Report | Swansea City 2 Watford 1
Jamal Lowe struck a superb double as Swansea City came from behind to start 2021 with victory over Watford, and climb to second in the Championship table.
Tom Cleverley had given the Hornets the lead, but the Swans took control of the contest and levelled with a lovely strike from the in-form Lowe.
And the striker completed the turnaround in the second half as he headed home his eighth goal of the season, taking his recent tally to six in six games.
After the frustration of the midweek draw with Reading, this was a performance that got its deserved reward with three points as the season reaches its halfway point.
The Swans were forced into a late change as Joel Latibeaudiere – who had been set to start in place of Ryan Bennett – was injured in the warm-up.
Ryan Manning came in, with Jake Bidwell moving to centre-half and Oli Cooper being promoted to the bench.
Also among the substitutes was Morgan Gibbs-White, who was part of a matchday squad for the first time since October following a foot fracture.
The Swans came close to an opening in the seventh minute, with a switch of play allowed Jay Fulton and Connor Roberts to combine.
The Wales international fired the ball across the box, and Korey Smith just failed to get enough on it to find the net.
Freddie Woodman then denied Andre Gray from close range after Ben Wilmot had swung in a cross after good pressing work.
The Swans responded, Andre Ayew heading over a Manning cross, but Watford took the lead on 20 minutes when the ball kindly for Cleverley on the edge of the area, and his strike found the bottom corner.
The hosts then had penalty appeals waved away when Connor Roberts went down under pressure from Nathaniel Chalobah.
Referee Darren Bond awarded a corner instead, and Swansea nearly levelled from the set-piece as Jay Fulton fired just wide from another Roberts centre.
Swansea went closer again 10 minutes before the break, Ayew superbly controlling a cross to create a yard of space, but Ben Foster showed fine reflexes to tip his strike over the bar.
Foster made another superb save a few moments later, batting away Smith’s hooked shot, but the Swans got their reward four minutes before the break.
There appeared to be little on when Lowe picked the ball up on the edge of the box, but the forward feinted right and then curled home a superb curling strike via the inside of the far post.
It ensured the scores were level at the break and the Swans started the second half on the front foot, too.
They nearly took the lead eight minutes into the second half as Manning and Roberts nearly ted up Smith, before the ball flew into the net as Bidwell met a cross from Roberts only for the flag to go up.
The home side were firmly on top and Ayew saw a header blocked as Matt Grimes swung in a corner, and they took a deserved lead in the 67th minute.
Smith produced an excellent deep cross that left Foster unsure whether to come to claim it, and Lowe snuck in at the far post to nod in.
Watford sought a response, with Ken Sema and Ismaila Sarr delivering threatening crosses without any yellow shirts being on hand to apply a finishing touch.
Sema volleyed over from a Sarr cross, while Foster did well to hold a deflected shot from Grimes inside the final few minutes.
And the Swans calmly saw out the three minutes of stoppage time to claim a valuable three points and a notable victory over a Watford side still boasting a number of players who featured in the Premier League last season.
Swansea City: Freddie Woodman; Ben Cabango, Marc Guehi, Jake Bidwell; Connor Roberts, Korey Smith, Jay Fulton, Matt Grimes (captain), Ryan Manning (Morgan Gibbs-White 84); Jamal Lowe, Andre Ayew.
Unused Substitutes: Steven Benda, Viktor Gyokeres, Wayne Routledge, Yan Dhanda, Cameron Evans, Jordon Garrick, Kasey Palmer, Oli Cooper.
Watford: Ben Foster, Jeremy Ngakia (Adam Masina 46), Ben Wilmot, Tom Cleverley (Will Hughes 90), Troy Deeney (captain), Ken Sema, Nathaniel Chalobah (James Garner 60), Andre Gray, Kiko Femenia, Ismaila Sarr, Francisco Sierralta.
Unused Substitutes: Daniel Bachmann, William Troost Ekong, Marc Navarro, Sam Dalby, Joseph Hungbo, Kane Crichlow.
Referee: Darren Bond