Troy Deeney’s first Premier League goal of the season helped inspire Watford to a 2-0 win over Stoke City on Saturday.
The 27-year old was on hand two minutes before half time to sweep home following some terrific work from Odion Ighalo on the edge of the area.
Both players had previously been denied by the crossbar in the space of a few seconds midway through a first half that saw Stoke dominate possession.
But Deeney’s opener saw the visitors grow in confidence and Quique Sanchez Flores’ previously goal-shy side sealed a fine win on 69 minutes when Almen Abdi hammered home.
The result will be seen as a missed opportunity for Stoke, who failed to truly test Watford goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes and saw a three-match winning streak come to an abrupt end.
Meanwhile, a first win in four games boosts Watford and sees Flores’ men leapfrog Saturday’s opponents into 13th.
Stoke, unchanged from their win over Swansea, were dealt an early blow inside a tight opening 10 minutes as Geoff Cameron limped off with a suspected hamstring injury.
The hosts, who enjoyed the lion’s share of possession for much of the first half, looked the more likely to make a breakthrough in the opening exchanges.
Charlie Adam missed the target with a trademark drive on the edge of the box on 16 minutes, before seeing a 30-yard free-kick deflected wide 10 minutes later.
Marko Arnautovic should have broken the deadlock just before the half-hour, but could not keep his close-range header down from Xherdan Shaqiri’s whipped cross.
Ighalo had previously scored five of Watford’s six league goals this season and came close to making Stoke pay for that miss, crashing a header onto the bar, which also denied Deeney’s rebound.
But the visitors were not to be denied for long as Deeney redeemed himself by coolly slotting home following Ighalo’s clever backheel on the edge of the box.
Ighalo saw a penalty appeal waved away five minutes after the break as Watford looked increasingly confident, while Philipp Wollscheid produced a vital block to deny the Nigerian six minutes later.
Peter Crouch and Jonathan Walters were introduced on the hour as Stoke looked for some attacking potency, but Watford continued to threaten, doubling their lead nine minutes later.
A mistake by substitute Marc Wilson allowed Ighalo to nip in on the left, setting up Abdi to thrash home his first Premier League goal.
It could have been worse for Stoke had Jack Butland not parried away substitute Juan Paredes’ vicious 20-yard strike, but a disappointing attacking display meant the result was never in doubt on a difficult 100th game in charge for boss Mark Hughes.
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