(Reuters) - Aston Villa scored with almost the last kick of the game to seal a 2-1 comeback win over Watford at Villa Park on Tuesday that lifted Dean Smith’s men out of the Premier League relegation zone - and dumped Nigel Pearson’s men back in it.
The last-gasp win lifted Villa to 16th place in the table with 25 points from 24 games. By contrast, Watford, who had hauled themselves out of the relegation zone with a string of wins since Pearson’s arrival in December, dropped back to 19th on 23 points.
With the game tied at 1-1, the Birmingham side had been set to drop a place in the table while Watford would have climbed one.
But they swapped places when, after a goalmouth scramble in the 95th minute, the ball fell to Ezri Konsa who struck a fierce shot which took a deflection off team mate Tyrone Mings and sailed in to give the hosts what could be a pivotal victory in their bid to stay up.
“The lads showed plenty of endeavour, kept pushing and got the result tonight. It’s a big win, we know there are big games to come and every game is tough,” Smith told the BBC.
“It does give the players a lot of belief.”
Watford had opened the scoring in the 38th minute when Gerard Deulofeu dashed towards the goal line, spun to his left and chipped the ball over towards Troy Deeney who headed powerfully past Villa goalkeeper Pepe Reina from close range.
The home side, playing without a recognised striker for the fourth straight match due to injuries to Wesley Moraes and Keinan Davis, dominated possession and kept pushing forward, with Jack Grealish in particular looking lively.
Villa’s work paid off in the 68th minute when Watford keeper Ben Foster parried a Matt Targett shot from a tight angle back across the goal and into the path of substitute Douglas Luiz who blasted the ball into the roof of the net.
Despite decent chances for both sides, the game had been looking set to end all square until Reina launched the ball up the field for a final Villa push that led to Konsa’s shot.
The 22-year-old defender appeared to have scored his first ever goal for Villa, but due to the heavy deflection off Mings the goal instead was attributed to his England international team mate.
Reporting by Hugh Lawson; Editing by Christian Radnedge