Roy Hodgson boosted by Watford’s resilience with ‘killer games’ to come

Cucho Hernandez hit a second-half brace to draw the Hornets level on points with 17th-placed Everton

Roy Hodgson claimed his second win as Watford boss away to Southampton (Kieran Cleeves/PA)
Roy Hodgson claimed his second win as Watford boss away to Southampton (Kieran Cleeves/PA)

Roy Hodgson hailed Watford’s resilience after they recorded a 2-1 win at Southampton to lift their survival hopes ahead of “killer games” in the final two months of the season.

Cucho Hernandez struck a first-half brace at St Mary’s to help the Hornets secure only a second Premier League victory in 17 attempts.

Mohamed Elyounoussi pulled one back for Saints but Watford held on. They remain in the bottom three but only on goal difference after they were able to draw level on points with Everton – one of four bottom-half sides still set to visit Vicarage Road.

Hodgson said: “I thought the attitude of the players and their obvious desire to play well and win this game was there for all to see.

“What pleased me was the fact that after conceding that goal at the end of the first half and not having the cushion of a two-goal lead at half-time, it could have really dented our confidence and belief but it didn’t.

“In the second half we continued where we left off and resilience is such an important factor in top Premier League football. It doesn’t matter if you are fighting at the bottom or trying to qualify for the Champions League, you have to have the resilience to stay in the game, deal with corners and free-kicks, all the things that can happen and we had that resilience.”

After a 4-0 defeat at Wolves on Thursday had dented the Hertfordshire side’s hopes of beating the drop, Hernandez helped provide the perfect response on the south coast.

The Colombia attacker grabbed the opener in the 14th minute when he fired home after rounding Fraser Forster following Mohammed Salisu’s poor back-pass, and made it 2-0 in the 34th minute with a fine volley.

Watford host relegation rivals Leeds and Burnley in April and also face Brentford and Everton on home turf before the end of the campaign.

“We have been relatively even in many respects but we need to be better and I would like to think that I do see signs of us actually getting better,” Hodgson added.

“We know quite frankly we have got four games against the teams who are catchable and they are going to be tough games. They are killer games in a way because if we continue to do okay, everyone will expect now you play them at home you will win but that’s not how the Premier League works.

“Southampton did not expect Newcastle and Watford to come here and win because they are playing well, have a good team, but that is what happens.

“I am fearful of those games but you cannot deny they do give you a chance, they are home games and they are six-pointers if you like.”

Ralph Hasenhuttl saw Southampton suffer a third consecutive defeat and while he admitted the visitors deserved their win, he was frustrated by the number of stoppages for injuries.

He insisted: “I must congratulate Watford for the three points. They need them and absolutely deserved them for their defensive performance, their coolness and cleverness.

“I would maybe do the same if I am in a relegation battle but I don’t know if we want to see this in the Premier League, that every action is immediately stopped with one minute of laying on the ground after every foul, but I understand they are fighting for their lives.

“It is hard then to find the rhythm for us and hard to find our game. This is the second time this week it happens. Against Newcastle it was very similar and we have to learn. We have to find solutions to this.”

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