20 July 2024

Deal Agreed;Watford finally closed £80m deal Today, new Nigerian super star coming tomorrow” Despite the transfer window not being open yet.

Watford halted a run of three successive Championship defeats as they recovered to draw at Cardiff City.

 

Mark McGuinness put the hosts in front with an emphatic close-range finish in the first half.

 

A blunder from Cardiff goalkeeper Jak Alnwick allowed Vakoun Bayo to equalise after the break.

 

Further clumsy Bluebirds defending gave Watford chances to earn just a third league win of the season but their finishing was wayward.

 

The point lifts Valerien Ismael’s side one place up to 20th in the Championship table, while Cardiff also move up one position to eighth, one point adrift of the play-off spots heading into October’s international break.

 

Optimism has been building at Cardiff this season, though it was slightly tempered by a midweek defeat at Middlesbrough – which ended a four-match winning run – and a growing injury list which now includes Aaron Ramsey, Callum O’Dowda, Yakou Meite and Kion Etete.

 

Even without that phalanx of attacking talent, Cardiff still posed the greater threat in the early stages against their out-of-sorts opponents.

 

Karlan Grant had the home side’s first chance as his powerful low drive was palmed away by Daniel Bachmann, with Wesley Hoedt getting to the rebound first to deny Ollie Tanner a tap-in.

 

Grant had a better opportunity soon afterwards, dispossessing Edo Kayembe near halfway and surging towards the penalty area before wastefully blasting over the crossbar.

 

Although Cardiff’s forwards lacked a clinical edge, centre-back McGuinness had no such problem as he hooked in a thumping volley from a corner to put the hosts ahead.

 

Watford should have equalised before the break as Hoedt’s flick-on from a corner found Yaser Asprilla, who somehow headed over from a yard out.

 

Bayo then had a glorious chance when he latched on to a poor back-pass from Perry Ng, only to see his low effort saved by Alnwick.

 

There was more charitable Cardiff defending after the break and this time Bayo took full advantage as he seized on a woeful touch from Alnwick, went round the Bluebirds keeper and finished into an empty net.

 

That goal was the least Watford deserved and it sparked a spell of pressure from the visitors.

 

Cardiff handed their opponents yet another chance on a plate, this time Ryan Wintle passing meekly to Tom Ince, who blazed over the bar from a promising position.

 

That was the last real chance of the contest, with both sides’ late attempts to find a winner amounting to nothing.

 

Cardiff City manager Erol Bulut:

 

“The first 35 minutes were good and what we expected and how we wanted to play. But I don’t know what happened after we scored the goal. My team totally changed. I don’t know the reason.

 

“Too nervous, too stressed, too many individual mistakes. We all have to work good to get all the points. Today we didn’t work all good. In the end we are lucky to get one point.

 

“If you see these 11 games, if you ask if I am satisfied, yes I am, but not with what we showed today, not with this performance. This I don’t want.

 

“Even if we lose points, we have to show fighting spirit and we didn’t show it after 35 minutes. This I don’t like.”

 

Watford manager Valerien Ismael:

 

“The attitude was better. We should win, no doubt about that, especially in the second half.

 

“The first half was a typical case of a team low in the table, lost three games in a row and lost some confidence.

 

“We said to the players at half-time we needed to believe in ourselves to turn the game. The mentality in the second half and how we managed the game was good.

 

“When you’ve lost three games in a row and you’re 1-0 down at half-time, it’s tough. The reaction was exactly what we expected.

 

“We expected more points but we take it step by step. We stopped the bleeding. We will recover from this tough period and learn a lot.”

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