Watford striker Cucho Hernandez made Southampton pay for sloppy defending with two first-half goals that helped the relegation-threatened side seal an important 2-1 victory in the Premier League on Sunday.
The result at St. Mary’s Stadium helped Roy Hodgson’s team to snap a run of two straight defeats and secure three points that lifted them up one place to 18th, while mid-table Saints were left to rue a third defeat on the trot.
“I thought we played well from the first minute. We weren’t doing that badly on Thursday,” Hodgson, whose side have lost 3-2 to Arsenal and 4-0 at Wolverhampton Wanderers in their last two matches, told the BBC.
“We’re not top of the table, we’re near the bottom and when you’re 3-0 down players have to show enormous character to get back from that. I’m pleased with the performance today.”
Hodgson said that he was delighted with the efforts of his strikers, with Hernandez scoring his third goal in three games.
“The front players gave us another level of energy,” Hodgson said. “We created quite a few opportunities to score. Our crowd were incredible today – it was like a home game. You can’t ask more if you’re a Watford player.”
Watford struck in the 14th minute when Colombian Hernandez pounced on a weak back pass by Southampton’s Mohammed Salisu and found the target from a tight angle after rounding goalkeeper Fraser Forster.
An unmarked Hernandez doubled Watford’s lead 20 minutes later when he steadied himself and volleyed in a cross from Juraj Kucka, after a patient spell of build-up play by the visitors.
Watford had several chances to go 3-0 up but Southampton pulled one goal back before halftime, as Mohamed Elyounoussi tapped in Che Adams’s flicked header following a free kick from James Ward-Prowse.
Southampton continued to press after the break but Watford defended bravely and rode their luck late on when they conceded a foul in a dangerous area, and Ward-Prowse narrowly missed the mark from the resulting free kick.