Costel Pantilimon would be advised to dig out his big winter coat, his snood and his beanie hat as he looks set for another season on the bench with Heurelho Gomes in this kind of form.
Gomes wasn’t quite the hero at the Liberty stadium as that would make it sound like it was a backs-to-the-wall afternoon and that he had to pull off save after save. It wasn’t that sort of game. But when he was called upon, the big Brazilian again showed why he is the best signing of the Pozzo era.
He flung himself to his left to make sure the dangerous Mo Barrow wasn’t going to hit the target; he read that Gylfi Sigurdsson was trying to bend a 22nd-minute shot into the top corner and dived high to his right to catch the ball mid air; was in the right place to save a disappointing effort from the same well-placed player in the second half but the pick of the lot was the right leg he instinctively stuck out to deny Mike van der Hoorn from point-blank range. The Dutchman couldn’t believe he hadn’t scored.
Typically modest, Gomes felt he was just doing what he’s paid to do. “The goalkeeper has to win points for the club, that’s why I’m here,” he told the club website. “You have to be alert, be concentrated and I’m glad I made that save.”
So was Younes Kaboul who van der Hoorn eluded to connect with Sigurdsson’s free-kick. “He’s been incredible,” said Kaboul who played in front of Gomes as Tottenham. “He made two crucial saves and that’s Heurelho. “It was his day again today and he did a brilliant job.”
Gomes has has quite a few days like this in an assortment of coloured Watford goalkeeping shirts, most notably last season against Chelsea at home and West Brom away. Turning 36-year-old in February, he’s getting better with age and there seems plenty of life in the old dog yet.
“The one save from the set piece and one from a shot were great reactions,” said Sebastian Prodl. “Every other save I think was easy for him. Not that I want to underestimate his quality, but I think if he didn’t stop the other ones then I would have been disappointed. But we know that he is a goalkeeper, he is covering the back four or five very well and is giving us confidence with his saves. He helped a lot to get the draw.” And, in the process, keep the unlucky Pantilimon on the bench that bit longer.