Joao Pedro leveller stuns Newcastle to earn Watford last-gasp point
Allan Saint-Maximin had fired the Magpies in front four minutes into the second half.
By Damian Spellman, PA
Joao Pedro snatched a priceless victory from Newcastle’s grasp as Watford struck late to deny them a foothold in the fight for Premier League survival.
The Portuguese frontman headed the Hornets level three minutes from time to stun the locals among a crowd of 52,223 at St James’ Park and claim a 1-1 draw.
Eddie Howe’s men, who had £25million signing Chris Wood among their number for the first time, looked to have won it through Allan Saint-Maximin’s superb 49th-minute strike, but they retreated as the visitors sought a way back into the game and ultimately were made to pay for their passivity.
Newcastle started with real tempo as Sean Longstaff forced an early corner and Saint-Maximin sent a dangerous ball across the six-yard box, although Emmanuel Dennis passed up a promising opportunity for the visitors when he drilled a sixth-minute free-kick straight into the defensive wall after Jonjo Shelvey had been booked for a trip on Juraj Kucka.
The Magpies were denied by the crossbar after Joelinton had flicked Ryan Fraser’s deflected 11th-minute cross towards goal, but they were spared four minutes later when, after Saint-Maximin had squandered possession on halfway, Josh King fired into the side-netting from Pedro’s through-ball.
Joelinton volleyed wide at the far post after Fraser and Longstaff had worked a short corner and Wood sent a looping header over from another Fraser cross, with the home side exerting the more consistent pressure.
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The New Zealand international was unable to hit the target once again after Jamaal Lascelles had headed Kieran Trippier’s 24th-minute corner towards goal and Fabian Schar failed to work goalkeeper Ben Foster when he got his head to Trippier’s inviting free-kick seven minutes later.
Longstaff lifted a left-foot shot high over the bar after Saint-Maximin, who had until that point endured a frustrating afternoon, had made progress down the left and pulled the ball back.
Hornets debutant Samir headed tamely at Martin Dubravka in first-half stoppage time as the deadlock remained unbroken.
However, it did so for only four minutes longer and, perhaps fittingly for a a game which had become increasingly scrappy, the opening goal arrived courtesy of an error.
Full-back Jeremy Ngakia was robbed by Saint-Maximin as he chased down Shelvey’s hopeful ball forward, but what followed was of much higher quality as the Frenchman cut inside menacingly before blasting a vicious shot past the helpless Foster.
Watford responded and Dubravka had to claw a lofted Pedro shot from underneath his crossbar before denying King as he raced through on goal seconds later.
And, with the Hornets’ adopting a more adventurous approach in the search for an equaliser, the game started to open up.
Newcastle old boy Moussa Sissoko should have levelled from Dennis’ 67th-minute pass but stabbed his shot wastefully wide, and it was left to Pedro to snatch a point three minutes from time with a fine header from substitute Kiko Femenia’s cross.