Middlesbrough 1-2 Watford

Matej Vydra
Matej Vydra

A brace from Czech striker Matej Vydra helped Watford to a 2-1 win at promotions rivals Middlesbrough.

The international forward struck in first-half stoppage time, pouncing after a mistake by defender Rhys Williams.

Vydra added a second - his 14th of the season - late in the second-half, powerfully finishing after Troy Deeney's through-ball.

Boro forward Scott McDonald headed in a consolation in injury time.

The hosts, who had won their last four home games, had the better of the chances in the first half.

Emmanuel Ledesma tested Hornets keeper Manuel Almunia from distance, before Lukas Jutkiewicz saw his shot blocked by Joel Ekstrand.

George Friend blasted over the bar before McDonald again tested Almunia from outside the box.

But it was Vydra who opened the scoring for Watford with his side's first effort on goal, pouncing on a loose ball after Williams failed to chest a cross back to the keeper.

Vydra was a thorn in Boro's side after the break but found Jason Steele his equal - the Boro keeper twice thwarting him in one-on-ones.

The Czech finally got his reward in the 83rd minute when he raced onto Deeney's ball, and he nearly added a third moments later, shooting just wide.

McDonald headed in Adam's Reach's cross in the 93rd minute, but it was too late to stop the visitors recording their seventh away win of the season.

Middlesbrough manager Tony Mowbray:

"We beat ourselves really. We were well on top in the first half and our game plan was working but we just couldn't score the goal we needed and then found ourselves behind.

"We dominated the first 45 minutes in terms of possession and maybe 90% of the game was played in their half.

"But then they scored and that changed the game completely. We had to throw caution to the wind and commit men forward and empty the midfield and against Watford that is always a risk.

"They are the best team in this division in that situation and as we pushed forward they punished us."

Watford manager Gianfranco Zola:

"The first goal was a present from them. We probably didn't deserve to be leading at that point.

"They were the better side in the first half. They had a lot of chances but didn't take them.

"But in the second half we were excellent, as a team and as individuals. We stepped up a level and were much more positive. Everybody was much more tuned in."