Teenage substitute Tobi Adeyemo helped send Watford up to third in the Championship with his first senior goal in a win against strugglers Blackpool.
The 17-year-old, playing his first league game, grabbed the opener just four minutes after coming off the bench, slotting home from close range as he followed up a save from Blackpool goalkeeper Chris Maxwell which kept Matheus Martins out.
Watford’s Brazilian debutant Martins played a major part in their second late on. He was brought down by Maxwell in the box to allow Ismaila Sarr to seal victory from the penalty spot.
In a game of limited opportunities, Sarr also crashed a volley off the bar for Watford in the first half.
Slaven Bilic’s side took full advantage of Blackburn’s 4-0 defeat by Rotherham earlier on Saturday, with the victory moving them above Rovers and up to third.
Michael Appleton’s Blackpool slipped to 23rd in the table. They are one point above bottom side Wigan, who drew with Cardiff.
After a much-changed Watford were beaten 2-0 by Reading in the third round of the FA Cup, Bilic reversed to a side that more resembled the one that beat Norwich last time out in the league.
Canada midfielder Ismael Kone kept his place after making his debut in the cup, while Hamza Choudhury started on his return from a month out injured.
Appleton made four changes to his Blackpool side that a week earlier produced their most convincing and high-profile win of the season, when they sent Premier League club Nottingham Forest out of the FA Cup with a 4-1 victory.
Ian Poveda scored one and created another in that triumph against Forest, but was left of the squad while striker Gary Madine returned from injury.
There was a minute’s applause before kick-off at Vicarage Road in memory of Gianluca Vialli, Watford’s manager two decades ago, who died last week aged 58.
The woodwork denied Watford from taking the lead after just four minutes, with Senegal forward Sarr hitting the post with a volley when the visitors failed to clear a corner.
A free-kick from Blackpool’s Josh Bowler that called Daniel Bachmann into action at the other end two minutes later was the only shot on goal in a first half that failed to produce another meaningful chance.
Portuguese midfielder Joao Ferreira, who arrived earlier in the week from Benfica, and teenager Martins, a loan addition from Udinese, came off the bench at half-time and helped deliver the three points.
After Vakoun Bayo was kept out by Maxwell two minutes after the restart, Martins went on to create the game’s two decisive moments.
First his shot, which Maxwell saved, set up Watford academy product Adeyemo for the opener before he drew the foul that led to the penalty.
‘It was a proper finish’ – reaction
Watford boss Slaven Bilic:
“Tobi came on for the last 15 minutes at Reading and lifted the whole team up with his running and his brain.
“We planned that he would come on, in the last 20 minutes. We were hoping by then we would be winning and he would close them down but it was different – we needed him to be creative.
“The way he scored the goal… many young players, their only aim would be just hit the ball but no – he wanted to score and it was a proper finish. I like that mentality.”
Blackpool head coach Michael Appleton:
“The first goal is crucial, we have spoken about it time and time again – it doesn’t matter what level you are playing.
“There is frustration in how we conceded the goal – there was carelessness on our part.
“I’m disappointed rather than frustrated, the players gave everything but our chance creation has to be better.”
- 2NgakiaSubstituted forFonseca Ferreiraat 45′minutesBooked at 64mins
- 5Troost-EkongSubstituted forSilva dos Santosat 45′minutes
- 15cath cart
- 3M GasparBooked at 41mins
- 4ChoudhurySubstituted forAsprillaat 68′minutes
- 19BayoSubstituted forAdemeyoat 68′minutes
- 23SarrSubstituted forGrievesat 90+4′minutes
- 13Fonseca Ferreira
- 37Silva dos Santos
- 1MaxwellBooked at 86mins
- 2ConnollySubstituted forLyonsat 82′minutes
- 21EkpithetaSubstituted forR Williamsat 75′minutes
- 3HusbandBooked at 86mins
- 11BowlerSubstituted forLaveryat 90+2′minutes
- 28PatinBooked at 88mins
- 25RogersSubstituted forYatesat 73′minutes
- 15R Williams
- Gavin Ward
Match ends, Watford 2, Blackpool 0.
Second Half ends, Watford 2, Blackpool 0.
Attempt missed. Jordan Thorniley (Blackpool) header from the center of the box is too high. Assisted by Sonny Carey with a cross following a set piece situation.
Foul by Jack Grieves (Watford).
Shayne Lavery (Blackpool) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Substitution, Watford. Jack Grieves replaces Ismaila Sarr.
Attempt missed. Shayne Lavery (Blackpool) right footed shot from the right side of the box is too high. Assisted by Andrew Lyons.
Offside, Watford. Daniel Bachmann tries a through ball, but Tobi Ademeyo is caught offside.
Substitution, Blackpool. Shayne Lavery replaces Josh Bowler.
Tobi Ademeyo (Watford) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Sonny Carey (Blackpool).
Corner, Blackpool. Granted by Mario Gaspar.
Charlie Patino (Blackpool) is shown the yellow card.
Yáser Asprilla (Watford) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Charlie Patino (Blackpool).
Goal! Watford 2, Blackpool 0. Ismaïla Sarr (Watford) converts the penalty with a right footed shot to the bottom right corner.
Chris Maxwell (Blackpool) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
James Husband (Blackpool) is shown the yellow card.
Penalty Watford. Matheus Martins draws a foul in the penalty area.
Penalty conceded by Chris Maxwell (Blackpool) after a foul in the penalty area.