When Michail Antonio’s shot hit off one post then the other, West Ham thought it summed up their afternoon of rotten luck rather accurately.
Referee Craig Pawson had awarded Watford a penalty, then refused to return the favour in the second half when Cheikhou Kouyate felt he was felled inside the area. They had seen shots go to waste and good chances come to nothing.
Thankfully for Slaven Bilic, though, the rebound from roadrunner Antonio fell to Andre Ayew and the substitute scored to cancel out Troy Deeney’s opener.
Watford striker Troy Deeney gave his side the lead early on from the penalty spot and enjoyed quietening the West Ham fans
Fresh from their trip to Dubai, West Ham started the game like they were still there as the Hornets took a third-minute lead
Watford keeper Heurelho Gomes celebrates with home supporters after Deeney expertly dispatched his shot from 12 yards
Michail Antonio was shown a second yellow card and then red by referee Michael Oliver in the closing stages of the match
MATCH FACTS, RATINGS, TABLE AND MATCH ZONE
Watford (4-3-3): Gomes 6.5; Janmaat 6 (Cathcart 6, 52), Kaboul 6.5, Britos 6.5, Holebas 6.5; Cleverley 6, Behrami 6.5, Capoue 6.5; Zarate 6 (Doucoure 6, 45+9), Deeney 7.5, Niang 7
Unused subs: Arlauskis, Prodl, Zuniga, Success, Okaka
Goal: Deeney (3 pen)
Booked: Janmaat, Cleverley, Holebas, Zarate
Manager: Walter Mazzarri 6
West Ham (4-2-3-1): Randolph 6.5; Kouyate 6, Fonte 7, Reid 6.5, Cresswell 7; Noble 6.5, Obiang 6.5; Feghouli 6.5, Snodgrass 6 (Ayew 6.5, 65), Lanzini 7.5 (Fernandes 90+1); Antonio 7.5
Unused subs: Adrian, Collins, Byram, Masuaku, Calleri
Goal: Ayew (73)
Booked: Antonio, Kouyate
Sent off: Antonio (86)
Manager: Slaven Bilic 6
Referee: Craig Pawson 5.5
Star man: Antonio
- Premier League Standings:
Team P GD Pts 1 Chelsea 26 36 63 2 Manchester City 25 22 52 3 Tottenham Hotspur 25 28 50 4 Arsenal 25 26 50 5 Liverpool 25 24 49 6 Manchester United 25 17 48 7 Everton 26 15 44 8 West Bromwich Albion 26 4 40 9 West Ham United 26 -9 33 10 Stoke City 25 -6 32 11 Burnley 26 -9 31 12 Watford 26 -13 31 13 Southampton 25 -3 30 14 Bournemouth 26 -15 26 15 Swansea City 26 -25 24 16 Middlesbrough 26 -9 22 17 Crystal Palace 26 -13 22 18 Leicester City 25 -19 21 19 Hull City 26 -27 21 20 Sunderland 26 -24 19
Ayew was on hand to give West Ham a share of the points
Bilic was back on the sideline after avoiding a ban for throwing a TV microphone in frustration following their game against West Brom. Though he endured a frustrating evening, no touchline equipment was harmed here.
‘We were so much better in the second half that we deserved to win the game. I’ve very proud of the team.
Michail Antonio was asked to play as a central striker in the absence of target man Andy Carroll in the league encounter
Hammers stopper Darren Randolph came nowhere near saving Deeney’s crisp, low strike into the bottom corner
It was the English striker’s fourth Premier League goal in his last five games as he continued to enjoy his return to form
Mauro Zarate was a lively presence for the hosts in the opening 45 minutes but his night would end prematurely
‘Antonio was our best player. They could not cope with him. He cannot get the ball on the wing and cross for himself. Maybe he can sometimes but not today. He had a great game.’
As for Watford manager Walter Mazzarri, his day got worse when former West Ham forward Mauro Zarate was taken off on a stretcher after suffering what looked like a serious knee injury.
A lengthy stoppage was required and Watford will check on him on Sunday.
‘He was in a lot of pain and in tears,’ Mazzarri added.
At Vicarage Road there was no Andy Carroll, the striker who travelled to Dubai for warm-weather training last week but is still suffering from a groin injury.
He is one goal short of 50 in the Premier League and the wait will go on. The same goes for that telephone call from Gareth Southgate.
The diminutive Argentine fell badly on his right knee and required lengthy medical attention on the field of play
Zarate was eventually taken off in a knee brace and on a stretcher to a standing ovation from both sets of supporters
Zarate clearly has his head in his hands as he begins to contemplate the length of time he could be facing out of action
Both managers are under no immediate pressure but the three points were fiercely fought over at Vicarage Road irrespective
England’s manager wants to watch the 28-year-old ahead of March’s international break but, with Carroll missing for a second successive match, he is running out of chances.
With Antonio now banned for West Ham’s game against Chelsea next week, Bilic is hoping Carroll will be back.
‘We spoke on Friday with the guys from the medical department,’ Bilic added. ‘They assured me he will start training with us on Tuesday or Wednesday.
‘Hopefully he will be able to play Chelsea.’
It was in September when Deeney aimed a dig at West Ham, saying they disrespected Watford by showboating at the London Stadium. Here he had a point to prove.
The game was only two minutes old when Kouyate tripped Zarate inside the area. It was clumsy and Pawson pointed to the penalty spot.
Mazzarri didn’t watch Deeney take it, instead turning away as the Watford captain scored and celebrated by shushing West Ham’s supporters.
Sofiane Feghouli looks to hold off Watford defender Jose Holebas during a highly-competitive encounter on Saturday
Bilic barks instructions to his players as he made changes in the second half to ensure his side came away with something
West Ham fans celebrate equalising through Ayew’s strike on the spot in the driving rain but they could have lost it at the end
Antonio will now miss West Ham’s home encounter with Chelsea after he deliberately handled to thwart a Watford break
Watford very nearly scored a last-minute winner but substitute Isaac Success somehow failed to get purchase on the ball
Deeney’s opener gave Watford a lead to defend and in the 45th minute, a cross from Aaron Cresswell found Robert Snodgrass. Unable to control it, the chance went to waste.
It was in the build-up to that which led to Zarate hurting his knee. After a lengthy stoppage, the 29-year-old was taken off on a stretcher to applause from both sets of supporters.
The first half had seen one shot on target – Deeney’s spot-kick – and West Ham had work to do.
They wanted a penalty in the 50th minute when Kouyate went down after a tussle with Niang. Pawson decided it was a dive and gave a free-kick to Watford. Bilic couldn’t believe it.
Still, this was better from the away side and they were on top.
Antonio impressed up front on his own and was well involved in making it 1-1. It was his shot from 20 yards which hit both posts then allowed Ayew to tap it in.
Yet his day was not done. Antonio was shown a second yellow for handball after feeling he had been felled and West Ham were up against it.
They survived several late scares and went home with a well-deserved draw.