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Watford leave it late to mark special occasion with victory

Watford v Middlesbrough – Sky Bet Championship – Vicarage Road
(Image credit: Mike Egerton)

Vakoun Bayo was Watford’s last-gasp goal hero as the Hornets marked 100 years at Vicarage Road with a 2-1 victory over Middlesbrough.

Rodrigo Muniz marked his first Boro start with an early opener before Ismaila Sarr levelled midway through the first half.

And summer signing Bayo, who cost £5million from Charleroi, struck deep into stoppage time to win it for Rob Edwards’ hosts.

August 30, 1922 was the date Watford first played a competitive match at their current home, which turned out to be a 0-0 draw with Millwall in Division Three South.

Watford wore black and white striped shirts – a replica of the kit they wore in 1922 – for this one after the centenary had been marked by a pyrotechnics display, Elton John music and chats with former Hornets favourites.

Middlesbrough arrived with an intention to be party-poopers, with manager Chris Wilder also installed as the bookmakers’ second favourite to replace Scott Parker at Bournemouth.

Boro took the lead in the fourth minute when Muniz finished off a superb passing move down the left that began in their own half.

Ryan Giles used his pace to get past Francisco Sierralta and Munoz, on loan from Fulham, headed home at the back post after goalkeeper Daniel Bachmann missed the cross.

Sarr kept his cool in the box to slot home a 24th-minute equaliser that was also down to Joao Pedro’s trickery and pace down the left.

The Brazilian – a transfer target for Newcastle – cut inside to find Sarr, whose turn put Alex Mowatt on the turf as he rushed in to intervene. Then it was just a question of slotting beyond Boro goalkeeper Liam Roberts and into the corner.

Roberts denied Sarr a second with a block after Boro’s offside trap had been sprung.

Isaiah Jones missed a decent Boro chance from almost in front of the far post from Riley McGree’s cross as the first half ended all square.

Boro might have had a penalty when Christian Kabasele barged Darragh Lenihan over as Bachmann was punching a corner away. Lenihan was certainly hurt and had to be replaced.

Bachmann made a great save in the 62nd minute, parrying Matt Clarke’s header after the defender had climbed above Sierralta from a free-kick into the box.

Watford felt they might have had a penalty when Boro sub Dael Fry barged into Sarr, with Fry soon required to stop Pedro bursting into the box.

Pedro fired a free-kick just over but McGree was too high at the other end soon after. Muniz forced Bachmann into a save from the halfway line before Bayo won it for the Hornets.

Mario Gaspar seized on to Pedro’s flick and passed to his fellow substitute to slot past Roberts and start the party.

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