(Reuters) – Crystal Palace scored two late goals to earn a precious 2-1 win over Watford that moved Roy Hodgson’s side out of the Premier League relegation zone yesterday.
Palace’s five-match unbeaten run seemed set to end and leave them bottom when Bakary Sako and James McArthur scored in quick succession after Watford’s Tom Cleverley was sent off.
Having lost their opening seven league games without scoring — an English top-flight record — Palace have been rejuvenated since Hodgson, 70, took charge and are now in 17th place on 14 points and out of the bottom three for the first time.
“We’ve got an awful long way to go but we are making a fist of it, former England manager Hodgson, who replaced the sacked Frank de Boer in September, said.
“I am really pleased with how hard the players are trying even when things aren’t going our way. When you win a game in the last minute it says a lot for the players’ character and it’s great for the fans. They go home as happy as we are.”
It was actually one of the worst Palace displays under Hodgson and Watford will be kicking themselves for not wrapping up the points before halftime.
The visitors went ahead after three minutes when Daryl Janmaat was given far too much space to head in Richarlison’s chipped cross at the back post.
Brazilian Richarlison was a menace throughout the first half and set up Troy Deeney with a gilt-edged chance before halftime but the striker somehow failed to make it 2-0.
Palace were better after the break but still not really threatening until Cleverley was sent off for a foul on Jeff Schlupp and the Selhurst Park faithful began to roar.
Wilfried Zaha had a hand in both of Palace’s goals, the first scored when Sako shinned the ball in after it came back to him from Watford keeper Heurelho Gomes’s close-range save.
Zaha then tricked his way past Janmaat on the left side of the box before picking out McArthur to score with a low shot.
Palace are now unbeaten in their last six league games and a point above the drop zone while Watford, who are in ninth place on 22 points, have taken one point from their last four matches.