Substitute Odion Ighalo rescued Watford from an FA Cup fourth-round replay with Nottingham Forest, and manager Quique Sanchez Flores felt his introduction was always likely to conjure up a late winner.
The Nigerian pounced on Kelvin Wilson’s mistake in the 89th minute to score his 15th of the season and earn the Hornets a 1-0 win at the City Ground against a Forest side who were unbeaten in 13 games.
In a contest between two sides featuring 15 changes to their starting line-ups between them there were few opportunities until Wilson failed to clear Allan Nyom’s cross and the ball fell straight to Ighalo, who made the difference in his 18-minute cameo.
“With Ighalo it looks easier to score; when Ighalo is on the pitch it is like the opportunity to score is easier,” Sanchez Flores said.
“But it was also difficult to score. Nottingham Forest defended deep for a long time during the match, it was difficult to find the space. We tried, we crossed a lot, we played football, go inside the box a lot of times but finally Ighalo scored.
“In the last 20 minutes we thought that with Ighalo and (Jose Manuel) Jurado we can maybe get one step more because they were the most offensive players we had on the bench.”
Goalkeeper Costel Pantilimon and forward Nordin Amrabat were handed full debuts as the visitors shuffled their pack, with the latter seeing a sweetly-struck volley repelled by goalkeeper Dorus de Vries in the second period.
And they are set to be joined by another new arrival before the close of the transfer window on Monday as Sanchez Flores confirmed a deal for Fiorentina’s Mario Suarez is close to going through.
“I think it’s practically done, maybe little details but I consider that this player is practically a player of Watford,” Sanchez Flores revealed. “Mario Suarez is really, really close.”