English Premiership

Watford, Middlesbrough in goalless stalemate

2017-01-14 20:32
Soccer ball (File)

Cape Town - There was no separating Watford and Middlesbrough as they played to a goalless draw in a lacklustre Premier League encounter at Vicarage Road on Saturday.

The first half was a truly drab affair, with goalscoring chances few and far between at both ends of the pitch.

The first chance of note arrived in the 12th minute, when Cristhian Stuani put the ball in the back of the net from close range. However, his celebrations were short-lived as the referee's assistant raised his flag for offside.

After a brief lull in play Watford eventually lodged their first effort on goal in the 26th minute, although Abdoulaye Doucoure's stinging shot from 22 yards was saved in the bottom-right corner by Victor Valdes.

Stuani, who had been relatively quiet after seeing his goal chalked off, had another chance to put his side in front in the 38th minute, but saw his lopping header land on the roof of the net.

And that was the last chance of note as the two teams went into the half-time break with the scores locked at 0-0.

Watford came flying out of the traps straight after the restart and very nearly grabbed the lead inside the first minute, but Christian Kabasele somehow failed to find the mark with a headed effort at the back post.

The chances began to flow for both sides, with Stefano Okaka's header forcing Valdes into action, before Heurelho Gomes kept out Fabio's goal-bound strike at the opposite end of the pitch.

After a brief lull in play, which saw the injured Gomes replaced by Costel Pantilimon, Watford again threatened to break the deadlock, when Doucoure headed just wide of the mark from Kabasele's inviting cross.

Middlesbrough had a rare chance of their own in the 71st minute, but substitute Rudy Gestede fired over the bar.

But the best chance of the match arrived in the 80th minute when Cleverley, latching onto a flicked header from Troy Deeney, saw his shot strike the base of the post, with Etienne Capoue firing wide on the follow-up.

Watford kept pressing for the all-important goal and again missed a great chance to do just that in the 83rd minute, Valdes denying Deeney in a one-on-one situation.

There was one last chance for the Hornets in the dying stages of the contest, but Valdes was having none of it as he snapped up Miguel Britos' headed effort.

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