Watford sinks 10-man Chelsea

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LONDON — Ten-man Chelsea suffered another setback in its stumbling season as it lost 4-1 at Watford Monday after conceding three late goals to go down to its second straight Premier League defeat.

Daryl Janmaat, Gerard Deulofeu and Roberto Pereyra all scored late on in response to Eden Hazard dragging Chelsea back into the game with a curler in the 82nd minute after Tiemoue Bakayoko was sent off for a second booking on the half-hour.

Chelsea cruised to the title in coach Antonio Conte’s first campaign in England last season but it is 19 points behind runaway leader Manchester City and is focused on finishing in the top four Champions League qualification spots.

Chelsea sits in fourth spot, a point behind third-placed Liverpool and one ahead of Tottenham Hotspur in fifth.

“I tried to warn everyone about the difficulty of our path in the league and Champions League,” said Chelsea coach Antonio Conte. “We performed very bad but maybe I made the mistakes with the starting XI today. My choice was very poor I think.”

Mid-table Watford had taken the lead in the 43rd with a Troy Deeney penalty after Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois brought down on-loan Barcelona winger Gerard Deulofeu.

By that stage, Chelsea was down to 10 men after its France midfielder Bakayoko was booked twice for challenges in the space of a few minutes before the half-hour mark.

Watford reacted quickly to Hazard’s equalizer as defender Janmaat exchanged passes with Pereyra before shooting low past Courtois. Deulofeu sealed the win in the 88th with his first goal for the club before Pereyra got the fourth in added time.

Monday’s loss has added to the pressure on Conte, who faces more questions about his future after a poor start to 2018 which has seen Chelsea knocked out of the League Cup by Arsenal before it lost 3-0 at home to Bournemouth last week in the league.

“My position? It is the same. I stay here, try to work and put all myself in the work,” Conte told Sky Sports. “The pressure? What is the pressure? I work — if this is enough it is, OK. Otherwise the club has to take another decision.”

It was a different story for new Watford manager Javi Gracia who modestly described the victory in his first home match in charge as a “good beginning” for his side, which sits in 11th place but is still only six points clear of the relegation zone.

“I think it is important not only for three points but for the motivation to believe in our possibilities,” Gracia told reporters. “I think it is very important today.”

Laxalt stuns Lazio

Uruguay international Diego Laxalt scored two minutes into injury time to give Genoa a crucial 2-1 victory at Lazio Monday and ease its relegation fears.

Veteran Montenegro international Goran Pandev had given the visitors a second-half lead in Rome but Lazio struck back just four minutes later through Italy midfielder Marco Parolo.

But Laxalt’s late winner moved former Italian giants Genoa seven points clear of the relegation places while preventing third-placed Lazio from further consolidating a Champions League qualification spot.

After a goalless first half, Pandev’s shot from the center of the box found the bottom corner following a swift counter attack on 55 minutes.

But the lead lasted just briefly before Parolo converted a cross from Uruguay full-back Martin Caceres.

Ciro Immobile had a late chance to win the game for Lazio but Mattia Perin got down to make the save.

And the Romans were made to pay in stoppage time as Laxalt headed home a cross from Oscar Hiljemark.

Napoli maintained its one-point lead at the top with a 2-0 victory at rock-bottom Benevento Sunday.

Champion Juventus remained in hot pursuit after thumping Sassuolo 7-0, with Gonzalo Higuain bagging a hat trick. — Agencies


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