Premier League
Crystal PalaceCrystal Palace2WatfordWatford1

Crystal Palace 2-1 Watford

By Matthew HenryBBC Sport
Crystal Palace celebrate
Crystal Palace's two late goals came just minutes after Watford went down to 10 men

Manager Roy Hodgson said Crystal Palace's problems are far from over despite two late goals in a dramatic win over Watford moving them out of the Premier League relegation zone for the first time this season.

The game turned when Watford's Tom Cleverley was sent off for a second yellow card in the 87th minute, setting up a breathtaking finale.

Bakary Sako bundled in an equaliser two minutes later before James McArthur snatched the winner in the second minute of stoppage time, side-footing home from Wilfried Zaha's cross.

The Hornets had looked comfortable until that point after Daryl Janmaat had given visitors the lead after just three minutes.

The victory for Hodgson's Palace extends their unbeaten run to six games and sees them climb above West Brom into 17th place in the table.

"The moment we think our problems are over is the moment our problems will begin," Hodgson said.

"We have a mountain to climb and it's wonderful to win but we're still very close to the bottom of the table because we haven't quite made up from getting zero points from the first seven games."

Palace could return to the bottom three on Wednesday with the teams below them - West Brom, West Ham and Swansea - all in action.

A late, late show for Palace

Crystal Palace celebrate
Crystal Palace had been in the relegation zone ever since losing 3-0 to Huddersfield on the opening day of the season

Having spent the entire season in the bottom three, and scoring no goals and collecting no points in their opening seven fixtures, the night looked like being yet another frustrating one for Palace where an opportunity would be missed.

They had lacked real threat in the final third and did not have a shot on target until an effort from Zaha inside the final five minutes.

But when Cleverley was dismissed for a late foul on Jeff Schlupp, life was breathed into the game and the home fans roared their side on in anticipation.

The equaliser was fortunate. Sako's initial shot from close range rebounded off Watford goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes, back on to the forward's shins and into the net but the winner came at the end of an excellent move.

Zaha - a threat but occasionally wasteful throughout - showed great trickery to beat Janmaat on the left side of the box before squaring to McArthur who swept home low beyond Gomes.

Hodgson enjoying 'stressful' Palace job

The result unsurprisingly led to wild celebrations at the final whistle as the players and fans enjoyed a third win of the season.

"It is a huge three points. Where we are in the table every three points is unbelievably worked for," Hodgson said.

All three of Palace's wins have come under Hodgson, who replaced Frank de Boer after four games, and the former England boss now has 14 points from 13 matches.

The Eagles were six points from safety following defeat to Tottenham on 5 November but have now dealt a psychological blow to their rivals at the bottom of the table.

"It is stressful but if I didn't think I was able to take that stress then I wouldn't have taken up the offer to come and work at this club," Hodgson added.

Watford rue Cleverley red

Tom Cleverley sent off
Watford have had players sent off in three matches this season and have failed to win all three

Watford manager Marco Silva said he found the result "hard to believe" at full-time, pointing to frustration that his side had not killed the game off when they were clearly on top.

"If you want to fight in football and take the points you deserve you have to play for 95 minutes," Silva said. "We did everything well until 90 minutes.

"We were leading but 1-0 is not enough."

The red card was the moment the match turned and the Portuguese did not argue with the decision to send off Cleverley, who lunged in on Schlupp when already on a yellow card.

Instead, Silva claimed Palace's Patrick van Aanholt should have been dismissed for his tackle from behind on Roberto Pereyra two minutes earlier, for which he was shown yellow.

The visitors started the game strongly and capitalised on poor defending for their early goal as Janmaat headed in Richarlison's excellent cross unchallenged at the back post.

Hornets skipper Troy Deeney missed a glorious chance in the 30th minute when he poked wide from six yards, although Palace defender Scott Dann did get a slight touch on the cross from Richarlison.

Richarlison himself later failed to convert an excellent second-half opportunity when his shot from inside the area was blocked by the legs of Palace goalkeeper Julian Speroni.

In the end, however, Watford were again left rueing the cost of indiscipline.

The Hornets have now received eight red cards since the start of the 2016-17 season, more than any other club, and it is a "real problem" according to their manager.

Cleverley red card was key moment - Silva

Man of the match - Wilfried Zaha

Wilfried Zaha
Wilfried Zaha had a frustating game for 89 minutes but then had a hand in both Palace goals to earn a crucial victory for his side

The best stats

  • Palace have picked up 10 points from their last six Premier League games, as many as they managed from their previous 17 in the competition.
  • The Eagles find themselves out of the relegation zone for the first time since the very first day of the 2017/18 Premier League season (11/08/2017).
  • Julian Speroni made his 400th appearance for Crystal Palace in all competitions, 4,868 days since his debut for the Eagles (14/08/2004).
  • Richarlison has had a hand in eight away Premier League goals (4 goals, 4 assists), a joint-high this season with Mohamed Salah (7 goals, 1 assist).

What's next?

Crystal Palace travel to in-form Leicester on Saturday (12:30 GMT). Watford return to Vicarage Road on Saturday following back-to-back away games and host Huddersfield (15:00).


Crystal Palace

Formation 4-4-2

  • 1Speroni
  • 24Fosu-MensahSubstituted forSakoat 70'minutes
  • 5Tomkins
  • 6Dann
  • 15Schlupp
  • 10TownsendSubstituted forvan Aanholtat 67'minutesBooked at 85mins
  • 7CabayeSubstituted forMcArthurat 77'minutes
  • 4MilivojevicBooked at 63mins
  • 8Loftus-Cheek
  • 11Zaha
  • 17Benteke


  • 3van Aanholt
  • 13Hennessey
  • 14Lee
  • 18McArthur
  • 26Sako
  • 34Kelly
  • 44Riedewald


Formation 3-4-2-1

  • 1Gomes
  • 6Mariappa
  • 5Prödl
  • 27Kabasele
  • 2Janmaat
  • 8CleverleyBooked at 87mins
  • 16Doucouré
  • 25Holebas
  • 28CarrilloSubstituted forPereyraat 71'minutesBooked at 90mins
  • 11RicharlisonSubstituted forFemeníaat 84'minutesSubstituted forat 90+6'minutes
  • 9DeeneySubstituted forGrayat 80'minutes


  • 10Success
  • 18Gray
  • 21Femenía
  • 23Watson
  • 29Capoue
  • 30Karnezis
  • 37Pereyra
Lee Mason

Match Stats

Home TeamCrystal PalaceAway TeamWatford
Shots on Target

Live Text

  1. Post update

    Match ends, Crystal Palace 2, Watford 1.

  2. Full Time

    Second Half ends, Crystal Palace 2, Watford 1.

  3. Post update

    Kiko Femenía went off injured after Watford had used all subs.

  4. Post update

    Corner, Crystal Palace. Conceded by Roberto Pereyra.

  5. Post update

    Ruben Loftus-Cheek (Crystal Palace) wins a free kick on the right wing.

  6. Post update

    Foul by José Holebas (Watford).

  7. Post update

    Ruben Loftus-Cheek (Crystal Palace) wins a free kick on the right wing.

  8. Post update

    Foul by José Holebas (Watford).

  9. Post update

    Jeffrey Schlupp (Crystal Palace) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

  10. Post update

    Foul by Abdoulaye Doucouré (Watford).

  11. Goal!

    Goal! Crystal Palace 2, Watford 1. James McArthur (Crystal Palace) left footed shot from the centre of the box to the bottom right corner.

  12. Booking

    Roberto Pereyra (Watford) is shown the yellow card.

  13. Post update

    Patrick van Aanholt (Crystal Palace) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  14. Post update

    Foul by Roberto Pereyra (Watford).

  15. Goal!

    Goal! Crystal Palace 1, Watford 1. Bakary Sako (Crystal Palace) right footed shot from the centre of the box to the centre of the goal.

  16. Post update

    Attempt saved. Bakary Sako (Crystal Palace) left footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal.

  17. Post update

    Attempt saved. Wilfried Zaha (Crystal Palace) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Scott Dann.

  18. Dismissal

    Second yellow card to Tom Cleverley (Watford) for a bad foul.

  19. Post update

    Jeffrey Schlupp (Crystal Palace) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  20. Post update

    Foul by Tom Cleverley (Watford).


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