West Ham vs Watford: Walter Mazzarri insists comeback was due to Hornets' tactics and not Hammers mistakes

West Ham United 2-4 Watford: Slaven Bilic said the goals they conceded were 'too easy'

Etienne Capoue put Watford 3-2 ahead
Etienne Capoue put Watford 3-2 ahead

A 60,000-seat stadium can look very empty indeed when most of the crowd leaves ten minutes before the final whistle. The tens of thousands of vacated places will not have looked good to the West Ham owners who could not wait to leave the Boleyn Ground for the former Olympic Stadium, but they were a testament to a remarkable display of heart and resilience from Watford.

On paper this looked like another tough task for Walter Mazzarri's new team among a series of challenging early-season fixtures. But their third successive match against a London side turned out to be their most rewarding, even if they secured their first victory of the season the hard way – going two goals down before scoring four without reply.

Odion Ighalo and Troy Deeney, who scored 28 league goals between them for Watford last season but had not found the net in the league before yesterday, each got off the mark to pull their team back from a 2-0 deficit before half-time. Then Etienne Capoue scored his third of the campaign to give them a lead that they extended to 4-2 with Jose Holebas' first goal in England.

“On the defensive level we were very afraid, mainly because West Ham played well and put pressure on us,” Mazzarri said. “But we had a couple of opportunities and we adjusted a couple of things at half-time and it went our way. In other games we've had opportunities but they didn't go in. And we won because of what we did, not West Ham's mistakes. It will give us a lot of confidence.”

Early on it looked as though West Ham would be celebrating the return of Dimitri Payet. Still feeling the effects of France's run to the European Championship final, Payet made only a brief appearance in the opening Premier League game of the season, and then he succumbed to a thigh injury. Here he created two first-half goals for Michail Antonio, the second with a 'rabona' cross that few would have attempted, let alone pulled off.

But then things went wrong for West Ham, and there were also reports of crowd trouble, both between rival sets of supporters and among home fans who objected to being told to sit down. “It's hard to explain,” Slaven Bilic, the West Ham manager, said of his team's collapse. “The goals were too easy. We had a good 40 minutes and if anyone looked like scoring a third it was us. But if we defend like this we are not going to win many games. I am very angry.”

Odion Ighalo scored Watford's first goal of the game

West Ham took the lead after five minutes when Antonio escaped his markers to glance Payet's corner from the left and past Gomes. Watford seemed shaken and Daryl Janmaat backpassed Antonio's low cross against his own post. But there were warnings for West Ham too. Ighalo took too long to get the influential Roberto Pereyra's gift of a pass under control and Arthur Masuaka was able to clear. And then Pereyra crossed low from the right and Ighalo's first-time shot blocked was by Adrian.

Then it went quiet until the 33rd minute when Payet lit up rainy Stratford with invention of the highest quality, crossing with his right foot behind his left heel to give Antonio the simple task of stooping to head home from a yard. Watford appealed for offside, with some justification, but it was marginal and a goal created by supreme artistry was allowed to stand.

But Watford recovered and halved the arrears when Ighalo cut inside Sam Byram rather too easily and his shot was deflected past Adrian by the knee of James Collins. “It came from a very predictable attack,” Bilic said. “They should have to do something better to hurt us.” And in first-half injury time, a communication breakdown in the heart of the West Ham defence presented Watford with the equaliser. Collins nodded a bouncing ball away from Adrian, Deeney collected it and, with the goalkeeper out of his ground, curled it sweetly into the top far corner.

Eight minutes into the restart, Watford were ahead as Capoue was left free at the far post to rifle the ball home. It was almost identical to his goal against Chelsea and was not only his third of the season but his third in three seasons, in fact, after two barren Premier League campaigns.

And it got even worse for West Ham after 63 minutes. Watford left wing-back Holebas challenged Payet and referee Martin Atkinson ignored appeals for a foul. Play went on and when Ighalo cut the ball back from the left, Holebas was on the edge of the penalty area to send a left-foot shot low under Adrian's left hand.

The rush for the exits soon got under way, which was hardly a vote of confidence in the team. The only crowded section at the end contained the visiting fans, and they celebrated loud and long, as they had every right to do.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in