Roy Hodgson’s last home game as Watford boss ended in a heavy defeat as Leicester ran out 5-1 winners at Vicarage Road on Sunday.
With incoming Watford head coach Rob Edwards in attendance, the already relegated Hornets made the perfect start as Joao Pedro (6) capitalized on some poor Leicester defending to open the scoring.
This has been a disgraceful performance from Watford. They have thrown the towel in.
However, that wasn’t the end of the defensive calamities as James Maddison (18) and Jamie Vardy (22) were the benefactors of some forgettable moments at the heart of the Watford defense as Leicester turned the game on its head with two goals in four minutes.
Leicester put the game to bed minutes into the second half through Harvey Barnes (46) before Vardy (70) and then Barnes (86) grabbed their second goals of the game to put the finishing touch on a superb afternoon for Brendan Rodgers’ side, who move into the top half into 10th.
Sky Sports pundit Tim Sherwood described Watford’s performance as “disgraceful”.
“Roy Hodgson does not deserve this performance,” said Sherwood. “They have thrown the towel in.”
Defeat keeps Watford in 19th and they will look to avoid finishing bottom when they travel to Chelsea on the final day of the season.
How Hodgson’s Vicarage Road farewell turned into a nightmare…
With their relegation from the Premier League already confirmed, Watford started brightly, and they edged ahead inside six minutes.
Leicester made a mess of dealing with Ken Sema’s corner as the ball bounced off Youri Tielemans before Pedro’s low effort went in off Timothy Castagne.
The hosts were piling the pressure on Leicester and twice went close to doubling their advantage, including Adam Masina hitting the crossbar, but defensive errors allowed the visitors back into the game.
Home Team: Foster (5), Ngakia (6), Cathcart (4), Kabasele (5), Masina (6), Sissoko (6), Kayembe (6), Gosling (6), Kalu (5), Pedro (7), Sema 6).
Subs: Kamara (6), Etebo (n/a).
Away Team: Ward (8), Justin (6), Fofana (7), Evans (6), Castagne (6), Mendy (6), Dewsbury-Hall (8), Maddison (8), Tielemans (7), Barnes (8) ), Vardy (8).
Subs: Albrighton (7), Amartey (6), Daka (n/a).
Man of the match: Jamie Vardy.
Craig Cathcart collided with Masina as he attempted to deal with a long ball over the top and Youri Tielemans capitalised, teeing up Maddison for a simple finish into the empty net.
Leicester were four minutes later as Vardy claimed his third goal in two games.
Watford goalkeeper Ben Foster rushed off his line to the edge of his box in an attempt to punch clear Maddison’s ball forward but Vardy got there first to head the ball into the unguarded goal.
The goals continued to come for Leicester, and they doubled their advantage seconds into the second half.
Substitute Marc Albrighton, who replaced Nampalys Mendy at the break, made an instant impact, producing an inviting cross from the right and the unmarked Barnes was on hand to volley the ball home at the far post.
Vardy then grabbed his second of the game as Leicester continued to punish Watford’s lacklustre performance.
- Watford were forced into a late change after defender Samir suffered an injury in the warm-up. Craig Cathcart replaced the stricken Brazilian, leaving the Hornets with only eight substitutes.
- Goalkeeper Danny Ward was handed his first Premier League appearance as part of three changes for Leicester. Wesley Fofana and Nampalys Mendy also returned for the Foxes, with Kasper Schmeichel, Daniel Amartey and Ademola Lookman dropping to the bench.
Cathcart failed to deal with Barnes’ through ball and Vardy brought it down before coolly finishing past Foster in front of the traveling fans.
Barnes then put the finishing touch on a brilliant afternoon for Leicester to get his second of the afternoon late on.
For Watford, it finished in a damp squib in the Hertfordshire rain as the players stayed out on the pitch at full-time to show their appreciation to the home fans, who had mostly already gone home.
What the managers said…
Watford boss Roy Hodgson: “We were architects of our own downfall.
“Bad mistakes led to the goals. When you analyze the goals we conceded, there isn’t a lot good you could say. Crass individual errors and we find ourselves on the end of a very bad defeat.
“We’ve had the worst home record in all the leagues. You need your wins at home. The fans are entitled to be frustrated and upset with us and to make their opinions heard.”
Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers: “It was a fantastic win. It’s never easy at this stage of the season when people think you have nothing to play for. I’m proud of the players. They turned up. They were hungry right to the end, and it was a good win for us.
“It was another unfortunate deflection from the corner which saw us concede. Our response was outstanding. The hunger and momentum and feeling of the game was good for us. It’s how we want to play. We want to be difficult to play against with or without the ball.
“I thought the attacking part of our game was outstanding. James Maddison’s quality was sensational – his passing, his delivery, work rate was very good. We had that intensity. We were penetrating. We talked before making more runs in behind.”
‘No manager in the world could have saved us’
Watford goalkeeper Ben Foster:
“In the final game of the season, you can’t put in a performance like that. It’s been a disappointing season; it’s been a bit of a disaster from start to finish. You have to give the fans something to cheer about in the final home game and we didn’t do that.
“People definitely can’t be pinning blame on Roy Hodgson. He galvanised us a bit. We were a wayward team and didn’t know what our game plan was. He got us working as a unit. The confidence has been so low. It doesn’t help when you’re getting battered and punished for mistakes. I don’t think a manager in the world could have saved us. What Roy and Ray [Lewington] have done for us is brilliant. I’ve enjoyed playing with them.
“I think a few players will leave and a few will come in. Hopefully we can do what we did a couple of years ago and bounce back. We have a lot of quality individuals.”
Opta stats: Watford’s defensive frailties continue at Vicarage Road…
Watford suffered their 15th home league defeat of the season, the joint-most by any side in a single English top-flight campaign, level with Blackpool in 1966-67 and Stoke City in 1984-85.
The Hornets have conceded 46 Premier League goals at Vicarage Road this season, the most at home by any side in a single campaign in the competition, and most by any top-flight side overall since 1960-61 (Newcastle 49, Chelsea 48).
Leicester have won back-to-back Premier League games for only a third time this season, also doing so in October and March.
Leicester City have conceded 16 Premier League goals from corners this season, the joint-most in a single campaign by any side since Opta have this data available (from 2006-07), level with Watford in 2016-17 and Brighton in 2017-18 .
Leicester’s James Maddison has scored 16 goals in all competitions this season, his best tally in a single campaign in his career. He also has 17 Premier League goal involvements this term (10 goals, seven assists), also his most in a season in the competition. Maddison (16 goals, 11 assists) became the first Leicester player to both score 10+ and assist 10+ goals in a single season in all competitions since Riyad Mahrez in 2017-18 (13 goals, 12 assists).
Leicester travel to Chelsea on Thursday at 8pm. On the final day of the Premier League season, Leicester host Southampton and Watford head to Chelsea on Sunday at 4pm.