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Watford defeat Blackburn to rise to third in Championship standings

Watford v Blackburn Rovers – Sky Bet Championship – Vicarage Road
(Image credit: Adam Davy)

Darragh Lenihan’s own goal helped Watford to a 3-1 win over Blackburn that lifted them to third in the Championship table.

The Hornets took control with two goals in quick succession early in the first half from Joao Pedro and Tom Cleverley.

Ben Brereton’s fine strike reduced the arrears before the half-hour mark but Rovers, who had more possession and shots than the hosts, saw their luck run out after the break when Lenihan put through his own goal and Adam Armstrong saw a penalty saved by the excellent Ben Foster.

Rovers put Harvey Elliott, the 17-year-old loan signing from Liverpool, straight into their starting line-up but fellow new recruits Barry Douglas and Tom Trybull began on the bench.

Foster made the game’s first save by beating away Armstrong’s drive but within seconds Rovers were behind.

James Garner’s pass put Kiko Femenia into space on the right and his delivery found Pedro in front of goal for a first-time finish in the 13th minute. It was the 19-year-old’s third goal for Watford following winners against Luton and Derby.

It took Watford all of four minutes to double that lead through captain Cleverley. This time it was Ismaila Sarr who eluded the Rovers backline and although keeper Thomas Kaminski was able to parry the shot that followed Cleverley had continued his run and had the simple task of heading into an unguarded net.

Christian Kabasele was perhaps fortunate to receive only a yellow card for tripping Armstrong to prevent the forward from racing clear, with Foster saving Lenihan’s header from the free-kick.

Rovers were back in the game in the 28th minute through Brereton’s fine strike. The former Nottingham Forest man chested down Armstrong’s nod back and volleyed past Foster at his near post from 25 yards.

Sarr’s searing pace almost set up Pedro again but this time the youngster could only poke wide on the stretch right in front of the back post.

Armstrong then put an even better chance over at the other end after Corry Evans’ effort was half blocked as a frenetic first 45 minutes came to a close.

Watford went 3-1 ahead within five minutes of the restart when Lenihan clumsily diverted Ken Sema’s cross from the left into his own net.

The Republic of Ireland defender almost made instant amends but Foster pulled off a fine save to keep out his long-range shot.

The former England goalkeeper then had to tip Armstrong’s chip over as Rovers came again and the visitors were rewarded with a 68th-minute penalty when Craig Cathcart bundled Lewis Holtby over from behind.

Foster guessed correctly however to bat away Armstrong’s spot-kick.

Sarr might have wrapped up victory with 12 minutes remaining when Garner burst forward and squared for the Senegal forward but Kaminski stuck out a leg to block.