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Fulham 1-1 Watford: Hosts strike back after disastrous early concession

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Fulham 1-1 Watford: Cottagers deserved a point - Slavisa Jokanovic

Watford had to settle for a draw at Fulham after Aleksandar Mitrovic struck late on to earn the hosts a point.

The Hornets punished a poor start by Fulham as Andre Gray sidefooted home inside 90 seconds and the visitors, who won their first four Premier League games of the season, dominated the first half.

Gray was denied by Fulham goalkeeper Marcus Bettinelli either side of the break and Watford paid for their wasted chances as an improved second-half performance by the hosts saw them draw level through Mitrovic's equaliser on 78 minutes.

The Serb twice went close to claiming a late winner for the Cottagers, including a header against the crossbar, although that would have been hard on Watford, who had looked well on course to return to winning ways after losing to Manchester United last Saturday.

Despite Fulham missing out on only their second league win since returning to the top flight, their coach Slavisa Jokanovic will be encouraged by the way his side tightened up after the break.

Fulham defence in disarray

Alfie Mawson fouls Roberto Pereyra
Alfie Mawson was booked for this foul on Roberto Pereyra before he and Kevin McDonald were substituted at half-time

Jokanovic, who left Watford shortly after leading them into the Premier League in 2015, has named a different back four for each game this season and it showed as their defence was again in disarray in the first half.

The Cottagers have the worst defensive record in the league and for the second week running they conceded inside two minutes, wasting four chances to clear following a tame throw-in.

Watford defender Christian Kabasele also enjoyed a free run at Jose Holebas' corner, with his header blocked by Ryan Sessegnon, before Alfie Mawson endured a miserable first half.

The summer signing from Swansea misjudged two headers, gifting chances to Gray and Roberto Pereyra, before being booked and surviving a penalty appeal for a clumsy sliding challenge on Will Hughes. Jokanovic put Mawson out of his misery by making a double substitution at half-time.

Fulham's only chance of the first half saw Luciano Vietto test Ben Foster on the counter-attack before curling the rebound wide.

Top scorer Mitrovic then came to the fore, heading over from an Andre Schurrle cross before tapping in from Vietto's square ball to claim his fifth goal of the season.

Had his late shot beaten Foster, or his header from the resulting corner dropped a few inches lower, it would have given Fulham a victory they did not deserve.

Consistency key for Watford

Aleksandar Mitrovic scores for Fulham against Watford
Mitrovic's equaliser means Fulham have lost just one of their past 19 home league games, including play-offs (won 14, drawn four)

Despite seeing their surprise 100% start ended by Manchester United, Watford coach Javi Gracia named an unchanged team, and in doing so the Hornets became just the fifth team to name the same starting XI for their first six games of a Premier League season (after Leeds 1992-93, Tottenham 1994-95, Liverpool 1996-97 and Aston Villa 2008-09).

The visiting fans were hoping to see their side bounce back from defeat by Manchester United and show that their positive start was not just a matter of catching their early-season opponents flat-footed - and Watford were soon in their stride.

After some poor defending by Fulham, Hughes pounced on the loose ball on the edge of the box and played in Gray to slot into the bottom corner for his third goal of the season.

Organised at the back and comfortable on the ball in midfield, they also had the outlet of in-form strike pair Gray and Troy Deeney, who held the ball up for their supporting team-mates as well as proving a constant menace to Fulham centre-halves Mawson and Calum Chambers.

Another Gray effort looped behind off Bettinelli after the striker latched on to Mawson's poor header, and Pereyra curled a shot wide before Gray's second-half shot was saved by Bettinelli.

Even after the equaliser, Watford substitute Isaac Success was denied by Bettinelli, and when Mitrovic twice went close at the death, it was the only time the Hornets defence was struggling.

Overall, they were a well-drilled unit and if Gracia has the luxury of keeping a settled side, they should be confident of improving on last season's 14th-place finish.

Man of the match - Will Hughes (Watford)

Alfie Mawson challenges Will Hughes
Hughes showed energy and enterprise in midfield, making 25 passes, having a strong penalty appeal turned down and creating two chances - including Gray's goal - before being replaced on 70 minutes

'We couldn't control Deeney' - what they said

Fulham coach Slavisa Jokanovic: "I believe we deserved a point. We started the game sloppily and conceded a goal easily. We were a little confused and didn't find our game. Troy Deeney caused us many damages and we didn't find a way to control him.

"They could have scored more but in the second 45 minutes we moved some players. The team showed a different approach and started to move the ball better. I believe the result is fair and we must keep going forward.

"Mitrovic played well. It wouldn't be easy against the Watford centre-backs but he found the chance to score the goal. He must keep going and he is an important player for us."

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Fulham 1-1 Watford: Hornets had to kill the game - Gracia

Watford coach Javi Gracia: "After we scored in the first minutes and after a good first half, all of us thought we would be able to get three points. At the end of the game they scored.

"We played much better in the first half when we had to kill the game and score another goal. We had the chances to do it. In the second they changed their shape and we tried to keep the high press and we suffered a bit.

"We tried to keep the same level of intensity and ambition. The players feel really bad. They are hungry, they want to win and have made a very big effort today. They played really well in the first half. That is what we want to keep for the rest of the season."

Mitrovic on fire - the stats

  • This was Fulham's 500th match in the Premier League, making them the 15th team to reach the milestone.
  • Watford are without a win on their past nine Premier League visits to London, their draw against Fulham coming after eight consecutive defeats.
  • Gray's goal, timed at one minute 27 seconds, was the quickest in the Premier League since 10 March 2018 (Kenedy for Newcastle v Southampton, 1:03).
  • Gray's goal (1:27) was also Watford's second quickest in the Premier League after Etienne Capoue against Leicester in November 2016 (32 seconds).
  • Since his debut for Fulham in February 2018, Aleksandar Mitrovic has scored 17 goals in English league football, more than any other player.

What's next?

Fulham make the short trip to Millwall in the Carabao Cup on Tuesday (19:45 BST) before returning to Premier League action at Everton next Saturday (15:00).

Watford have another two London derbies over the next week, at Tottenham in the Carabao Cup on Wednesday (20:00) - with the game to be played at Milton Keynes - and at Arsenal in the league on Saturday (15:00).

Line-ups

Fulham

  • 1Bettinelli
  • 21Fosu-MensahBooked at 32mins
  • 26MawsonBooked at 30minsSubstituted forOdoiat 45'minutes
  • 5Chambers
  • 3R Sessegnon
  • 8JohansenSubstituted forZambo Anguissaat 64'minutes
  • 6McDonaldSubstituted forAyitéat 45'minutes
  • 24Seri
  • 19Vietto
  • 9Mitrovic
  • 14Schürrle

Substitutes

  • 4Odoi
  • 11Ayité
  • 20Le Marchand
  • 22Christie
  • 25Rico
  • 29Zambo Anguissa
  • 47Kamara

Watford

  • 26Foster
  • 2Janmaat
  • 15Cathcart
  • 27Kabasele
  • 25HolebasBooked at 58mins
  • 16Doucouré
  • 29Capoue
  • 19HughesSubstituted forFemeníaat 70'minutes
  • 37PereyraSubstituted forSemaat 90'minutes
  • 18GraySubstituted forSuccessat 80'minutes
  • 9Deeney

Substitutes

  • 1Gomes
  • 6Mariappa
  • 10Success
  • 11Masina
  • 12Sema
  • 14Chalobah
  • 21Femenía
Referee:
Martin Atkinson
Attendance:
23,418

Match Stats

Home TeamFulhamAway TeamWatford
Possession
Home61%
Away39%
Shots
Home15
Away11
Shots on Target
Home3
Away6
Corners
Home8
Away8
Fouls
Home11
Away9

Live Text

Match ends, Fulham 1, Watford 1.

Full Time

Second Half ends, Fulham 1, Watford 1.

Foul by Aleksandar Mitrovic (Fulham).

Christian Kabasele (Watford) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Corner, Fulham. Conceded by Daryl Janmaat.

Offside, Fulham. Calum Chambers tries a through ball, but Aleksandar Mitrovic is caught offside.

Attempt missed. Isaac Success (Watford) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the left.

Substitution

Substitution, Watford. Ken Sema replaces Roberto Pereyra.

Aleksandar Mitrovic (Fulham) hits the bar with a header from the right side of the six yard box. Assisted by Jean Michael Seri with a cross following a corner.

Corner, Fulham. Conceded by Ben Foster.

Attempt saved. Aleksandar Mitrovic (Fulham) left footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom left corner. Assisted by Luciano Vietto.

Offside, Fulham. Ryan Sessegnon tries a through ball, but André Schürrle is caught offside.

Corner, Watford. Conceded by Marcus Bettinelli.

Attempt saved. Isaac Success (Watford) left footed shot from a difficult angle on the left is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Abdoulaye Doucouré.

Offside, Watford. José Holebas tries a through ball, but Roberto Pereyra is caught offside.

Offside, Watford. Ben Foster tries a through ball, but Isaac Success is caught offside.

Substitution

Substitution, Watford. Isaac Success replaces Andre Gray.

Foul by Luciano Vietto (Fulham).

Craig Cathcart (Watford) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Goal!

Goal! Fulham 1, Watford 1. Aleksandar Mitrovic (Fulham) right footed shot from very close range to the centre of the goal. Assisted by Luciano Vietto.

Attempt blocked. André Schürrle (Fulham) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Jean Michael Seri.

Delay over. They are ready to continue.

Delay in match Ryan Sessegnon (Fulham) because of an injury.

Corner, Watford. Conceded by Timothy Fosu-Mensah.

Attempt blocked. Calum Chambers (Fulham) right footed shot from the left side of the box is blocked. Assisted by André-Frank Zambo Anguissa.

Attempt missed. André-Frank Zambo Anguissa (Fulham) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the left following a corner.

Corner, Fulham. Conceded by Kiko Femenía.

Attempt blocked. André Schürrle (Fulham) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Jean Michael Seri.

Substitution

Substitution, Watford. Kiko Femenía replaces Will Hughes.

Foul by André-Frank Zambo Anguissa (Fulham).

Troy Deeney (Watford) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Offside, Fulham. Timothy Fosu-Mensah tries a through ball, but Aleksandar Mitrovic is caught offside.

Attempt missed. Aleksandar Mitrovic (Fulham) header from the centre of the box misses to the right. Assisted by Jean Michael Seri with a cross following a corner.

Corner, Fulham. Conceded by Christian Kabasele.

Attempt missed. Troy Deeney (Watford) right footed shot from the centre of the box misses to the left. Assisted by Will Hughes.

Substitution

Substitution, Fulham. André-Frank Zambo Anguissa replaces Stefan Johansen.

Attempt blocked. Aleksandar Mitrovic (Fulham) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by André Schürrle.

Attempt missed. José Holebas (Watford) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the left.

Corner, Fulham. Conceded by Daryl Janmaat.

Attempt blocked. Aleksandar Mitrovic (Fulham) header from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Timothy Fosu-Mensah with a cross.

goal

As It Stood

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Liverpool66001421218
2Man City65101931616
3Chelsea55001441015
4Watford6411116513
5Tottenham6402127512
6Man Utd631299010
7Bournemouth63121011-110
8Leicester6303111019
9Arsenal530210919
10Wolves62316609
11Crystal Palace621346-27
12Everton513189-16
13Brighton6123811-35
14Southampton612369-35
15Fulham6123813-55
16Burnley6114710-34
17West Ham5104511-63
18Newcastle602448-42
19Cardiff6024314-112
20Huddersfield6024314-112
View full Premier League table

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