Watford started life back in the Championship with a 1-0 victory against Middlesbrough thanks to a headed effort from Craig Cathcart after 11 minutes.
Vladimir Ivic was without key players such as Troy Deeney, Ismaila Sarr and Etienne Capoue for his first competitive match in charge of the Hornets.
Watford have a good recent record against Neil Warnock’s men, and they got off to the perfect start thanks to a well whipped in cross by Swedish international Ken Sema, which found the head of Cathcart perfectly and his effort went beyond the Boro goalkeeper. 1-0
Another well-worked corner 10 minutes later allowed Joao Pedro to get his head on a cross this time, but the Brazilian could only head wide.
Middlesbrough’s Ashley Fletcher was looking bright in the first half and his volleyed attempt went close to troubling Ben Foster, but he saved well with his feet.
Britt Assombalonga had the opening chance in the second half when he made space well for himself, but his effort was well kept out by Foster.
Ivic handed a Watford debut to summer signing Glenn Murray just after the hour mark.
Assombalonga had another big chance to level things minutes before the end, but his effort went narrowly wide.
Despite Middlesbrough pressing for the equaliser, the Hornets held on to all three points leaving them ahead of the pack as the rest of the teams kick off on Saturday afternoon.
It’s Carabao Cup action up next for Ivic’s men, with a trip Oxford United coming on Tuesday night, before the Championship continues on Saturday afternoon with an away fixture at Sheffield Wednesday.
Picture credit: Watford FC