LONDON: Watford were dealt a major blow in their bid to avoid relegation as they suffered a 3-1 home defeat by Southampton after a Danny Ings double and James Ward-Prowse’s stunning late free kick for the visitors in their Premier League game yesterday.
Saints started strongly and took a well-deserved lead in the 16th minute when Ings glided past the challenge of two Watford defenders before curling a low effort into the far corner.
Ralph Hasenhuettl’s side were unlucky not to grab a second in the 24th minute when Ward-Prowse skied his effort from close range after latching on to a cross-field pass from Oriol Romeu.
Watford, who had omitted Andre Gray, Nathaniel Chalobah and Domingos Quina from their squad after British media reported a lockdown breach, started the second half strongly but failed to test Saints keeper Alex McCarthy.
However, the hosts found themselves two goals down in the 70th minute when Ings intercepted a wayward throw out from goalkeeper Ben Foster before driving towards the penalty area and firing home his 18th league goal of the season.
Jan Bednarek’s own goal handed the Hornets a late lifeline but Ward-Prowse’s free kick in the 82nd minute sealed the victory for Saints, who set a club record with eight away wins in a single top-flight league campaign.
Southampton could have added a fourth goal late on but Che Adams’ effort was kept out by Foster before Nathan Redmond’s curling strike ricocheted off the post.
The result took Saints up to 13th place with 40 points, while Watford remain in 16th with 28 points, one point ahead of third-bottom Bournemouth, who have a game in hand.