By Duro Ikhazuagbe with agency report
Jose Holebas’ fine strike gave Watford victory over Middleborough in the English Premier League yesterday but the Man-of-the-Match honour went to the club’s record signing, Isaac Success.
The returnee Super Eagles forward who missed Nigeria’s clash with Zambia in Ndola penultimate Sunday due to injury, was responsible for most of the game’s sparse moments of promise.
Watford’s gaffer, Walter Mazzarri deployed captain Troy Deeney as a lone striker but it was obvious that the day belonged to Success who gave Boro defenders more work to do. The half-hour mark tripping of Success caused referee Roger East to give Boro’s right-back, Antonio Barragan, a seen a second yellow card to create more room for the battling Nigerian.
Success was again involved in the build-up to the winning goal, going down after a typically direct run into the area. While he protested and claimed for a penalty, Holebas nipped in front of Cristhian Stuani to control a poor clearance, take a touch and then fire a swerving shot that former Barcelona keeper Victor Valdes could only help into the top corner.
It was Watford’s first shot on target but enough to give them the maximum points.
The victory left Middlesbrough still looking for a first home win of the Premier League season.
Boro – who remain above the bottom three on goal difference only – failed to properly test Hornets goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes at all during the game.
The result moves Watford up to 10th.
Middlesbrough have now lost three home games in a row for the first time in seven years – and have not won in the top flight at the Riverside since April 2009.
Middlesbrough won promotion back to the Premier League after seven seasons on the back of a formidable defence and strong home record – which they have so far failed to bring to the top flight.
Aitor Karanka’s side conceded just 31 times last season – eight at home – but have already let in six at the Riverside in a run which has seen them take just a point in front of their own fans.
But while they still looked untroubled by Watford for large periods, it will be their lack of attacking threat that should most concern Karanka.
They managed just three tame efforts on target, Adam Forshaw wasting their best opening with little more than a back-pass from the edge of the area.
Striker Alvaro Negredo – who scored 23 times in his first 33 appearances for Manchester City, and then none in his final 16 – now has just a goal on the opening day to his name in Boro colours and never looked like adding to it.
And with trips to Arsenal, Manchester City and Leicester in their next three away games, Boro must find goals from somewhere if they are to compete.
Watford captain Troy Deeney had complained that his players were “bullied to a man all over the pitch” in the 2-0 loss at Burnley in their previous away match.