WATFORD, England (Reuters) -American Josh Sargent’s first goals in English football helped Norwich City earn a crucial 3-0 victory at Watford on Friday, a win that moved Dean Smith’s side out of the Premier League relegation zone for the first time this season.
Sargent’s stunning flicked finish six minutes after the break gave the visitors the lead as he opened his Premier League account in style.
Following a bizarre break in play as several floodlights went out, Sargent’s night to remember continued as he drilled in from distance to double his side’s advantage in the 74th minute.
Watford’s bad luck continued as Emmanuel Dennis was sent off four minutes later after collecting his second yellow card.
The hosts’ miserable evening was complete when Juraj Kucka’s stoppage-time own goal handed the visitors a 3-0 win.
Norwich’s fourth win of the season lifted them to 17th with 16 points from 22 matches. Watford dropped to 18th, with 14 points from 20 games.
“To get my first goal, and then the second one after that was pretty crazy, especially in such a big game,” Sargent told Sky Sports.
“It was just a reaction to put my foot up like that (for first goal). I knew right away it was in when I hit it. I can’t remember ever scoring a goal like that. Getting these first goals will boost my confidence a lot.”
While Norwich continued their improvement under Smith, Claudio Ranieri’s Watford remain in freefall.
They are without a win in nine games in all competitions – earning just one draw and suffering eight losses in that run. It is their longest spell without a victory since December 2013.
Ranieri’s men have now also gone 30 Premier League games without a clean sheet, with only West Bromwich Albion enduring a longer such run in the history of the competition.
“Before everything I want to say sorry to our crowd,” Ranieri told Sky Sports. “We wanted to do another kind of match, we wanted to light the fire to our fans and we did not do this.
“We had some opportunities to score a goal but the first goal was very strange. After that we had the time to do something better, we didn’t do this.”
(Reporting by Peter Hall, editing by Pritha Sarkar)