James Ward-Prowses stunning late free-kick grabbed a 2-1 home win for Southampton and kept Watford bottom of the Premier League
Quique Snchez Flores shook his head in disbelief, dismayed at how Watford allowed Southampton to wriggle free. Flores may not be quite so fortunate, with the Spaniards position as Watford head coach extremely precarious after Southampton scored two goals in five second-half minutes to complete an unlikely turnaround in front of Gino Pozzo, a restless Watford owner at the best of times, and the chairman, Scott Duxbury. In the same way Southampton seemed resigned to plunging to the bottom of the pile at Watfords expense before late goals by Danny Ings and James Ward-Prowse, Floress demeanour suggested he knows what is coming.
Despite taking the lead through their 30m club-record signing, Ismala Sarr, Watford have won only one game since Flores returned to the club in September. Asked whether he is confident he will take charge of Wednesdays trip to Leicester City, Flores replied: Im not sure. I am completely apart [from] these kinds of decisions. I am just sad because if I cant help the team I am sad for that, I am sad for the fans, I am sad for the players, for the owner and the future of the club, of course.
This is the way I choose. I cant regret for that. When they came to my house to say: You can help us, if I stay in my comfort zone, its not me. I came here, Im trying and fighting a lot but the circumstances are completely bad for us.
Southampton, as a relieved Ralph Hasenhttl acknowledged, were lucky in more ways than one. They were fortunate to trail by a single goal at the interval, with Sarr forcing Alex McCarthy into a smart stop before the Southampton goalkeeper clawed a Gerard Deulofeu cross away from the Senegalese who was lurking at the back post.
Hasenhttls substitutes woke up Southampton, with Sofiane Boufal and Shane Long introduced approaching the hour mark, but in the buildup to Ingss equaliser Moussa Djenepo appeared guilty of handball. It is understood the Premier League recognises the goal should have been disallowed by the video assistant referee but, at the time, the VAR did not have conclusive evidence; it is understood it took broadcasters eight minutes to find the definitive angle.
Maybe he could have disallowed the goal, Hasenhttl said. The weight was on our shoulders and we have lifted it. It must be about something with the history with the last games here in the stadium. We had no successful moments for such a long time here and this is in the mind and everything we tried to do today in the first half you couldnt see it. In the second half suddenly it was there and maybe because of the subs we were more brave.
Watford had been playing with fire Ben Foster pushed Longs effort on to the crossbar and eventually came unstuck. Moments after Craig Cathcart made a magnificent goalline intervention to prevent the striker from levelling after Ings hooked Ward-Prowses cross into the six-yard box, Southampton dug out an equaliser. Djenepo sashayed to the byline and slid a ball towards the front post, allowing Ings to apply the finish.
Suddenly Southampton were in the ascendancy; when they won a free-kick on the edge of the area Ward-Prowse dispatched a wonderful winner, with Foster unable to keep out his curled effort.
Having seemingly exorcised the ghosts of that 9-0 hammering by Leicester in October, Southampton can build on a precious three points against Norwich City here on Wednesday, though Hasenhttl acknowledged they can ill afford a repeat performance. You need the wins to stay alive, and we are alive now, the Austrian said.