Antonio Conte got yet another one over his compatriot and fierce rival Walter Mazzari as Chelsea came from behind to beat Watford 2-1 at Vicarage Road in the Premier League on Saturday.
Etienne Capoue opened scoring for the Hornets, but two late goals within seven miniutes by Michy Batshuayi and Cesc Fabregas saw the Blues record their second win of the season and a 100% start to the Premier League season.
There was so much talk about the feud between Walter Mazzari and Antonio Conte and one would not have been expecting too much to think the players would translate their respective managers’ animosity to the pitch, but it wasn’t exactly the case in the first half at Vicarage Road.
It was a half that saw both sides struggle to assert themselves in the overall. However, there were some hit and miss chances, and as early as the 2nd minute, Pedro was already pulling forward but his cross could only find Watford goalkeeper Huerlo Gomes who claimed expertly.
Minutes later, it was the turn of Thibaut Courtois to put in a contribution as his save was good enough to deny Jose Holebas’ thunderbolt of a shot.
There was a scare for Watford however, when it seemed they would be reduced to 10 men, as captain Troy Deeney put in a reckless challenge but the referee was lenient enough to issue just a yellow card.
Odion Ighalo then went close for the Hornets, as his shot from outside the goal area went only inches over the crossbar, and Chelsea would have been relieved to have a goal-kick that time.
In the end, it was an even half as both teams cancelled each other out.
At least there seemed to be a lot more verve and urgency to the way the second half started. Ighalo was picked out by a teammate with a neat pass, but a poor first time touch by the striker meant the Chelsea defenders could clear easily.
Eden Hazard was the next in line with a chance, as he created space for himself inside Watford’s goal area but his shot was as horrible as it was ridiculous; no real threat as was ballooned high and wide.
He would rue that missed opportunity moments later, as Watford’s Adlene Guediora found Etienne Capoue with a perfect cross and the Frenchman produced an accurate kick to launch the ball into the top left-hand corner to give the Hornets the lead. 1-0 Watford.
Diego Costa’s frustration boiled over shortly after that goal, as his foul-mouth rant against the referee was rewarded with a yellow card. Chelsea sought to control the game afterwards, and went close to leveling the score. Nemanja Matic controls the ball in an encouraging position but his shot was weak and tame, and well wide off the mark and Watford rest easy.
As the game approached the 80-minute mark and with no respite in sight, Conte made a tactical switch as he replaced Oscar with Michy Batshuayi and the Belgian scored his first goal for the club right on the 80-minute mark to draw Chelsea level. 1-1.
Meanwhile, Cesc Fabregas had replaced Matic shortly before the goal, and the Spaniard would add a second minutes later as Chelsea come full cycle to lead 2-1.
And that goal would prove to be the winner as Antonio Conte recorded another win. It means Chelsea along with the Manchester clubs, are the early pace-setters in the Premier League
Watford XI: Gomes; Cathcart, Prodl, Britos; Behrami, Guediora (Vydra), Amrabat, Capoue (Doucoure), Holebas (Zuniga); Ighalo, Deeney
Subsnot used: Anya, Hoban, Nyom, Pantilimon,
Chelsea XI: Courtois; Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry Azpilicueta; Kante; Hazard, Matic (Fabregas), Oscar (Batshuayi), Pedro (Moses); Costa