Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe delighted by Jermain Defoe’s impact
The England striker came off the bench to rescue a late point for the Cherries at Watford.
Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe was full of praise for “razor-sharp” Jermain Defoe after the veteran striker came off the bench to score a stoppage-time equaliser at Watford.
Roberto Pereyra’s strike early in the second half looked as though it would be enough to secure victory for the Hornets but Defoe struck late on as the visitors left Hertfordshire with a 2-2 draw.
Kiko Femenia had put Javi Gracia’s side ahead at Vicarage Road only for Bournemouth to equalise before half-time through Joshua King’s penalty.
Pereyra put the hosts back in front shortly after the interval, but Defoe turned home Nathan Ake’s flick-on in the dying embers to rescue a point for the Cherries.
Defoe, 35, has been used sparingly by Howe in recent weeks following his recovery from an ankle injury but the Bournemouth manager still believes the England international is a potent goal-threat.
“It was a massive goal from Jermain and a massive point for us,” Howe said after the game.
“It didn’t look like it was going to happen for us in the second half if I’m honest, but the character shone out – the never-say-die attitude – and we only needed one chance.
“It fell to the right person. There is no-one you want that to fall to other than Jermain, he a massive player for us.
“He’s got that ability to put himself in positions – he’s razor sharp as he’s always been in that respect. It was a finish of high-class and, at that stage of the game, absolutely priceless for us.”
Watford lead courtesy of Femenia’s deflected strike – his first goal for the club – but were pegged back as King steered home a penalty following Jose Holebas’ handball.
The hosts would go ahead once more as Pereyra tucked home after good work from the impressive Will Hughes, but boss Gracia was ultimately left frustrated.
“I can be disappointed with the result because we have lost two points in extra time, but I feel proud of my players, the team and the squad,” he said.
“We had twice been up on the score-sheet but the other team score in extra time. We need to improve many things but today I think we had different chances to score more goals.”
Locked together in mid-table, both sides could reach the 40-point mark with victories next weekend – Watford at home to Burnley and Bournemouth hosting struggling Crystal Palace.
But neither manager would be drawn on whether respective wins would mean they were safe from relegation.
“We have 37 points and I don’t know how many points you will need at the end of the season to remain in the Premier League,” Gracia said.
“Maybe this will be enough, but never mind about the points, I focus on the next three points and how to get them.”
Howe concurred with his counterpart, adding: “With six games to go we just want to get as many points as possible.”