Watford maintained their slim hopes of snatching the Championship’s second automatic promotion spot with a nervy win at play-off hopefuls Leicester.
Chalobah’s bolt from the blue saw Watford quickly double their lead in the 43rd minute, when loose control from Adbi saw the ball roll into the path of the Chelsea man who silenced the King Power Stadium with a rocket of a right-foot shot from 25 yards that hit the back of the net via the underside of the bar, leaving Schmeichel stranded.
Attention now turns to South Yorkshire, and what is likely to be as tense a game as has been played in the Championship this season. Barnsley are fighting for their lives, and Hull’s form in recent weeks has been not so much poor as wretched, but their fate is in their hands and if Steve Bruce can drag one more performance out of his players it will be enough. Otherwise they may find they need to beat champions Cardiff at the KC Stadium on the final day of the season, because on this form Watford will be strong favourites to win their last match, at home to Leeds United.
“I’ll be relaxing and drinking a bottle of wine now while the Hull game is on,” Zola joked. “Nathaniel scores some good ones in training. That one was special. We were talking about incredible goals with him in the morning, such as Frank Lampard against Barcelona.
Nathaniel Chalobah’s strike merits a thunk all to itself, obviously. At least a thunk. There’s nothing quite as satisfying as a piledriver that’s still rising as it hits the roof of the net. Perhaps smacking it in off the underside of the crossbar constitutes a marginal improvement – work to do there, Nathaniel – but this minor failing was offset by the fact that nobody saw this coming, least of all Kasper Schmeichel. The cannonball wasn’t preceded by a telegraphed lay-off, nobody was rising in anticipation as the ball was struck – indeed we were still in the post-celebration jubilant singing bit following Deeney’s goal two minutes earlier. We were flattened as comprehensively as if the shot had caught us in the midriff, stunned… and then ecstatic with disbelief. Even at half-time in a boisterous, giddy concourse strangers were grinning at each other and shaking their heads.