Middlesbrough 1-1 Watford: Substitute Yannick Bolasie scores late equalizer after Ismaila Sarr’s opener as Hornets take a hit in championship title
- Yannick Bolasie scored Middlesbrough’s equalizer in their 1–1 draw against Watford
- Ismaila Sarr had put Watford ahead after 32 minutes, but they couldn’t keep it up
- Watford is five points behind leader Norwich, who has a game in hand
- Middlesbrough is ninth in the table, six points behind the play-off spots
Do you remember Yannick Bolasie? He was once a £ 25 million winger and one of the most in-demand players in the Premier League.
The Everton lender watched most of the game from the bench while his Middlesbrough teammates did not put any effort on the goal.
But then, at 78 minutes and shortly after his late introduction, Bolasie headed his first goal in English football in two and a half years, saving a point for his side.
Yannick Bolasie (right) celebrates after equalizing for Middlesbrough against Watford
Ismaila Sarr is congratulated by his Watford teammates after putting his side in the lead
Middlesbrough: Bettinelli; Fisher, Hall, McNair, Bola; Howson, Morsy (Coulson 30); Spence, Saville, Kebano (Bolasie 73); Watmore (Akpom 73)
Subs: Archer, Johnson, Fletcher, Mendez-Laing, Coburn
Target: Bolasie 78
Watford wrote: Bachmann; Femenia, Troost-Ekong, Sierralta, Masina; Chalobah, Hughes, Zinckernagel (Gosling 77); Sarr, Joao Pedro, Sema (Success 83)
Subs: Foster, Ngakia, Cathcart, Lazaar, Gray, Kabasele, Sanchez
Target: Sarr 32
His equalizing goal mattered more to Watford than to Neil Warnock’s Boro, who really needed a win to revive their play-off hopes.
But for the visitors to Xisco Munoz, the two-point loss in their pursuit of automatic promotion – and a seventh consecutive win – will be clearly felt, especially as Bolasi’s goal was the only shot they got in the entire game.
It puts Watford 10 points ahead of third-seeded Brentford for Monday afternoon’s games.
Lunch kick-offs are often quiet affairs. Factor in a holiday and no crowd and the first half hour here was like the footballing equivalent of general anesthetic.
In fact, the only significant first-half moment was Watford’s goal in 32 minutes.
Its tousled nature was entirely consistent with a low-quality match.
Watford winger Ken Sema saw his low fight saved by Marcus Bettinelli, but when the ball went free, defender Marc Bola hopelessly swept at Philip Zinckernagel on the edge of the area.
There was a suspicion that he used his arm to check before returning a shot that Bettinelli would no doubt have collected.
The ball was deflected at Sarr after an attempt by his teammate Philip Zinckernagel
That was until it was changed course by the unsuspecting ankle of Ismaila Sarr, who gratefully accepted his 10th goal of the season.
Boro protested against both the handball and Sarr’s apparent offside position.
But the assistant referee remained steadfast and right, as two Boro defenders had been slow to clear the area and sidelined the goalscorer. Zinckernail’s rashness was more debatable, however.
Middlesbrough’s Duncan Watmore remains dejected after missing an opportunity to find the net
It wasn’t until the 72nd minute that Watford came close to adding a second when Joao Pedro swept the base off the post from 12 yards away.
And they paid the price when Bolasie’s head emerged amid a crowd of bodies to make contact with Paddy McNair’s free kick.
At least it served as a reminder of the 31-year-old’s existence.