Heurelho Gomes was Watford’s hero as he saved two second-half penalties from Saido Berahino in a 1-0 win at West Brom.
Gomes had been in fine form all afternoon, producing smart saves to twice thwart Stephane Sessegnon in the first half and acrobatically deny Gareth McAluey shortly after half-time.
But the Brazilian saved his best work to torment Berahino. First he made amends for his own error by diving to his right to beat away the West Brom striker’s first penalty after 67 minutes and then repeated the feat 20 minutes later, launching himself the other way to palm away the spot-kick.
His heroics ensured that Ben Watson’s 27th-minute goal would be enough for Watford to earn all three points and record only a third victory in their last 16 Barclays Premier League outings.
A laboured start to the game was broken after 17 minutes when Adlene Guedioura’s low shot from the edge of area went narrowly wide.
Sessegnon’s well-hit free-kick brought a parrying save from Gomes before the West Brom attacker then put the rebound wide.
Shortly afterwards Watford were ahead. Guedioura’s corner was steered into the far corner of the net by former Albion loan player Watson.
West Brom responded well to the setback and James McClean burst past two defenders before getting caught in two minds about whether to shoot or try to cross the ball for Berahino. In the end he did neither and a good position was wasted.
Just before half-time some neat build-up play between Craig Dawson and Salomon Rondon resulted in a shooting opportunity for Sessegnon but his effort was brilliantly diverted wide by the fingertips of Gomes.
McClean sent a shot into the side-netting within a minute of the restart before another fingertip save from Gomes, this time to help McAuley’s header over the crossbar.
At the other end, Ben Foster produced a similarly fine save to deny Watford captain Troy Deeney.
You sensed the hosts were in the ascendancy but they could just not find a way past Gomes, who was having a fine game.
He blotted his copybook as the midway-point of the second half approached by rushing out and bringing down Berahino. However, he redeemed himself by saving the West Brom striker’s penalty.
Albion applied some late pressure and it looked like they would be rewarded when Etienne Capoue tripped McClean for a second penalty.
Berahino showed bravery by grabbing the ball, keen to make amends, but once more he saw his effort saved by Gomes as the FA Cup semi-finalists hung on for the three points.