Watford went toe-to-toe with Chelsea in a thoroughly entertaining clash at Stamford Bridge. Pedro scored a stunner and Batshuayi proved to be a super-sub for the Blues to get their first win in three games.
Chelsea hosted Watford in Saturday’s early kick-off looking to put an end to the worst run in Antonio Conte’s short tenure at Stamford Bridge. The Hornets travelled to west London buoyed by their late 2-1 win over Arsenal and ready to put up a fight.
It was even from the start, neither side sitting back to wait. Chelsea quickly piled the pressure on the goal defended by Heurelho Gomes, before a wonder-strike from Pedro gave his team a crucial lead.
Eden Hazard did well down the right flank before finding Pedro at the top of the box. The Spaniard hit a sublime first-time strike spinning into the top far corner. The ball struck the upright before nestling in the opposite bottom corner.
Gomes was left rooted to the spot, stunned by Pedro’s audacious and prompt effort, but the keeper did well to deny Chelsea’s second only moments later. Alvaro Morata picked out Fabregas in space down the right and the midfielder went for the subtle chip over the Watford stopper, who made a fingertip stop to thwart an easy goal.
The match entered a somewhat overly physical stage which highlighted the competitive nature of the encounter and which forced referee Jon Moss to brandish his yellow card on several occasions.
Long-range efforts from Pedro or Fabregas were well dealt with by Gomes before Chelsea sat back and attempted to see out the first half. However, a late surge from Watford denied the Blues the lead at the break with Doucoure firing inside the near post well into stoppage time.
After getting back into the game on the stroke of half time, Watford looked destined to withstand an onslaught from the hosts. However, Conte’s men were taken by surprise when the Hornets came out to the second period with the confidence to burst forward and pile pressure on Courtois.
After coming close to an own goal from Mariappa, the visitors were straight up the other end. Richarlison wasted a great opportunity to bury Femenia’s cross at the back post when he poked his finish wide despite being in a sea of space.
Watford overcame having missed such a huge chance only one minute later, tearing Chelsea apart with a swift passing move. Pereyra was picked out inside the box and he made no mistake to finish over the body of Courtois.
Not content with having taken the lead at Stamford Bridge, the side managed by Marco Silva had another chance to put the game out of reach. Richarlison was once again picked out unmarked inside the box, but the Brazilian sent his header wide of the post.
The Blues were unable to respond following the goal, Watford dealing comfortably with Chelsea’s attempts to go forward. However, the visitors would rue the missed chances when Batshuayi, who had replaced Morata ten minutes earlier, fired a bullet header across goal and into the back of the net.
Azpilicueta was then the unexpected hero when he headed in Willian’s cross at the back post for Chelsea to retake the lead with three minutes to go. Antonio Conte threw himself into ther crowd in celebration, before Batshuayi grabbed another to deny Watford the chance to snatch a point.
A poor pass from Britos was blocked by Bakayoko, into the path of the Belgian striker who poked the ball under Gomes to seal a 4-2 scoreline which slightly flattered the Premier League champions in a superb afternoon of football.