Watford manager Javi Gracia has praised the effort of his players despite seeing his side go down 2-1 loss to Chelsea on Boxing Day evening.

After frustrating Chelsea for the majority of the first half, Watford fell behind at Vicarage Road  to a sumptuous counter-attack goal from Eden Hazard. 

However, the hosts responded immediately and levelled through an excellent volley from Roberto Pereyra. Despite trailing yet again as Hazard converted a second-half penalty, Watford pushed for an equaliser and forced several mistakes from Chelsea's defenders.

Speaking after the match, Gracia admitted he was impressed with the work rate of his squad, highlighting the difficulty of coming up against players in the class of Eden Hazard.

"It is difficult against Chelsea, but I am proud of the effort from the players," Gracia began, as quoted by football.london

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"It was difficult when you are running a lot and it was a moment when we lost the ball, it was a shame in the second half. We conceded the second.

"Players like WillianKanteHazardPedro can do something different. We tried to be constant and different and defend well. Sometimes pressing high we had to be compact. If you take the chances you have then maybe you take the points.

"It is difficult to stop [Hazard], it is different if you stop him as a number nine or on the left. He is a player with special quality, speed and skill. It is difficult to stop not only him but we have to work hard."


Defeat means Watford missed the opportunity to move up to seventh in the Premier League table. Instead, they remain ninth in the table, and will be keen to get back to winning ways when they welcome Newcastle United to Vicarage Road on Saturday.