Middlesbrough 0-1 Watford: Jose Holebas stunner nicks Hornets win
By Charlotte Marsh
Last Updated: 17/10/16 12:48pm
A stunning strike from Jose Holebas sealed Watford a hard-fought 1-0 Premier League victory over Middlesbrough on Sunday afternoon.
After a goalless first half that saw Antonio Barragan escape a sending off, the midfielder curled a delightful effort into the top corner nine minutes into the second period.
Middlesbrough had their chances to score and a number of penalty appeals, but remain just outside the relegation places with six points while Watford move up to tenth in the table.
Both sides began the game well and had half-chances inside the opening ten minutes, with Troy Deeney nearly latching onto the end of a ball in the box before Stewart Downing skied an effort over the bar and Gaston Ramirez fired just past the far post after a one-two with Alvaro Negredo.
The Valencia loanee was twice involved in penalty shouts during the opening period and in quick succession. The first came in the 24th minute when he was grappled to the ground by Younes Kaboul in the box, but referee Roger East waved away the claims.
The second came just three minutes later as his shot appeared to hit the arm of Nordin Amrabat - but again nothing was given - before Downing hit wide from the rebounded ball in the box.
Middlesbrough came close to opening the scoring just after the half-hour mark as Ben Gibson collected the ball around 25 yards out and went for glory, but it fired past the upright once again.
The hosts should have been reduced to 10 men just seconds later as Watford went on the break, with Barragan bringing down Issac Success in what looked a clear yellow card incident.
But despite being cautioned earlier in the half, he escaped with just a talking-to from East as the first half ended goalless.
Watford found the breakthrough just after the restart, with Holebas producing a moment of magic in the 54th minute.
It came after Success went down in the area under a challenge from by Adam Forshaw and Marten de Roon's clearance found the former Greece international on the edge of the box. He then powered a fantastic effort into the top corner to put the visitors ahead.
Middlesbrough continued to see penalty appeals waved away - another in the 63rd minute as Ramirez was taken down by Miguel Britos - and Barragan again brought down Success four minutes later but escaped a second yellow.
The hosts' best chance of the half came in the 68th minute as Negredo rose highest to meet a Friend cross from the right but under pressure, he could not quite get it on target, allowing Heurelho Gomes to make a low save.
Watford could have twice doubled their lead before full time, and both chances involved man of the match Success, who was making his first Hornets start since his summer move.
He found himself in acres of space in front of goal, but could not quite latch onto a blocked Etienne Capoue shot. He then turned Calum Chambers into knots on the left of the box and hit a delightful curling effort, but Victor Valdes made the save.
Watford managed to secure their third win of the Premier League season after another penalty call was waved away late on as Chambers was challenged by Holebas.
Middlesbrough: Valdes (6), Barragan (5), Chambers (5), Gibson (6), Friend (6), De Roon (6), Forshaw (5), Stuani (7), Ramirez (7), Downing (6), Negredo (7).
Subs used: Rhodes (n/a), Traore (6), Ayala (5).
Watford: Gomes (6), Kaboul (5), Prodl (5), Britos (6), Amrabat (6), Capoue (6), Behrami (6), Holebas (7), Pereyra (7), Success (8), Deeney (7).
Subs used: Watson (n/a), Zuniga (5), Kabasele (5).
Man of the match: Issac Success