Crystal Palace 1-2 Watford: Tom Cleverley strike completes second-half turnaround for visitors

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Crystal Palace took the lead in a fortuitous manner with the ball sneaking over the line after a goalmouth scramble


Wayne Hennessey may have wished to lie low amid the Football Association investigation into whether he was or wasn’t pictured performing a Nazi salute on a night out last week.

Yet the Crystal Palace goalkeeper was forced to come off the bench here when his team were leading 1-0, only for them to go on to lose 2-1.

Hennessey may have been able to do more to prevent the first goal but Tom Cleverley’s winner was by no means his fault. The substitute’s volley was simply too good to stop.  

Crystal Palace took the lead in a fortuitous manner with the ball sneaking over the line after a goalmouth scramble

Crystal Palace took the lead in a fortuitous manner with the ball sneaking over the line after a goalmouth scramble

Watford goalkeeper Ben Foster tried his best to clamber to his feet and push the ball away but couldn't manage it

Watford goalkeeper Ben Foster tried his best to clamber to his feet and push the ball away but couldn't manage it

Watford goalkeeper Ben Foster tried his best to clamber to his feet and push the ball away but couldn’t manage it

Watford defender Cathcart squeezed a header past Wayne Hennessey to atone for his earlier error and level the scores

Watford defender Cathcart squeezed a header past Wayne Hennessey to atone for his earlier error and level the scores

Watford defender Cathcart squeezed a header past Wayne Hennessey to atone for his earlier error and level the scores

Watford substitute Tom Cleverley thumped a volley home from just inside the box to complete the second-half comeback

Watford substitute Tom Cleverley thumped a volley home from just inside the box to complete the second-half comeback

Watford substitute Tom Cleverley thumped a volley home from just inside the box to complete the second-half comeback

Wilfried Zaha and Co look dejected after Palace conceded their second goal of the afternoon against Watford

Wilfried Zaha and Co look dejected after Palace conceded their second goal of the afternoon against Watford

Wilfried Zaha and Co look dejected after Palace conceded their second goal of the afternoon against Watford

MATCH FACTS, LIVE LEAGUE TABLE AND MATCH ZONE

CRYSTAL PALACE (4-4-2): Guaita (Hennessey 45), Wan Bissaka, Tomkins, Sakho, Van Aanholt, Kouyate, Milivojevic, McArthur (Benteke 79), Townsend, Ayew (Schlupp 83), Zaha;

SUBS NOT USED: Ward, Meyer, Wickham, Kelly

SCORERS: Cathcart OG (38)

BOOKED: Milivojevic

WATFORD (4-5-1): Foster, Femenia, Mariappa, Cathcart, Holebas, Doucoure, Capoue, Hughes (Sema 19) (Cleverley 78), Pereyra (Masina 90), Deulofeu, Deeney;

SUBS NOT USED: Gomes, Britos, Success, Quina

SCORERS: Cathcart (67), Cleverley (74)

BOOKED: Femenia, Sema, Pereyra, Cleverley

REFEREE: Paul Tierney 

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Tom Cleverley thumped a volley from just inside the penalty area into the back of the net to put the visitors in front. CLICK HERE to see more from Sportsmail's brilliant MATCH ZONE feature.

Tom Cleverley thumped a volley from just inside the penalty area into the back of the net to put the visitors in front. CLICK HERE to see more from Sportsmail's brilliant MATCH ZONE feature.

Tom Cleverley thumped a volley from just inside the penalty area into the back of the net to put the visitors in front. CLICK HERE to see more from Sportsmail’s brilliant MATCH ZONE feature.

Roy Hodgson defended Hennessey this week, saying he believed his goalkeeper when he said it was not what it looked like. Whether the FA will buy that remains to be seen.

Palace stole the lead through a scrappy own goal as Abdoulaye Doucoure’s clearance cannoned off Craig Cathcart and beyond Ben Foster.

Cathcart made amends in the 67th minute when he headed home a corner, before Cleverley’s fine finish secured Watford the three points at Selhurst Park.

Vicente Guaita, Palace’s first-choice goalkeeper, may have expected a busy evening as Watford bombarded his goal in the opening three minutes. 

Foster gets down well to his right to deny Crystal Palace forward Zaha from close and preserve Watford's lead

Foster gets down well to his right to deny Crystal Palace forward Zaha from close and preserve Watford's lead

Foster gets down well to his right to deny Crystal Palace forward Zaha from close and preserve Watford’s lead

Gerard Deulofeu breaks into the Palace box and looks to get a shot off but Mamadou Sakho manages to get a toe in to block

Gerard Deulofeu breaks into the Palace box and looks to get a shot off but Mamadou Sakho manages to get a toe in to block

Gerard Deulofeu breaks into the Palace box and looks to get a shot off but Mamadou Sakho manages to get a toe in to block

Adrian Mariappa bravely puts his head in to clear the ball up field as Kouyate tries to acrobatically kick the ball

Adrian Mariappa bravely puts his head in to clear the ball up field as Kouyate tries to acrobatically kick the ball

Adrian Mariappa bravely puts his head in to clear the ball up field as Kouyate tries to acrobatically kick the ball

Crystal Palace midfielder Cheikhou Kouyate takes aim at goal from distance as Troy Deeney tries to close him down

Crystal Palace midfielder Cheikhou Kouyate takes aim at goal from distance as Troy Deeney tries to close him down

Crystal Palace midfielder Cheikhou Kouyate takes aim at goal from distance as Troy Deeney tries to close him down

First, Gerard Deulofeu nutmegged James Tomkins then struck the woodwork with his subsequent shot. Then, Roberto Pereyra collected the rebound but with the goal gaping, he hit the same post.

Will Hughes suffered a knock to his head in the opening moments, too. Despite appearing visibly dazed, the 23-year-old was adamant he did not want to be removed or receive treatment.

Watford’s medical staff eventually came on to treat him minutes later before referee Paul Tierney, clearly concerned for the player’s welfare, called them on again.

Finally, 19 minutes into the match and quarter of an hour after the initial incident, Hughes was told he had to go off, seemingly suffering from concussion.

Watford looked like they would be the ones celebrating the opener before the break. Mamadou Sakho came close to scooping a clearance into his own net, while Troy Deeney directed a header from six yards wide of the target.

Yet it was Palace who pinched the lead, and this one will not rival Andros Townsend’s strike against Manchester City for Goal of the Season. 

James Tomkins times his sliding challenge to perfection to dispossess Deulofeu and stop him from carrying the ball forward

James Tomkins times his sliding challenge to perfection to dispossess Deulofeu and stop him from carrying the ball forward

James Tomkins times his sliding challenge to perfection to dispossess Deulofeu and stop him from carrying the ball forward

Roberto Pereyra ends up on top of Kouyate after the Palace midfielder slides in with a crunching challenge on him

Roberto Pereyra ends up on top of Kouyate after the Palace midfielder slides in with a crunching challenge on him

Roberto Pereyra ends up on top of Kouyate after the Palace midfielder slides in with a crunching challenge on him

Crystal Palace defender Sakho dives into to make a crunching challenge on Watford's Deeney to knock the ball out of play

Crystal Palace defender Sakho dives into to make a crunching challenge on Watford's Deeney to knock the ball out of play

Crystal Palace defender Sakho dives into to make a crunching challenge on Watford’s Deeney to knock the ball out of play

Wayne Hennessey comes on as a substitute to replace the injured Vicente Guaita in goal during the first half at Selhurst Park

Wayne Hennessey comes on as a substitute to replace the injured Vicente Guaita in goal during the first half at Selhurst Park

Wayne Hennessey comes on as a substitute to replace the injured Vicente Guaita in goal during the first half at Selhurst Park

The ball bounced around the six-yard box, the same way it might when a kid presses the shoot button on his PlayStation controller over and over.

Sakho had a go, then Tomkins had one too. Watford survived those attempts and Doucoure tried to clear the danger, only for the ball to hit off Cathcart and bounce over the line.

Before the break, Guaita was forced off after injuring his left calf, and on came Hennessey.

At the start of the second half, Wilfried Zaha should have doubled Palace’s advantage.

The winger had not scored or assisted a goal in his last 12 league appearances but was one on one with Foster. He aimed his shot directly at the goalkeeper. 

Watford defender Jose Holebas whips a corner in from the left during the first half at Selhurst Park on Saturday afternoon

Watford defender Jose Holebas whips a corner in from the left during the first half at Selhurst Park on Saturday afternoon

Watford defender Jose Holebas whips a corner in from the left during the first half at Selhurst Park on Saturday afternoon

Aaron Wan-Bissaka uses his body well to shield the ball from Holebas and keep Crystal Palace's attack alive

Aaron Wan-Bissaka uses his body well to shield the ball from Holebas and keep Crystal Palace's attack alive

Aaron Wan-Bissaka uses his body well to shield the ball from Holebas and keep Crystal Palace’s attack alive

Crystal Palace striker Jordan Ayew tracks back and slides in to try and win the ball back from Watford's Etienne Capoue

Crystal Palace striker Jordan Ayew tracks back and slides in to try and win the ball back from Watford's Etienne Capoue

Crystal Palace striker Jordan Ayew tracks back and slides in to try and win the ball back from Watford’s Etienne Capoue

Foster was called into action again in the 62nd minute when Luka Milivojevic, Palace’s top scorer this season on six, hit a half-volley from 30 yards.

Moments later, Watford were level and it came from nothing. Jose Holebas whipped in a corner, it looped over Hennessey, and Cathcart nodded in. Easy.

Suddenly, it was Craig Cathcart 1, Craig Cathcart 1.

Soon, it would be 2-1. Palace had plenty of opportunities to clear the danger but didn’t, and a tremendously volley from Cleverley found the top corner.

There was no way back for Palace. Hodgson says he wants a top-10 finish but that is fanciful, judging by their struggles in front of goal.



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