Watford kept their slim automatic promotion hopes alive with a comprehensive demolition of 10-man Blackburn at Vicarage Road.

Four goals in the second half sealed the win, including a brace inside 10 minutes from striker Troy Deeney.

Strikes from Almen Abdi and Matthew Briggs completed the rout and kept the Hornets third in the division.

The result leaves Blackburn, who had Leon Best sent off late on, just two points clear of the relegation zone.

Hull City remain second in the Championship but, after the Tigers' 0-0 draw at home to Bristol City on Friday, Watford took their opportunity to close the gap to four points with two games remaining.

Hornets manager Gianfranco Zola recalled Fernando Forestieri in place of top-scorer Matej Vydra, who has not scored since February.

However, it was Blackburn who fashioned the first good chance after Watford keeper Manuel Almunia picked up Lloyd Doyley's pass back and conceded an indirect free-kick inside the area. But the opening came to nothing - Lee Williamson setting up Scott Dann, only for the defender to blaze over.

Watford then took control and it did not take long after the interval for the hosts to make the first breakthrough - Forestieri feeding strike partner Deeney who arrowed a drive into the bottom corner.

Nine minutes later the scoreline was doubled with Forestieri again setting Deeney free to slot home past Blackburn stopper Grzegorz Sandomierski.

Forestieri created his and the game's third goal with a throughball for Abdi who fired home before, with 15 minutes left, substitute Briggs calmly slotted in after Blackburn had failed to clear a corner.

Rovers's misery was complete when Best was shown a red card in the 90th minute for an off-the-ball incident, meaning he will now miss his side's last three games of the season.

Watford manager Gianfranco Zola:

"What can I say, everything went perfect - a lot of goals, good performance, a good quality of football and a big crowd and a Sardinian day out there. It's been an ideal Saturday afternoon.

"When you have all these performances on the pitch then of course the result is more likely to be on your side.

"It is a crazy Championship, it is unbelievable at the top and at the bottom and I think it is going to be like this until the end. I'm expecting changes in the situation until the end."

Blackburn caretaker manager Gary Bowyer:

"I thought we did well first half, the first goal was always going to be crucial after the backlog of games. I'm disappointed in the manner we conceded but you've got to give credit to the lad who took his goals well.

"It was probably a big game too many for us today but we've got to regroup quickly, we've remained positive and calm throughout and that's exactly the message we've said to them again.

"We've always known we had a game in hand, we always said it might come to goal difference, we've just got to go game by game again but at 0-0 I couldn't see that coming in the second half."

Lineup, Bookings (6) & Substitutions (6)

Watford

  • 01 Almunia
  • 12 Doyley
  • 18 Pudil
  • 27 Cassetti Booked
  • 39 Chalobah
  • 40 Ekstrand Booked (Briggs - 69' )
  • 08 Hogg
  • 21 Anya (Murray - 82' )
  • 22 Abdi
  • 09 Deeney
  • 41 Forestieri (Vydra - 76' )

Substitutes

  • 30 Bond
  • 17 Briggs
  • 07 Yeates
  • 16 Murray
  • 38 Battocchio
  • 20 Vydra
  • 36 Geijo

Blackburn Rovers

  • 29 Sandomierski
  • 05 Givet (Rekik - 63' Booked )
  • 16 Dann
  • 19 Kane
  • 08 Dunn
  • 14 Ms Olsson
  • 17 Williamson Booked
  • 36 Jones Booked
  • 09 Best Dismissed
  • 11 Rhodes (Morris - 82' )
  • 15 King (Nuno Gomes - 71' )

Substitutes

  • 30 Usai
  • 02 Orr
  • 23 Rekik
  • 12 Pedersen
  • 24 Morris
  • 21 Nuno Gomes
  • 25 Goodwillie
Ref: Miller
Att: 13,775

Match Stats

Shots

12 3

On target

9 0

Corners

12 1

Fouls

7 10

Live Text Commentary

90:00 +6:11 Full time

Full Time The referee signals the end of the game.

90:00 +5:24 Dismissal

Dismissal Leon Best is sent off.

90:00 +5:18 Booking

Booking Booking for Marco Cassetti for dissent.

90:00 +3:59

Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Daniel Pudil by Todd Kane.

89:27

Nathaniel Chalobah takes the direct free kick.

89:27 Booking

Booking David Jones is cautioned by the ref for unsporting behaviour.

89:18

David Jones gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Jonathan Hogg.

87:40

Markus Olsson produces a cross, clearance by Matthew Briggs.

84:48

Foul by Troy Deeney on Markus Olsson, free kick awarded. Markus Olsson restarts play with the free kick.

81:41 Substitution

Substitution Josh Morris is brought on as a substitute for Jordan Rhodes.

81:41 Substitution

Substitution Sean Murray on for Ikechi Anya.

80:44

Troy Deeney takes a shot. Scott Dann gets a block in. Almen Abdi takes the outswinging corner, clearance made by Scott Dann.

79:23

Almen Abdi decides to take the corner short.

78:28

Matej Vydra takes a shot from just outside the penalty area clears the crossbar.

77:39

Outswinging corner taken by Almen Abdi, clearance by Karim Rekik.

75:47 Substitution

Substitution Fernando Forestieri goes off and Matej Vydra comes on.

74:13 Goal scored

Goal! - Matthew Briggs - Watford 4 - 0 Blackburn Matthew Briggs scores a goal from inside the six-yard box low into the middle of the goal. Watford 4-0 Blackburn.

73:27

Ikechi Anya takes a shot. Save by Grzegorz Sandomierski. Corner taken by Almen Abdi.

70:20 Substitution

Substitution Miguel Nuno Gomes on for Joshua King.

68:26

Free kick taken by Nathaniel Chalobah.

68:26 Substitution

Substitution Matthew Briggs on for Joel Ekstrand.

68:26 Booking

Booking Booking for Karim Rekik.

68:16

Free kick awarded for a foul by Karim Rekik on Troy Deeney.

66:40

The assist for the goal came from Fernando Forestieri.

66:40 Goal scored

Goal! - Almen Abdi - Watford 3 - 0 Blackburn Almen Abdi fires in a goal from inside the area high into the middle of the goal. Watford 3-0 Blackburn.

65:12

Corner taken by Fernando Forestieri.

62:42

Direct free kick taken by Daniel Pudil.

62:42 Booking

Booking The referee shows Lee Williamson a yellow card.

62:33

Lee Williamson gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Daniel Pudil.

62:01 Substitution

Substitution Karim Rekik comes on in place of Gael Givet.

60:29

Fernando Forestieri provided the assist for the goal.

60:29 Goal scored

Goal! - Troy Deeney - Watford 2 - 0 Blackburn Troy Deeney finds the back of the net with a goal from inside the area to the bottom right corner of the goal. Watford 2-0 Blackburn.

59:32

Jordan Rhodes produces a header from inside the six-yard box that clears the bar.

59:19

The ball is delivered by Markus Olsson.

57:19

Corner taken right-footed by Fernando Forestieri, clearance by Leon Best.

55:42

Markus Olsson delivers the ball, clearance by Marco Cassetti.

53:49

Centre by Ikechi Anya, Markus Olsson gets a block in. Corner taken right-footed by Almen Abdi from the right by-line to the near post, Jordan Rhodes makes a clearance.

51:04

Assist by Fernando Forestieri.

51:04 Goal scored

Goal! - Troy Deeney - Watford 1 - 0 Blackburn A goal is scored by Troy Deeney from just inside the area to the bottom left corner of the goal. Watford 1-0 Blackburn.

50:50

Foul by David Jones on Nathaniel Chalobah, free kick awarded. Nathaniel Chalobah takes the direct free kick.

48:44

The ball is delivered by Todd Kane, blocked by Daniel Pudil. Corner from the right by-line taken by David Jones, clearance by Lloyd Doyley.

48:05

Scott Dann takes the free kick.

48:05 Booking

Booking Joel Ekstrand booked.

47:52

Joel Ekstrand concedes a free kick for a foul on Jordan Rhodes.

45:23

A cross is delivered by Ikechi Anya, save made by Grzegorz Sandomierski.

45:01

The referee starts the second half.

45:00 +2:56 Half time

Half Time The ref blows to end the first period.

45:00 +0:57

Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Troy Deeney by Gael Givet. Free kick taken by Almen Abdi.

42:58

Marco Cassetti takes a shot. Markus Olsson gets a block in. Almen Abdi takes the outswinging corner, Header on goal by Joel Ekstrand from inside the box goes harmlessly over the target.

41:50

Fernando Forestieri fouled by Scott Dann, the ref awards a free kick. Almen Abdi takes the direct free kick.

38:25

Corner taken by Almen Abdi played to the near post, clearance by Scott Dann.

37:26

Effort from the edge of the box by Fernando Forestieri goes wide of the right-hand upright.

36:35

A cross is delivered by Troy Deeney, blocked by Markus Olsson. Corner taken right-footed by Almen Abdi from the right by-line to the near post, Leon Best makes a clearance.

29:12

Unfair challenge on Jordan Rhodes by Joel Ekstrand results in a free kick. Free kick taken by David Jones.

28:18

Daniel Pudil produces a cross, blocked by Todd Kane. Almen Abdi takes a corner.

27:54

Jordan Rhodes is ruled offside. Indirect free kick taken by Marco Cassetti.

27:31

Inswinging corner taken by Almen Abdi from the right by-line played to the near post, clearance made by Jordan Rhodes.

27:13

The ball is delivered by Ikechi Anya, Markus Olsson manages to make a clearance.

25:55

The ball is delivered by Daniel Pudil, Troy Deeney takes a shot. Save by Grzegorz Sandomierski.

23:16

Lee Williamson takes the free kick. Shot from inside the area by Scott Dann clears the bar.

20:23

Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Scott Dann by Troy Deeney. Free kick taken by David Jones.

19:17

Ikechi Anya sends in a cross.

17:22

Fernando Forestieri takes a shot. Save by Grzegorz Sandomierski.

16:34

The assistant referee flags for offside against Leon Best. Manuel Almunia restarts play with the free kick.

15:53

Unfair challenge on Leon Best by Almen Abdi results in a free kick. Free kick taken by Scott Dann.

13:45

Foul by Scott Dann on Fernando Forestieri, free kick awarded. Nathaniel Chalobah restarts play with the free kick.

13:14

Marco Cassetti concedes a free kick for a foul on Leon Best. Direct free kick taken by Scott Dann.

11:59

Shot from just outside the box by David Dunn misses to the left of the goal.

9:37

The referee blows for offside. Free kick taken by Manuel Almunia.

6:04

The ball is sent over by Daniel Pudil, blocked by David Dunn.

4:06

Lee Williamson gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Marco Cassetti. Manuel Almunia restarts play with the free kick.

1:56

Marco Cassetti gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on David Dunn. Direct free kick taken by Scott Dann.

1:30

Foul by David Dunn on Almen Abdi, free kick awarded. Nathaniel Chalobah restarts play with the free kick.

0:00

The game gets underway.

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