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Watford 1-1 Newcastle: Javi Gracia says he was right to make changes as his side scrape draw

By Saj ChowdhuryBBC Sport
Salomon Rondon (second right) heads in for Newcastle
Salomon Rondon (second right) headed in for Newcastle for his fifth goal of the season

Javi Gracia defended his decision to start key players on the bench as his Watford side left it late to salvage a point against Newcastle.

With the Hornets a goal down following Salomon Rondon's 29th-minute header, Gracia brought on skipper Troy Deeney and midfielder Abdoulaye Doucoure, who headed in the equaliser eight minutes from time.

The Watford manager made six changes to his starting XI as his side played a third Premier League game in eight days.

When asked if that was too many he said: "If you see the result you can say that, but I don't agree.

Watford believed until the end - Gracia

"I think we started well, created good chances, clear chances and we didn't take them. After that, we knew the game would be very demanding for us but after conceding the goal it was even more difficult.

"At the end, I am happy with my players, maybe the game could have a different result but after seeing the game I am happy with our behaviour and how we are believing until the end."

The Hornets had dominated possession during the match but found it difficult to create chances against the Magpies, who took the lead when Rondon nodded in. The Venezuelan striker also had two goals disallowed for offside, although the first decision was marginal.

Watford finally breached Newcastle's last line of defence in the 82nd minute when Doucoure powered home from Gerard Deulofeu's right-wing cross.

Forward Isaac Success was impressive in attack for the home side, and went close when his goal-bound shot was brilliantly blocked by Federico Fernandez.

Watford rotation just about pays off

Isaac Success
Isaac Success was frustrated the Newcastle defence at Vicarage Road

Gracia's decision to make six changes to his starting line-up seemed a poor choice during a match in which his side showed good intent but not much more.

Newcastle packed the area in front of the defence and left Rondon up on his own, making it doubly difficult for the home side to find a route into the area.

When they did pierce the 18-yard box they were met by unflinching resistance, with Gerard Deulofeu denied by the foot of keeper Martin Dubravka before Success saw his shot deflected wide by Fernandez.

Watford looked increasingly less likely to find an equaliser as the match approached the final throws, but then up popped Doucoure.

The 25-year-old has scored some brilliant goals for the Hornets, but this was a simple in its execution from Deulofeu's delivery.

The point moves Watford up to ninth spot with 28 points from 20 games.

Rondon honours number nine shirt

Salomon Rondon touchmap
Salomon Rondon's touchmap showed he made the most of his few opportunities in the area

The Venezuelan's display at Vicarage Road was reminiscent of another striker who once graced the Newcastle number nine shirt.

The club's all-time leading scorer Alan Shearer will no doubt be one of many unrestrained in their praise of a performance that almost earned the Magpies a valuable victory in a stuttering season.

Rondon, on loan from West Brom, held the ball up well, brought others into play, was a handful in the Watford box and should have come away from Vicarage Road with more than his one goal.

Aside from his first-half header from Matt Ritchie's cross, he also had two other efforts ruled out for offside - the first debatable with former Magpie Daryl Janmaat appearing to have played him onside as the striker broke away.

Next up, it is Manchester United at home for Rondon and the Magpies.

Man of the match - Salomon Rondon (Newcastle)

Salomon Rondon
An excellent all-around forward's display by Newcastle's on-loan striker

'We can get the miracle done' - reaction

Newcastle can compete with anyone - Benitez

Newcastle manager Rafael Benitez responding to last week's statement when he said his side would need a "miracle" to beat the drop:

"I was very clear today with the way the team was performing is the way we can get the miracle done.

"This group of players were playing really well and doing really well. We have to realise that for us the key has to be the team effort.

"Every player giving 100%. In the first-half they did well but after their substitutions they had better players, at least on paper, and that happens in the Premier League."

Deulofeu in good form - the stats

  • Watford have drawn a Premier League match at home for the first time since April, having won six and lost five of their last 11 matches before today.
  • Newcastle have won just one of their last seven league games (D3 L3), but won three in a row prior to this recent run.
  • Watford have only picked up nine points from their last 10 Premier League matches (P10 W2 D3 L5), this is 10 points fewer than from the preceding 10 games (P10 W6 D1 L3 - 19 points).
  • Despite conceding late, Newcastle have only lost one of their last six away games in the top-flight (W2 D3), this after suffering five defeats in the previous seven matches on their travels.
  • Deulofeu has had a direct hand in four goals in his last four Premier League games (two goals, two assists), as many goal involvements as in his previous 36 games combined.
  • Rondon has scored five goals in his last eight Premier League matches, as many strikes as in his previous 30 games in the competition.

What's next?

Watford are at Bournemouth on Wednesday (19:45 GMT) and Newcastle host Manchester United (20:00 GMT) on the same day.



Formation 4-2-2-2

  • 26Foster
  • 2Janmaat
  • 6Mariappa
  • 15Cathcart
  • 11MasinaBooked at 44minsSubstituted forHolebasat 78'minutes
  • 20QuinaSubstituted forDoucouréat 54'minutes
  • 29Capoue
  • 19HughesSubstituted forDeeneyat 54'minutes
  • 37Pereyra
  • 7Deulofeu
  • 10Success


  • 1Gomes
  • 3Britos
  • 8Cleverley
  • 9Deeney
  • 12Sema
  • 16Doucouré
  • 25Holebas


Formation 5-4-1

  • 12Dubravka
  • 22YedlinBooked at 66mins
  • 18FernandezSubstituted forSchärat 45'minutesBooked at 90mins
  • 6Lascelles
  • 3Dummett
  • 11Ritchie
  • 17Pérez
  • 14HaydenSubstituted forShelveyat 79'minutes
  • 10Diamé
  • 30Atsu
  • 9Rondón


  • 5Schär
  • 7Murphy
  • 8Shelvey
  • 13Muto
  • 19Manquillo
  • 21Joselu
  • 41Woodman
Roger East

Match Stats

Home TeamWatfordAway TeamNewcastle
Shots on Target

Live Text

  1. Post update

    Match ends, Watford 1, Newcastle United 1.

  2. Full Time

    Second Half ends, Watford 1, Newcastle United 1.

  3. Post update

    Attempt missed. Jamaal Lascelles (Newcastle United) header from the right side of the box is close, but misses to the right. Assisted by Jonjo Shelvey following a set piece situation.

  4. Post update

    Foul by Craig Cathcart (Watford).

  5. Post update

    Christian Atsu (Newcastle United) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

  6. Post update

    Attempt saved. Isaac Success (Watford) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Troy Deeney with a headed pass.

  7. Post update

    Offside, Watford. Gerard Deulofeu tries a through ball, but Abdoulaye Doucouré is caught offside.

  8. Booking

    Fabian Schär (Newcastle United) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

  9. Post update

    Isaac Success (Watford) wins a free kick on the left wing.

  10. Post update

    Foul by Fabian Schär (Newcastle United).

  11. Post update

    Corner, Newcastle United. Conceded by José Holebas.

  12. Post update

    Foul by Isaac Success (Watford).

  13. Post update

    DeAndre Yedlin (Newcastle United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  14. Post update

    Attempt missed. DeAndre Yedlin (Newcastle United) right footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the left. Assisted by Salomón Rondón.

  15. Post update

    Foul by Adrian Mariappa (Watford).

  16. Post update

    Salomón Rondón (Newcastle United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  17. Post update

    Foul by José Holebas (Watford).

  18. Post update

    Ayoze Pérez (Newcastle United) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

  19. Post update

    Attempt missed. Isaac Success (Watford) left footed shot from the centre of the box is too high following a set piece situation.

  20. Post update

    Etienne Capoue (Watford) wins a free kick on the left wing.


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