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Sunday 19 November 2017

Azpilicueta lights Blue touchpaper after Watford win

Cesar Azpilicueta
Cesar Azpilicueta

Chelsea defender Cesar Azpilicueta hopes the dramatic 4-2 victory over Watford can help the Premier League champions get their season back on track.

Antonio Conte’s Blues have endured a sticky spell over the past few weeks, losing back-to-back league games to title rivals Manchester City and bottom club Crystal Palace, as well as snatching a home draw against Roma in the Champions League.

Their poor run looked set to continue on Saturday after the Hornets took a 2-1 lead at Stamford Bridge before a late fightback saw them claim a much-needed victory.

Spain international Azpilicueta, who scored Chelsea’s crucial third goal three minutes from time, said: “We were three games without winning so it’s important to step up and get back to winning ways.

“We know it’s a long season and we will have ups and downs.

“This has been a difficult period but this is the first step to get out and get our confidence up.”

After Pedro put the hosts ahead with a fine strike from distance, Watford battled back to deservedly lead through Abdoulaye Doucoure’s fourth goal of the season and Roberto Pereyra’s first since last November.

Costly

Brazilian Richarlison wasted two golden chances to put the Hornets out of sight and the misses proved costly as a brace from substitute Michy Batshuayi and Azpilicueta’s close-range header moved Chelsea above their opponents and into fourth place in the table.

Belgium striker Batshuayi now has seven goals in his last six club matches and has found the net four times in three meetings with Watford.

The 24-year-old wants the Blues to use the result as a catalyst to kick-start their faltering campaign.

“It was good because I came on the pitch and did my job by scoring two goals, the three points is good for the team,” he said.

“I’m very happy, mostly for the three points in a difficult moment, and now we must focus on the next game.”

Watford boss Marco Silva felt his team merited at least a point in west London and backed summer signing Richarlison to bounce back from his costly misses.

The 20-year-old former Fluminense winger inexplicably fired wide with the goal gaping at 1-1 and then squandered the chance to give his side a two-goal advantage when he headed off-target from close range. 

“He deserves all the credit until now because he has been fantastic,” Silva said.

“He’ll score in the next games but what is important is that we created the chances and that he was in the right position to score again.”

Portuguese coach Silva also felt an injury sustained by Argentinian goalscorer Pereyra was a turning point.

“It was a key moment in the match (when he came off),” said Silva.

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