Watford maintain winning start after seeing off Crystal Palace
Wilfried Zaha became Crystal Palace’s leading Premier League goalscorer.
Watford’s winning start to the season continued with a 2-1 home victory over Crystal Palace after Etienne Capoue had been fortunate to avoid a red card.
The midfielder escaped with only a yellow for an early foul on Wilfried Zaha before creating Roberto Pereyra’s third goal of the season.
A fortunate second from Jose Holebas, which appeared to be an overhit cross, then secured Watford’s third victory from three on a disappointing afternoon for their visitors, who scored late on through Zaha.
The hosts could have been reduced to 10 men early on, however, when Capoue appeared to deliberately rake the Achilles of Zaha in just the fourth minute under the nose of referee Anthony Taylor, who only gave a yellow card.
The Palace forward, who had been booked on his previous two trips to Vicarage Road, was then booked almost immediately after for a challenge on Holebas having shrugged Capoue’s off.
It was Andros Townsend who proved Palace’s greatest attacking threat, crossing from the right to provide close-range heading opportunities for Christian Benteke, who first missed the target and then forced a fine save from Ben Foster.
Townsend then played James McArthur in in front of goal, but after the midfielder controlled possession to leave him with only Foster to beat he struck low and straight at the goalkeeper.
Pereyra, who scored twice in the 2-0 victory over Brighton on the season’s opening weekend, had the hosts’ first chances when he saw one shot deflect wide and another saved by Wayne Hennessey as they gathered some momentum.
24 - Wilfried Zaha is now Crystal Palace's top scorer in Premier League history (24), overtaking Chris Armstrong who netted 23 goals in the competition for the Eagles. Inspired. pic.twitter.com/pYKNcBZsH1— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) August 26, 2018
The pressure increased as Daryl Janmaat went similarly close on the stroke of half-time but his stabbed effort, after Andre Gray laid the ball off to him towards the edge of the area, went narrowly wide of the left post.
Perhaps inevitably it was Capoue who in the 53rd minute created the game’s opening goal.
After resisting two challenges in midfield to play in Pereyra towards the left wing, he watched as his classy team-mate beat Townsend, opened up his body and from the edge of the area curled into the far, bottom right corner.
Benteke again went close after turning and shooting just wide of the top right corner after controlling with his chest but, with play remaining balanced, in the 71st minute Holebas effectively secured all three points.
After receiving possession out wide from Janmaat, he took a touch to move beyond Townsend and was fortunate when what appeared a cross curled into the top right corner and beyond Hennessey’s reach.
Zaha gave Palace renewed belief in the 78th minute with his second goal of the season, even it ultimately led to little. Having played a one-two with substitute Max Meyer he ran the ball down the left wing, moved into the area and sent a powerful finish under Foster.
The chance Palace needed eventually arrived in stoppage time, but from directly in front of goal, Joel Ward headed just wide of the right post.