Wolves moved four points clear of Watford in the race for seventh place in the Premier League as goals from Raul Jimenez and Diogo Jota helped Nuno Espirito Santo’s side earn all three points at Vicarage Road.
Jimenez opened the scoring with his 13th league goal of the season, turning Jota’s low cross past Ben Foster from point-blank range.
Andre Gray capitalised on an error from Ryan Bennett to equalise for Watford shortly after the restart, but a mistake from Foster allowed Wolves to retake the lead with 13 minutes remaining.
Foster misjudged Ruben Neves’ long ball into the Watford penalty area, allowing Jota to tap into the unguarded net to seal the win for the visitors.
The result lifts Wolves on to 54 points, while Watford drop to ninth.
Seventh heaven for Wolves?
With two games remaining, Wolves are on course to finish as the ‘best of the rest’ in the Premier League table behind the current ‘big six’.
It has been a magnificent campaign for Nuno’s side and they will take the last available European spot if they hold on to seventh place and Manchester City beat Watford in the FA Cup final next month.
The first half at Vicarage Road was a far cry from the drama of the FA Cup semi-final three weeks ago, with both teams struggling to create clear-cut chances in a pedestrian opening.
Jimenez nearly put the visitors in front shortly after the half-hour mark when he got on the end of Leander Dendoncker’s low cross, but Etienne Capoue magnificently cleared the ball off the line.
The Mexican made no mistake moments later, though, heading Jota’s teasing delivery into the net via Ben Foster’s outstretched left leg to break the deadlock.
The goal was Jimenez’s 13th in the league this term – no other Wolves player has ever scored more in a single Premier League season.
Watford started the second half with added urgency and deservedly drew level following Bennett’s error, but the visitors continued to create the better openings and retook the lead when Jota took advantage of Foster’s lapse in concentration to volley home the winner.
Wolves need one more win to become the first newly promoted side to finish in the top eight since Reading did so in 2005-06.
Toothless Watford fall short
Watford needed a superb comeback to defeat Wolves at Wembley earlier this month, but there was to be no late revival on this occasion as Javi Gracia’s 50th Premier League game in charge of the Hornets ended in defeat.
The hosts took a while to get going but showed glimpses of their attacking potential as the first half wore on.
Gerard Deulofeu, who delivered a sensational display against Wolves at Wembley three weeks ago, fired harmlessly wide after being played through by Roberto Pereyra, before Will Hughes headed Adrian Mariappa’s delivery over the crossbar.
Gracia’s side were gifted a route back into the game four minutes into the second half. Bennett’s loose ball was intercepted by Deulofeu, who attempted to round Watford goalkeeper Rui Patricio.
The Portuguese custodian got a hand to the ball, but Gray was on hand to lash home the equaliser for his seventh league goal of the campaign.
Unfortunately for the hosts, that proved to be their only shot on target in the whole 90 minutes.
If the Hornets finish outside the top seven, they will have to beat Manchester City in next month’s FA Cup final to qualify for Europe.
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