Gerard Deulofeu scored an impressive double as Watford kept their European ambitions alive with a comfortable victory over Huddersfield.
The Spaniard opened the scoring in the fifth minute before sealing the victory late on, seeing the Hornets move up to seventh in the table.
Jonathan Hogg lost possession deep inside his own half before Terence Kongolo’s recovering tackle knocked the ball into the path of Deulofeu, who guided it past Jonas Lossl inside the area for the first.
Deulofeu cemented the win when he was on hand to convert from close range as Jonas Lossl parried Ken Sema’s shot straight to the Hornets forward.
Huddersfield did salvage a late consolation, as substitute Karlan Grant capitalised on some tired Watford defending to head in from close range in the final seconds.
The already-relegated Terriers remain rooted to the foot of the table, while Watford take a step closer to European football in seventh place should Manchester City beat them in the FA Cup final.
Dominant Deulofeu a constant threat
Watford could have been forgiven for having one eye on their first FA Cup final since 1984 as they are set to play Manchester City next month, but Javi Gracia’s side still produced a thoroughly professional performance in west Yorkshire.
Deulofeu – who came back into the side for the suspended Troy Deeney after missing the defeat at Arsenal due to injury – was unstoppable as the Terriers toiled in the sunshine.
The Spaniard struck an early blow with an excellent curling finish as Watford flew out of the blocks looking to improve on a run of three league defeats in their last four games.
Having taken the lead, the visitors enjoyed more controlled possession than their hosts, armed with the constant threat of Deulofeu who changed the intensity as and when he pleased.
Ken Sema was impressive throughout with his driving runs from midfield but Deulofeu sealed the win with 10 minutes remaining when he was on hand to guide the loose ball past Lossl after the Terriers’ keeper saved Sema’s fierce shot.
The Hornets will be disappointed not to claim a clean sheet with Grant’s strike late on, but after Wolves and Leicester dropped points, the victory was enough to ensure they rose three places in the table.
Huddersfield lack finish but show promise
The Terriers have had a disappointing second season in the top flight of English football after their relegation to the Championship was confirmed in March, with six games remaining.
Goals have been the biggest issue for Huddersfield – the Premier League’s lowest scorers – and they struggled with a clinical edge against the Hornets once more.
Jan Siewert’s side had more shots (13) than their opponents (11) in the match but only three of the shots were on target.
The hosts had their chances to draw level after Deulofeu’s opener, but could only force opposition goalkeeper Ben Foster into one meaningful save.
The veteran keeper showed his athleticism to keep out Isaac Mbenza’s fierce effort from 25 yards with a smart save to his left.
However, Grant’s fourth goal of the campaign saw him become the club’s top goalscorer of the season, as the Terriers moved level with Derby County’s lowest Premier League tally of 20 goals in 2007-08.
Man of the match – Gerard Deulofeu (Watford)
‘It will never stop hurting’ – what they said
Huddersfield boss, Jan Siewert, speaking to BBC Match of the Day: “This is the frustrating thing but it always hurts when you lose games and it will never stop. I will stay positive because we have to learn from this season.
“In the 4-3-3 we started today, we were on the front foot against a team that are doing really well this season and we caused them problems and that’s what we should take out of this game.
“We conceded too early and we know it’s even harder to go. When you create so many chances against Watford who have a stable defence, it makes me proud.
“It’s about taking chances which they did twice and it’s hard to take.”
Watford boss, Javi Gracia, speaking to BBC Match of the Day: “First of all I would like to speak about Huddersfield. Credit to them, it is not easy to play in this situation after their relegation.
“They tried. They made it very difficult today and it was a close game. We conceded in the last minute and in my opinion we had control of the game but we needed to kill it before the end and we didn’t.
“I think Gerard [Deulofeu] is showing his quality. He’s scoring more goals for us but always showed what he is able to do.
“It’s important for the team for our players to score goals for us.”
Another home struggle for the Terriers – the stats
- Huddersfield Town have lost 14 home Premier League games this season, a joint record in the competition’s history (also 14 for Sunderland in 2002-03 and 2005-06).
- Watford have won six away Premier League games this season, only winning more in a top-flight season in 1983-84 under Graham Taylor (seven).
- Huddersfield have lost 21 of their last 23 matches in all competitions (W1 D1 L21), losing 11 of their 12 games under manager Jan Siewert (W1 D0 L11).
- Gerard Deulofeu has scored six goals in his last five Premier League away games for Watford.
- Huddersfield have won none of the 45 Premier League matches in which they’ve conceded the first goal (W0 D3 L42), losing all 19 at the John Smith’s Stadium when conceding first.
- In all competitions, Gerard Deulofeu has scored eight goals and assisted two more in his last nine appearances for Watford.
- Huddersfield midfielder Juninho Bacuna has started 15 matches for the Terriers in all competitions this season and ended on the losing side in all 15.
- Since his Premier League debut for Huddersfield Town on 2 February, Karlan Grant has scored four league goals – no other Terriers player has scored more than once in that time.
Huddersfield could play a pivotal role in the title race as they travel to Anfield under the lights on Friday, 26 April (20:00 BST), while Watford host Southampton in midweek on Tuesday, 23 April (19:45).