By 90Min
December 23, 2018

Javi Gracia heaped the praise on his players as they edged out West Ham 2-0 at the London Stadium in a close-fought encounter.

The game began an even affair with both sides looking to get forward, but it was the visitors who got their noses in front. Roberto Pereyra won a penalty for his team after he was brought down by Fabian Balbuena in the box, with captain Troy Deeney stepping up and smashing the ball into the top corner to give his side the lead.

Christopher Lee/GettyImages

West Ham began piling the pressure on in the second half and created a number of golden opportunities, however they couldn't take any of them. They were ultimately made to pay as Gerard Deulofeu rounded Lukasz Fabianski and tucked the ball into an empty net with three minutes remaining to secure a hard-fought 2-0 win for Watford.

Speaking to Sky Sports after the game, Gracia admitted that whilst he knew it would be a tough ask to defeat an in-form West Ham side, he was delighted with his side's performance on the day. He said: "I think we had a good performance. We knew playing against West Ham, in this good moment for them, that it would be demanding and it was like we thought.

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"I try to keep my smile every day, not only when we win. But today I have a special reason because we have played very well. It was a very good performance here and we got another clean. To win against West Ham is always difficult but, in this situation, after four straight win, it was very special.

"It was good for us to get another clean sheet. It's something good for us. We worked on it through the week and we've got the reward."

There was one moment in the game where the emotion looked to get the better of Deeney. After he scored, he ran to the corner half before punching it out of the ground and appeared to shout something towards the West Ham fans. Whilst just one fan seemingly reacted to the incident, Gracia went on to defend his captain by praising his commitment to the Hornets.

He added: "What I saw was that after the goal he was running to the corner. I don't know what he said. I can't tell you if it's a good or bad celebration, I often see players running into the corner.

"I like the way he plays, his commitment, all the things he does day by day. Like all the players he maybe makes mistakes but he is our captain and an important player for us."

Christopher Lee/GettyImages

Watford have now earned back-to-back wins, and will be keen to make it three successive wins when they host Chelsea on Wednesday night in the Premier League.

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