Javi Gracia's Watford progressed to the Quarter-Finals of the FA Cup for the second time in four seasons as they beat Queens Park Rangers to become the first team in the hat for the next round.
Story of the game
After a lacklustre opening 25 minutes, Daryl Janmaat opened the chances with a first shot of the game, which was fired narrowly over the bar.
Just 2 minutes later, Massimo Luongo struck slightly wide of the post following Hereulho Gomes' punch away. On the 40th minute, an error from the Jose Holebas allowed QPR to break quickly - with Luke Freeman at the heart of the move and Nahki Wells having his smart volley tapped importantly away by Gomes for a QPR corner.
Just as it looked like the two sides would be going into the first half goalless, Tom Cleverley's mishit fell rather beautifully to Etienne Capoue, who knocked the ball sweetly into the bottom right corner in the 1st minute of stoppage time.
In the second-half, it was the Rangers who would have felt that they should have got something from this one. Wells again had a chance, following Christian Kabasele's dreadful pass, but he sent his shot from just outside the box curling just wide.
Andre Gray did make it 2-0 in the 72nd minute, rounding Joe Lumley and coolly slotting home before he was controversially judged to have been offside.
Watford so nearly lost their lead in the 87th minute as Toni Leistner wondered what could have been for the home side; he missed an open goal with his touch, sending the ball hopelessly wide of the goalposts.
In the end, though, it was Watford who progressed; with QPR's missed opportunities failing to see them knock-out the Premier League side.
Takeaways from the evening
QPR's worrying form continues
Tonight's defeat means that the Rangers have now lost six of their last eight games in all competitions. It could have been a lot different had they put their chances away; but they failed at that, and Leistner's miss at the end of the game suggests that they really should have picked up something against a poor Watford side. They squandered an opportunity in a game which, had they converted their numerous chances, would have seen them progress to the Quarter-Finals for the first time in nearly 25 years. The West London side will have to wait another year at least for that opportunity again.
Watford were poor, but clinical
For this game, it's fair to say that Javi Gracia's men were second-best for much of the going. However, another thing that's fair to say is that the Hornets would not have won that game in previous seasons. They only had 2 key chances; with Janmaat going relatively close early on and Capoue's goal. That's excluding Gray's wrongly-ruled offside goal. Watford seem to have got something clinical about them in recent weeks - not in all cases, it must be said - and that was on show today. You have to feel though, as Troy Deeney said in his post-match interview with BT Sport, that Watford may not have won that game in seasons prior. And a place in the Quarter-Finals now awaits.
The Warm Down - Javi Gracia has changed Watford
The main man has sat in charge of the Hornets for over a year now - and there was speculation at the end of last season whether he would be in the hot seat for the 2018-19 season at all following a poor run of form. He did continue in that role; and since the start of this season, he's been rewarded with Manager of the Month for August, a new 4-and-a-half year contract, a race for the Europa League and a Quarter-Final spot in the FA Cup. It's correct to say that it hasn't been a bad year at all for the Spaniard.
Gracia has changed Watford for the better. The positivity emitting from the club at this moment in time has been unknown to many Watford fans in recent years. The squad depth seems to be improving, with this game showcasing that - a mix of the full-strength squad and also the cup squad producing results. It was one of the poorer performances so far this season, but they held on and won, which is all that matters. Their form is superb in recent weeks, with the New Year slip seemingly converting into a boost of form - one defeat since Boxing Day tells as much. The Hornets have much to look forward to, and a tough match away at the Cardiff City Stadium awaits in Wales under the lights again next Friday evening.
Meanwhile, QPR will be hoping to end their - comparatively - dreadful streak as they take on West Bromwich Albion at Loftus Road in the Championship on Tuesday evening.