Deulofeu hat trick fires Watford to big win

Watford’s Gerard Deulofeu celebrates at the end of the Premier League match against Cardiff City at Cardiff City Stadium Friday. — Reuters

CARDIFF — Spaniard Gerard Deulofeu bagged a hat trick as Watford hammered lowly Cardiff City 5-1 Friday to move up to seventh place in the Premier League.

Deulofeu put Javi Gracia’s side ahead in the 18th minute with a well-placed finish after a mistake from Cardiff defender Bruno Manga.

Cardiff should have had a penalty when Daryl Janmaat’s rash challenge brought down Josh Murphy but Watford ran away with the game after the break.

Deulofeu made it 2-0 with a clinical finish, rounding Cardiff keeper Neil Etheridge after a swift break in the 61st minute.

The former Barcelona and Everton winger completed his hat trick after more poor defending from Neil Warnock’s side — Harry Arta gave the ball away in midfield and Deulofeu’s calm finish gave him Watford’s first top-flight hat trick since Mark Falco in 1986.

Deulofeu then turned creator, bursting into the box and unselfishly teeing up Troy Deeney for a simple tap-in as Watford romped into a four-goal advantage.

Cardiff, which is 17th, pulled a goal back through defender Sol Bamba, who bundled the ball in following a scramble at a corner.

But Watford added further punishment with Deeney’s second in stoppage time after good work from Will Hughes.

Piatek on target again

AC Milan continued its impressive run of form as second-half goals gave it a 3-0 win over Empoli in Serie A Friday.

Gennaro Gattuso’s fourth-placed side is now unbeaten in its last eight league matches and the latest victory moved it within a point of third-placed Inter Milan.

Polish striker Krysztof Piatek, who has made an explosive start to his time at the club, put Milan in front at the San Siro with his seventh goal in five games since joining the from Genoa in January.

Piatek, who had been too isolated in the first half, reacted well four minutes after the interval to slide the ball home after a neat passing move from the Rossoneri.

Two minutes later Franck Kessie doubled the lead for Milan with a deft chip after a fine run and through ball from Spanish winger Samu Castillejo.

The lively Castillejo added the third, meeting a low cross from Andrea Conti with an angled side-foot finish.

It could have been four for Milan when Fabio Borini had the ball in the net but the effort was disallowed for offside following a VAR review. — Agencies