Watford move up to 3rd place with goals from Joao Pedro and Will Hughes

Watford move up to 3rd place with goals from Joao Pedro and Will Hughes

Fortress Vicarage Road could prove the decisive factor if Watford get back to the Premier League.

This was their 12th win from 16 home games this season - more than anyone else in the Championship - and it lifted them level on points with Brentford in the second automatic promotion place.

Joao Pedro and Will Hughes produced the quick one-two to sink Wayne Rooney's Derby, who have failed to take a single point from the 14 games in which they've fallen behind this season.

Second best until William Troost-Ekong gifted them a goal back, Derby threw the kitchen sink at Watford in the dying minutes but the damage was done.

A run of five wins from six had lifted the Rams away from the bottom three, but with their long-awaited Abu Dhabi takeover stalled, the anxieties that have plagued their season are never far away.

'We deserved something out of the game. We had a 10 minute spell when we were sloppy but we showed a good reaction to going 2-0 down,' Rooney said.

'We had Watford on the ropes at times and on another day we get the second goal.'

Watford took an iron grip on proceedings with two goals inside two minutes with the manner of both no doubt annoying Rooney.

Jason Knight lost possession in the lead-up to Watford's first, with Ismaila Sarr sprinting on the blindside of Lee Buchanan to cross. The ball hit Andre Wisdom then the unwitting Pedro and rebounded past keeper David Marshall.

The second came from a corner with Tom Cleverley beating Patrick Roberts to the ball and finding Nathaniel Chalobah in the box. He backheeled to Hughes, whose left-footed shot nestled in the far corner.

Colin Kazim-Richards saw a goal disallowed for the Rams when Wisdom was adjudged to have blocked Hornets keeper Daniel Bachmann but they halved the deficit 13 minutes from time.

Nathan Byrne crossed brilliantly from the right and after Kazim-Richards stooped, Troost-Ekong behind him deflected it past his own keeper.

Watford boss Xisco Munoz said: 'We played brilliantly in the first-half but they gave us difficulties in the final minutes. But nobody said it was easy in the Championship.'

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