Jonathan Woodgate defended his Bournemouth players after a mass brawl marred their crucial 1-0 home victory over promotion rivals Watford.
Watford forward Joao Pedro and Bournemouth midfielder Jack Wilshere were both sent off in the stoppage-time fracas which saw coaching staff and substitutes from both camps spill onto the pitch.
The melee came after Arnaut Danjuma had set Bournemouth on the road to victory with his seventh goal of the season 17 minutes into the second half.
Bournemouth head coach Woodgate said: “It did not look great, but that’s football and it was two teams very passionate and two sets of players who wanted to win
“It happens all the time in rugby and does not get talked about it but when it happens in football, everyone talks about it.”
It was only Bournemouth’s second home win over Watford since 1977 and Woodgate added: “We have to see that win as bedrock to climb up the table and it showed this team can fight.
“I want a hard under-belly, not a soft one and I want teams to know this is going to be a hard place to come and play.”
Bournemouth were boosted by the return of top scorer Dominic Solanke after six games out with an ankle injury.
But neither goalkeeper was tested until 11 minutes before half-time when Lloyd Kelly’s angled drive was turned over the crossbar by Watford’s Daniel Bachmann.
Danjuma came close to opening the scoring in the 55th minute when his goal-bound shot was cleared off the line by Francisco Sierralta.
Dutchman Danjuma was then denied by a sprawling save from Bachmann following a quick counter-attack.
Asmir Begovic then repeated Bachmann’s heroics by denying Tom Cleverley after Watford broke quickly themselves.
Watford could have been reduced to 10 men when Nathaniel Chalobah appeared to slap Jefferson Lerma in the face but was let off with a yellow card.
From the resulting free-kick, Steve Cook launched a 50-yard ball forward to release Danjuma to fire past Bachmann at his near post from a tight angle.
The closest Watford came to an equaliser was when Ismaila Sarr fired wide after racing in behind Kelly.
The match ended in ugly scenes sparked by Joao Pedro’s late tackle on Lerma, which resulted in a second booking and red card for the Watford man.
Wilshere followed soon after following a butt of heads with former England team-mate Cleverley.
Both clubs are likely to face FA sanctions for the incident.
Watford manager Xisco Munoz said: “Football is an emotional game. I want to only speak about positive things about my team. We tried to play in the last second.
“I am disappointed with the result but not the performance. My team was ambitious and played very hard.
“I said to the guys, ‘we need to keep going,’ because we were in a very good moment with four wins in a row. This is not easy in the Championship.”
On Joao Pedro’s sending off, Xisco added: “I can see why he received the red card.”
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