Gracia delight as Watford end long wait for away win
The Hornets overcame Burnley 3-1 at Turf Moor to make it two wins in two this season.
Watford’s Javi Gracia was planning to savour the moment after finally experiencing his first away victory as a Premier League manager.
Sunday’s 3-1 success at Burnley ended a grim sequence of results on the road – 12 games without a win and eight in a row without a goal.
Andre Gray, Troy Deeney and Will Hughes all got on the scoresheet to bring that sorry chapter to a close at Turf Moor and make it two wins from two to kick off the campaign.
Watford’s away struggles pre-date Gracia’s arrival in January but he was left with a broad smile after belatedly finding a winning formula.
“I don’t like to look back at statistics from last season, I prefer to enjoy this moment,” he said.
“I’m very happy for the players. Today we scored three so we have done better than we did last season.
“For me it is always important to get a win but today is the first away win. Last season we had the chance to get points and score goals but we didn’t do it.”
The Hornets settled the game with early flurries in either half. Former Burnley striker Gray opened the scoring after just three minutes and, after James Tarkowski’s leveller, there were two more in the first five minutes of the second half.
Deeney restored the lead after Abdoulaye Doucoure’s defence-splitting pass and midfielder Will Hughes provided the exclamation point when he punished slack play from Matt Lowton with a blockbuster top-corner finish.
“Andre scored, Troy scored and that is important for our strikers, important for the team,” said Gracia.
“Will scored an outstanding goal so I am happy for all three of them.”
Opposite number Sean Dyche has flatly refused to use Europa League exertions as an excuse, though the fact this was Burnley’s sixth game of the season and Watford’s second could explain the hosts’ second-half struggles.
“That story started five months ago when we qualified,” he said when asked about the fatigue factor following Thursday’s 120-minute outing against Istanbul Basaksehir.
“That’s the challenge, it’s here and it’s real so we’ll get on with it.”
Dyche did feel aggrieved at a first-half challenge by Hughes on Stephen Ward, and claimed the goalscorer should have been sent off.
“The third one is obviously a poor pass and they capitalise on it but the lad who scores it shouldn’t be on the pitch at that time,” he said.
“These challenges used to happen every week when I was a player but they don’t happen anymore. I looked at that and thought he should go, but the referee didn’t.
“I’m four feet away from it and it’s fair to say I know the difference from my own career between a reasonable tackle and a bad tackle. That’s a bad tackle.
“I don’t mind firm tackles, but you can’t have that one because that could really hurt someone.”