Watford 1-0 Sunderland: Miguel Britos' header puts Sunderland seven points off safety
By James Kilpatrick
Last Updated: 01/04/17 5:50pm
A first club goal from Miguel Britos gave Watford a 1-0 win against Sunderland, meaning David Moyes' side are now seven points off Premier League safety.
Britos' 58th-minute header is all that separated the two sides in a lively match, which deepens Sunderland's woes at the foot of the table.
Adnan Januzaj and Fabio Borini came closest to scoring for the Black Cats with a good chance each in the second half, but it was the Hornets who were able to hold on for the win.
The result leaves Sunderland bottom of the table, but do have a game in hand. Meanwhile, Watford's first win since February 4 sends them up to 10th.
Watford started the game without top goalscorer Troy Deeney, who was forced to sit on the bench with a stomach bug. Otherwise, it was three additional changes for the Hornets with Jose Holebas, Abdoulaye Doucoure and Nordin Amrabat coming in.
For Sunderland, Sebastian Larsson dropped to the bench as the Black Cats went to three at the back, with Lamine Kone returning to the starting line-up.
The first half was open and lively, despite a lack of goals. Sunderland's goalkeeper Jordan Pickford was forced into making a double save in the 11th minute, first parrying away a low shot from M'Baye Niang and then a similar Doucoure attempt from the right flank.
Watford then came close again eight minutes later as Etienne Capoue played a cross into the box for Stefano Okaka who, despite being unmarked, headed his attempt over the bar.
Former Sunderland defender Younes Kaboul was forced to come off for Daryl Janmaat five minutes before half-time with a hamstring injury, and two minutes later Sunderland had their best chance of the half.
Januzaj, on the right flank, cut onto his left foot and had a shot on goal which deflected off Craig Cathcart before going inches wide of the post.
Jermain Defoe picked up a slight injury in the 47th minute after colliding with Doucoure, but he was able to shrug it off and continue the match. However, he did not look entirely comfortable for the remainder of the game.
With Watford the more dominant side beginning the second half, they were the ones who broke the deadlock.
In the 58th minute, a corner by Tom Cleverley reached Okaka in the box. His goal-bound header was intercepted by Borini, with the Italian only able to head it onto his own team's crossbar. Cathcart was then able to cushion a header across the face of the goal for Britos to nod in from just a few yards out.
Watford could have easily made it 2-0 just four minutes later as substitute Isaac Success was slipped through by Okaka, but Pickford was able to get down and make a good save with his legs.
Januzaj then had a great opportunity to give Sunderland a much-needed equaliser in the 65th minute. Didier N'Dong down the right cut back and squared a ball for the former Manchester United man to simply tuck the ball into a corner, but he found neither, which allowed Watford goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes to make an easy save.
As the game became increasingly scrappy, with Sunderland receiving three yellow cards between the 70th and 80th minute, Gomes was called into action again seven minutes from time.
A powerful shot from Borini from the edge of the box was expertly tipped around the post by the Brazil goalkeeper.
Despite Sunderland continuing to press for an equaliser they so desperately wanted, Watford's defence stood firm to add to Moyes' problems.
Watford: Gomes (8), Britos (8), Kaboul (6), Amrabat (6), Cleverley (7), Cathcart (7), Doucoure (7), Niang (8), Holebas (7), Capoue (7), Okaka (6)
Subs: Janmaat (7), Zuniga (7), Holebas (7)
Sunderland: Pickford (8), Jones (6), Oviedo (6), Kone (6), O'Shea (6), Denayer (6), Gibson (6), Rodwell (7), Borini (7), Januzaj (7), Defoe (6)
Subs: N'Dong (7), Khazri (6)
Man of the Match: Miguel Britos