Fulham have been relegated from the Premier League with five games still to play after being hammered by Watford at Vicarage Road. The Cottagers needed to avoid defeat to put off their inevitable demotion for another week and were level at half-time, Ryan Babel having equalised after Abdoulaye Doucoure’s stunning opener for the Hornets.
Javi Gracia made two substitutions at the interval, and his tactical alteration paved the way for a dominant second period for the hosts as Will Hughes’ superb volley helped them regain the lead (63). Visibly deflated by the setback, Watford substitute Andre Gray took full advantage to set up Troy Deeney for a simple third (69) before laying off for Kiko Femenia to compound Fulham’s misery (75).
Fulham’s resolve, which had held up impressively after the first goal, completely crumbled. Gray set up easy finishes for the unmarked Troy Deeney and the insultingly ignored Kiko Femenía – with Doucouré again losing a battle with a teammate for the right to administer the coup de grâce. Watford scored three times in 12 minutes and could have had as many more again, and though Sessegnon and the substitute Jean Michaël Seri had chances, all Fulham got was misery.
It did not help Fulham’s cause, on the night, that Watford have an FA Cup semi-final to be preparing for, and places in the side up for grabs. It was telling that Andre Gray came off the bench to inspire Javi Gracia’s side, creating two of their three strikes in the second half.