JAVI GRACIA was unable to cease the Watford rot as Jack Stephens celebrated his 24th birthday with Southampton’s FA Cup winner.
The previous England Beneath-21 defender scored the primary objective of his Saints profession when he pounced from shut vary after keeper Orestis Karnezis might solely parry Shane Lengthy’s fourth minute shot.
It was the proper begin for struggling Southampton and instant affirmation of simply how a lot work Gracia has on his arms after changing Marco Silva as Hornets boss this week.
Saints supervisor Mauricio Pellegrino had resisted the temptation to throw £19million Guido Carrillo in from the beginning following the striker’s £19million transfer from Monaco this week.
That meant a lonely battle up entrance for the ever-willing Lengthy, who chased each ball and by no means allowed Watford to play their means out from the again.
Southampton have been nonetheless smarting over Watford’s injury-time equaliser throughout their 2-2 draw at Vicarage Street two weeks in the past.
And so they weren’t allowed to overlook that incident by the four,000 travelling supporters, who continuously goaded their hosts with chants of “Abdoulaye Doucore, he scores along with his arms.”
However there was treasured little else for the Watford followers to smile about as their crew struggled to halt their disturbing current stoop.
They virtually snatched an unlikely equaliser proper on the finish of the first-half when Richarlison’s over-hit cross appeared as if it was going to sail over Alex McCarthy’s head till the Saints keeper tipped over at full stretch.
It was arduous to disagree with these disgruntled Hornets singing “we’re f****** s***” as their crew continued to battle after the break.
Lengthy wasted two first rate alternatives to complete the tie for Southampton and Sofiane Boufal was satisfied he ought to have had a penalty when he was barged over from behind by Andre Carrillo.
Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg rattled the crossbar with a thunderous 30-yard effort halfway by way of the second-half however Watford’s lack of risk meant that one objective was all the time going to be sufficient for Southampton to assert their place within the final 32.