Watford 2-0 Brighton: Roberto Pereyra scores twice in Watford win
By Oliver Young-Myles
Last Updated: 11/08/18 6:40pm
Roberto Pereyra scored twice as Watford comfortably beat Brighton 2-0 at Vicarage Road to get their 2018/19 season off to the perfect start.
Watford dominated from start to finish and deservedly took the lead on 35 minutes as Pereyra slammed a first-time volley into the roof of the net from a looping Jose Holebas cross.
The pair combined again nine minutes into the second half, with Pereyra curling his effort beyond Mat Ryan from close range after wandering into space inside the penalty area.
It was all too comfortable for Watford, who controlled the game impressively in the second half, while Brighton have plenty of work ahead after failing to register a single shot on target throughout the 90 minutes.
Watford: Foster (7), Janmaat (7), Cathcart (7), Kabasele (7), Holebas (8), Pereyra (9), Capoue (7), Doucoure (6), Hughes (6), Deeney (6), Gray (7)
Subs: Success (5), Sema (N/A), Kiko (N/A)
Brighton: Ryan (6), Bruno (6), Dunk (6), Duffy (5), Bernardo (5), Stephens (5), Propper (6), Gross (4), March (5), Knockaert (4), Murray (5)
Subs: Bong (5), Bissouma (6), Jahanbakhsh (6)
Man of the match: Roberto Pereyra (Watford)
Alongside Newcastle, Watford were the only club in the Premier League to turn a profit on transfers in the summer and consequently, Javi Gracia's side have been tipped to struggle this season. On the evidence of their first game of the campaign, though, talk of Watford's demise has been greatly exaggerated.
From the first whistle, Watford looked fresher and sharper than their opponents and Troy Deeney should have put them in front after 17 minutes when he found himself unmarked inside the area, but his shot was well parried by Ryan, with Pereyra firing the rebound well over the top.
Brighton's cause wasn't helped when club captain and long-serving stalwart Bruno was forced off the pitch with what looked like a hamstring injury on 25 minutes. Summer signing from RB Leipzig, Bernardo, shifted across from left-back to right-back but he found it difficult to contain Pereyra who was in electric form.
Set-pieces caused Brighton huge problems last season and it was from a corner that Watford took the lead. Abdoulaye Doucoure took it short to Holebas, who hoisted a high cross towards the edge of the box where Pereyra was lurking and the Argentine impressively controlled his volley to find the top corner.
Watford handed a third debut to summer signing Ben Foster who spent two loan spells with the club earlier on in his career.Abdoulaye Doucoure failed to feature in pre-season due to injury but he was deemed fit enough to start for the hosts.Brighton made a host of signings during the transfer window but only one started the game with defender Bernardo lining up at left back.
Glenn Murray went close to equalising for Brighton when he steered his header wide from a Pascal Gross cross on the stroke of half-time but instead it was Watford who got the game's second goal. Holebas smuggled the ball behind the out-of-position Bernardo and into Pereyra's path in the inside-left channel and the unmarked Watford winger picked his spot, firing clinically past Ryan.
There was very little goalmouth action of note from either side after Pereyra's second but, if there was one small positive for Chris Hughton to take back to the south coast, it was that new recruits Yves Bissouma and Alireza Jahanbahksh had a couple of promising moments after coming on. This was Watford's day, though and they are unlikely to enjoy as comfortable an afternoon as this for the remainder of the Premier League season.
- Brighton are winless in their last 14 Premier League away games (W0 D4 L10), the longest current such run in the division.
- Watford have lost only one of their last nine Premier League matches at Vicarage Road (W5 D3).
- Watford's Roberto Pereyra has scored five Premier League goals in his last five games at Vicarage Road, this after netting just three in his previous 19.
- Roberto Pereyra has had a hand in each of Watford's last six Premier League goals, scoring five and assisting one.
- Ben Foster made his first Premier League appearance for Watford since May 13, 2007 vs Newcastle (4108 days ago) - the second-longest gap between two games for a single team in the competition after Wayne Rooney for Everton (4837 days).
Javi Gracia: "I am very happy because we got a good result but the way we did it was even better. We controlled the game, created many chances and Brighton didn't have any shots on target.
"We did very good work in pre-season but I'm sure Brighton did as well. The first game is different, we played in front of our own fans so it was a bit easier but I'm sure Brighton will have a very good season as well.
"It didn't surprise me, I know he [Roberto Pereyra] is capable of doing these things. I'm very happy for him. From when I arrived in January, Roberto was the one who was causing the most goals in the team."
Chris Hughton: "I thought we were second-best in most departments. We had a good period 20-25 minutes before the end of the game but when we did get into good areas we weren't able to produce that quality. Watford deserved their victory and we've got a lot of work to do.
"I don't know why we were off the pace. Our preparation was probably the same as Watford's, we had a good week coming into the game, we probably didn't score enough goals in pre-season, but in regards to players being up to speed we've got no excuses."
Man of the match - Roberto Pereyra
There could be only be one candidate. Watford's match-winner has suffered injury problems since joining from Juventus in 2016 but he looked extremely sharp from the outset here, causing Brighton problems with his movement and directness.
Technically, his first goal was executed almost perfectly as he watched the ball out of the sky, all the way onto his right foot and while Mat Ryan got a hand to it, the power in the strike was enough to beat him.
Jose Holebas provided Pereyra with assists for both of his goals and Javi Gracia will be hoping that they can maintain their positive relationship on Watford's left wing for the rest of the season.
Next up for Watford is a trip to Turf Moor to take on Burnley next Sunday before they return home for the visit of Crystal Palace seven days later, live on Sky Sports.
Rather worryingly for Brighton, their next two matches are against two of last season's top four as they host Manchester United at the Amex next Sunday, live on Sky Sports, before travelling to Anfield to face Liverpool the following Saturday.