Watford head coach Xisco Munoz bemoaned his side’s luck in an “incredible” Carabao Cup third-round tie which saw the Hornets knocked out by second-tier Stoke.
Ashley Fletcher had equalised for the Premier League outfit after Nick Powell’s opener but Stoke would leave Vicarage Road victorious as Sam Clucas and Josh Tymon struck from distance to seal a 3-1 win for the Sky Bet Championship team.
Munoz changed his entire starting XI from the weekend win at Norwich but the majority of his fringe players failed to impress, while Stoke recovered from their loss at beleaguered Derby last time out.
Despite his wholesale changes, Munoz insisted he was keen to advance in the cup after seeing his side have 26 shots over the course of the evening.
“Our first idea was to continue with the cup, this was our objective,” he said.
“These games sometimes happen and today was the day.”
Asked if he felt his side had been unfortunate to lose, the Spaniard replied: “Today is incredible.
“The game was perfect (for them)…the goalkeeper saved incredible balls, we hit the post, we missed the chances.
“Sometimes that happens in football and we need to keep going and the positive thing is that we worked really well today and we missed a lot of chances – but sometimes that is football.
“In the second half we played the complete game, had control of the game and I don’t know how many chances in the second half.
“I think today only we can say that it was an incredible game because I have no other words about this.”
Stoke also made changes, six in total from defeat at Pride Park, and manager Michael O’Neill admits he now has positive selection headaches having been impressed by those who came into his team.
“I’m delighted it was a really good performance, we showed all sides of our character throughout today,” he said.
“We knew we would come under pressure in the second half, which was the case, but once they levelled we showed a great reaction – we had to defend for 10 or 15 minutes but then we came into the game again.
“It gives me a headache, it’s a nice headache to have.
“We get a chance now we’re going into another three games in six days and we have to make sure that we take the application we saw tonight and the attitude, into the game – league games are always a different proposition but we take a lot from tonight’s game.”
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