LONDON (AFP) – Etienne Capoue’s goal in first-half stoppage time was enough to give Watford a 1-0 win away to Queens Park Rangers early yesterday that saw the Hornets advance to the quarter-finals of the FA Cup.
Both sides had opportunities in an even opening period that belied the fact that Watford are eighth in the Premier League and QPR 18th in the second-tier Championship following a run of five straight league defeats.
“I enjoyed the goal,” Capoue told BT Sport. “It was teamwork. We worked all the way through the game. We are so proud.
“Everyone is on the same page. The players give everything and they showed in the match what they can give on the pitch.”
Watford goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes marked his 38th birthday with several fine saves at Loftus Road as QPR’s Matt Smith and Nahki Wells both went close for the west London club.
But Daryl Janmaat had a good chance for Watford, the losing finalists in the 1984 FA Cup final, before the visitors took the lead when French midfielder Capoue, inside the box, volleyed into the far corner through a crowd of players following a corner kick.
Watford should have doubled their lead with fewer than 20 minutes left.
Troy Deeney played in Andre Gray and the striker rounded the goalkeeper before finishing into an empty net, only for the goal to be disallowed for offside.
Replays showed that it should have stood but, in the absence of a Video Assistant Referee (VAR), the score remained 1-0.
QPR, beaten finalists in the 1982 FA Cup final, almost equalised late on but Toni Leistner missed an open goal as he slid in at the back post. That was as good as it got for QPR, managed by former England boss Steve McClaren.
“We’re not far way,” McClaren told the BBC. “We are close, we just need the rub of the green.”
The remainder of the fifth round ties will take place today and tomorrow. Tuesday will see FA Cup holders Chelsea play Manchester United in a repeat of last season’s final.
With one of the Premier League’s big guns bound to go out, the draw for the sixth round could yet favour Watford.