Hamer with a powerful low shot.

Watford had made little impression on the game at that point and might have found themselves two down had Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall not shot over the bar after being set up by Daka.

Valerien Ismael’s side did manage to grow into the game as the half progressed and finally managed to test Leicester keeper Mads Hermansen when Wesley Hoedt shot from long range in the 33rd minute.

That proved to be a rare moment of threat from the home side in the first half but they had shown signs of developing some momentum before the break.

Leicester once again took the initiative at the start of the second half.

And Maresca’s men doubled their lead 10 minutes after the restart when Pereira slotted home after a sweeping counter-attack.

The move was started by Hermansen and, when the ball was rolled out to Pereira, the Foxes skipper was allowed to run from deep before exchanging passes with Abdul Fatawu and placing his finish beyond Hamer.

Watford almost responded immediately when Ken Sema’s left-wing cross was deflected dangerously close to his own goal by Leicester defender Wout Faes.

But it was an even more glaring error that gifted them the 63rd-minute strike that fired up hopes of a home comeback.

Hermansen played the ball out to Winks, who completely miscued a first-time pass and succeeded only in finding Dennis, who was standing unmarked by the penalty spot and finished into an empty net.

Watford pressed for an equaliser but were unable to prevent Leicester from seeing out a third successive league win.

The managers

Watford’s Valerien Ismael:

“I’m really proud of the players and pleased with the performance and mentality they showed.

“In this game, you saw we had bad luck. After one minute, Bayo was injured and we needed to change the plan. After that, a soft penalty. I’ve been many years in English football and that was a soft penalty.

“Even when 1-0 down, we were disciplined and we were aggressive.

“I said at half-time it was still 1-0, and we had to be patient. It would have been wrong to have lost our heads and pushed too much.

“We had two or three situations on the edge of the box when we should have taken one or both to get back into the game.”

Leicester’s Enzo Maresca:

“We got three points and yes we are happy because it has been a complete performance in terms of we play when we have to play.

“And we suffered together, after the goals we conceded we lost a bit of confidence but overall I’m happy.

“It has been a complete performance because when we needed to play, we played the way we want to play. It’s part of the season we are trying to change some things.

“I can understand that the only thing that people can see is just get promoted. But for me get promoted is just at this moment.

“This was a club in transition last summer with lots of important players leaving.

“There are many more thing we have done. But I can understand the focus is on promotion, but we are changing many things.”

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