Ipswich 0-2 Watford
Watford kept the pressure on the Championship's top two with victory over strugglers Ipswich Town.
Jonathan Hogg struck the Ipswich bar before Ikechi Anya finished a tidy move to give the visitors the lead.
Town dug in and saw Michael Chopra's overhead kick saved before Tommy Smith had an effort ruled out for offside.
The hosts continued to increase their foothold in the game but Nathaniel Chalobah's burst forward and finish was enough to see the Hornets home.
Watford, chasing a return to the Premier League after a six-year absence, occasionally produced the slick passing and composure that has seen them win seven of their last 10 league games, while Town, unable to match their hosts for quality, displayed the grit and determination required for a Championship relegation fight.
Another happy trip to Suffolk
Watford have won six and drawn two of their last eight league trips to Portman Road, winning three in a row
The Hornets named seven of their 10 loan signings from sister clubs Udinese and Granada in their squad - a point of contention for some, including Crystal Palace boss Ian Holloway - and picked up where they left off in Saturday's 4-0 dismantling of Birmingham City, with former Aston Villa midfielder Hogg striking the bar from distance in the opening minutes.
And it looked ominous for the home side as Watford got off the mark with a clever move that saw Troy Deeney, making his 250th career appearance, help Hogg's cut-back on to Anya, who arrowed the ball through a field of defenders' legs and into the far corner for his second goal in as many games.
Town, who have been slowly edging away from the drop zone under Mick McCarthy after being bottom in November, rode out a period of Hornets possession and began to show the steel that the former Wolves manager's sides are renowned for - Richard Stearman most likely satisfying his boss's demand for commitment when having his dislocated finger popped back into place midway through the first half.
They grew into the game, powered on by the persistence of Guirane N'Daw in midfield and saw Lee Martin's penalty appeal following a challenge from Hogg turned down, before Chopra's sweetly hit overhead kick flew directly to a relieved Manuel Almunia in the Watford goal.
Gianfranco Zola's side had won nine on the road before arriving in Suffolk, the most in the league, but were almost pegged back when Smith tucked in the rebound after David McGoldrick's cross came back off Almunia, only for the linesman to raise his flag for offside.
However, Watford eased towards a third win in four games when Almen Abdi's sweetly weighted through ball was met by Chalobah's run and the Chelsea loanee fired home.
Ipswich manager Mick McCarthy:
"We were beaten by a very good side. They're as good as I've seen this season in this league.
"We did all right to keep it to two and worked very hard, but Watford were quality and sometimes you have to hold your hands up and admit you were beaten by the better side.
"We need another four or five wins [to avoid relegation] and I believe we've got the ability and team spirit to get them."
Watford boss Gianfranco Zola:
"We're really playing well away from home. I'm delighted and I have to admit to being surprised by what these players are doing.
"They're really performing to levels that are unexpected by me, considering that we're a young team that have just been assembled this year.
"They're making me very proud and I was delighted by this victory.
"We took our opportunities. They had opportunities and didn't and that was the difference."
- 13 Henderson
- 03 Cresswell
- 04 Chambers
- 05 Stearman Booked
- 20 Smith Booked
- 07 Edwards
- 08 N'daw
- 11 Martin (Mclean - 53' )
- 19 Hyam
- 10 Chopra
- 16 McGoldrick (Nouble - 64' )
- 01 Loach
- 02 Hewitt
- 06 Kisnorbo
- 17 Drury
- 25 Mclean
- 27 Murphy
- 35 Nouble
- 01 Almunia
- 12 Doyley
- 27 Cassetti
- 33 Nosworthy
- 39 Chalobah
- 40 Ekstrand Booked
- 08 Hogg
- 21 Anya (Forsyth - 78' )
- 22 Abdi Booked
- 09 Deeney Booked (Yeates - 85' )
- 41 Forestieri Booked (Geijo - 73' )
- 30 Bond
- 07 Yeates
- 11 Forsyth
- 16 Murray
- 38 Battocchio
- 20 Vydra
- 36 Geijo
Live Text Commentary
Full Time The final whistle goes and the game is over.90:00 +3:11
Centre by Aaron Cresswell, Craig Forsyth manages to make a clearance. Carlos Edwards takes a corner.89:18
Aaron Cresswell produces a shot on goal direct from the free kick, Manuel Almunia makes a save.89:18 Booking
Booking Joel Ekstrand goes into the referee's book for unsporting behaviour.89:09
The referee penalises Joel Ekstrand for handball.88:36
The ball is delivered by Aaron Cresswell, Aaron Mclean takes a shot. Save by Manuel Almunia.86:19
The ball is crossed by Carlos Edwards, Aaron Mclean has an effort at goal from deep inside the area missing to the right of the target.86:07
Foul by Alexandre Geijo on Richard Stearman, free kick awarded. Stephen Henderson restarts play with the free kick.85:27
Guirane N'Daw challenges Mark Yeates unfairly and gives away a free kick. Nathaniel Chalobah restarts play with the free kick.83:46
Stephen Henderson takes the direct free kick.83:46 Substitution
Substitution Troy Deeney leaves the field to be replaced by Mark Yeates.83:46
A cross is delivered by Craig Forsyth, clearance by Luke Chambers. Craig Forsyth gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Carlos Edwards.81:49
A cross is delivered by Carlos Edwards, clearance made by Marco Cassetti. Corner taken by Carlos Edwards from the right by-line, Michael Chopra challenges Almen Abdi unfairly and gives away a free kick. Free kick taken by Manuel Almunia.81:14
Centre by Carlos Edwards, clearance by Marco Cassetti.80:15
Free kick awarded for a foul by Troy Deeney on Aaron Mclean. Strike on goal comes in from Guirane N'Daw from the free kick.79:38
Inswinging corner from right by-line crossed in by Aaron Cresswell, Nyron Nosworthy manages to make a clearance.78:54
Handball decision goes against Troy Deeney. Stephen Henderson takes the direct free kick.77:04 Substitution
Substitution Ikechi Anya goes off and Craig Forsyth comes on.77:04
Guirane N'Daw produces a left-footed shot from long distance which goes wide right of the goal.76:51
The ball is crossed by Aaron Cresswell, Joel Ekstrand manages to make a clearance.
Right-footed shot by Frank Nouble went wide of the left-hand upright.74:51
Guirane N'Daw gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Alexandre Geijo. Nyron Nosworthy takes the direct free kick.73:47
Troy Deeney takes a shot from just outside the penalty area clears the crossbar.71:46 Substitution
Substitution (Watford) makes a substitution, with Alexandre Geijo coming on for Fernando Forestieri.71:46
The assist for the goal came from Jonathan Hogg.71:46 Goal scored
Goal! - Nathaniel Chalobah - Ipswich 0 - 2 Watford Nathaniel Chalobah finds the net with a goal from the edge of the area to the bottom left corner of the goal. Ipswich 0-2 Watford.71:06
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Joel Ekstrand by Frank Nouble. Manuel Almunia restarts play with the free kick.70:41
Fernando Forestieri takes a shot. Save by Stephen Henderson.69:00
The ball is sent over by Frank Nouble, save made by Manuel Almunia.68:18
Stephen Henderson restarts play with the free kick.68:18 Booking
Booking Almen Abdi goes into the referee's book for unsporting behaviour.68:13
Almen Abdi challenges Michael Chopra unfairly and gives away a free kick.67:21
Direct free kick taken by Nathaniel Chalobah.67:21 Booking
Booking Richard Stearman booked.67:18
Ikechi Anya fouled by Richard Stearman, the ref awards a free kick.66:40
Effort on goal by Fernando Forestieri from just inside the penalty area goes over the target.65:20
Jonathan Hogg produces a right-footed shot from long range which goes wide right of the goal.64:05
Indirect free kick taken by Stephen Henderson.64:05 Booking
Booking Fernando Forestieri is cautioned by the ref for time wasting.64:02
The referee blows for offside against Fernando Forestieri.62:40 Substitution
Substitution David McGoldrick goes off and Frank Nouble comes on.62:40
Corner taken left-footed by Aaron Cresswell from the right by-line, Tommy Smith produces a header from inside the area that goes over the bar.59:41
Free kick awarded for a foul by Nathaniel Chalobah on Carlos Edwards. Aaron Cresswell takes the direct free kick.58:35
Free kick awarded for a foul by David McGoldrick on Joel Ekstrand. Manuel Almunia takes the free kick.57:36
Stephen Henderson takes the free kick.57:36 Booking
Booking Booking for Troy Deeney for unsporting behaviour.57:27
Foul by Troy Deeney on Richard Stearman, free kick awarded.56:15
Almen Abdi delivers the ball, Troy Deeney has an effort at goal from deep inside the area missing to the left of the target.54:54
David McGoldrick takes a shot. Save by Manuel Almunia. The referee blows for offside against Tommy Smith. Manuel Almunia takes the indirect free kick.54:03
Unfair challenge on Michael Chopra by Nyron Nosworthy results in a free kick. Free kick taken by Aaron Cresswell.52:53 Substitution
Substitution Aaron Mclean on for Lee Martin.52:10
Fernando Forestieri takes the inswinging corner, David McGoldrick makes a clearance.51:47
Ikechi Anya takes a shot. Tommy Smith gets a block in.51:12
The ball is swung over by Luke Chambers, Lee Martin takes a shot. Blocked by Lloyd Doyley.48:23
Fernando Forestieri challenges Michael Chopra unfairly and gives away a free kick. Luke Chambers takes the free kick.46:27
A cross is delivered by Lee Martin, Nathaniel Chalobah makes a clearance. Aaron Cresswell takes the inswinging corner, Fernando Forestieri manages to make a clearance.45:05
Corner taken by Aaron Cresswell from the right by-line, Joel Ekstrand manages to make a clearance.45:01
The referee starts the second half.45:00 +3:05 Half time
Half Time The match has reached half-time.45:00 +2:35
Richard Stearman crosses the ball, Michael Chopra has an effort at goal from 12 yards. Manuel Almunia makes a save.45:00 +0:39
Fernando Forestieri restarts play with the free kick. Nathaniel Chalobah takes a shot. Save by Stephen Henderson.45:00 +0:39 Booking
Booking Tommy Smith shown a yellow card.45:00 +0:33
Free kick awarded for a foul by Tommy Smith on Fernando Forestieri.44:52
Centre by Carlos Edwards, clearance made by Almen Abdi.44:08
Carlos Edwards delivers the ball, save by Manuel Almunia.43:06
Aaron Cresswell fouled by Fernando Forestieri, the ref awards a free kick. Aaron Cresswell takes the free kick.42:42
Inswinging corner taken left-footed by Aaron Cresswell, clearance made by Ikechi Anya.41:49
Luke Hyam takes a shot. Nyron Nosworthy gets a block in. Inswinging corner taken left-footed by Aaron Cresswell from the right by-line.40:51
Aaron Cresswell handles the ball and concedes a free kick. Almen Abdi takes the direct free kick.39:11
Foul by Ikechi Anya on Luke Hyam, free kick awarded. Free kick taken by Stephen Henderson.37:14
David McGoldrick takes a shot. Save by Manuel Almunia.32:34
Marco Cassetti crosses the ball, Richard Stearman makes a clearance.30:38
Lee Martin crosses the ball, clearance by Lloyd Doyley.29:28
Almen Abdi gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on David McGoldrick. Free kick taken by Aaron Cresswell.24:07
Shot from outside the box by Guirane N'Daw misses to the left of the goal.23:18
Unfair challenge on Lee Martin by Marco Cassetti results in a free kick. Aaron Cresswell takes the free kick.22:59
Almen Abdi takes a shot. Luke Chambers gets a block in.22:00
Jonathan Hogg has an effort at goal from outside the area missing to the wide right of the target.21:02
Almen Abdi is caught offside. Stephen Henderson restarts play with the free kick.17:46
The assist for the goal came from Troy Deeney.17:46 Goal scored
Goal! - Ikechi Anya - Ipswich 0 - 1 Watford Goal scored by Ikechi Anya from deep inside the penalty box to the bottom right corner of the goal. Ipswich 0-1 Watford.16:07
Michael Chopra gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Nyron Nosworthy. Manuel Almunia takes the free kick.13:57
Foul by Michael Chopra on Ikechi Anya, free kick awarded. Free kick taken by Joel Ekstrand.12:38
The ball is crossed by Jonathan Hogg, Luke Chambers makes a clearance.9:52
Shot by David McGoldrick from outside the box goes over the net.6:56
Shot from just outside the penalty area by Michael Chopra misses to the left of the target.6:41
Lee Martin delivers the ball, Lloyd Doyley manages to make a clearance.5:16
Troy Deeney takes a shot. Blocked by Tommy Smith. Corner from the right by-line taken by Fernando Forestieri, Luke Chambers manages to make a clearance.3:38
Jonathan Hogg takes a shot.0:00
The match gets underway.
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