A sensational second-half goal from Ryan Hedges earned Blackburn a 1-0 win at Watford. Hedges produced a brilliant piece of skill to lift the ball over Wesley Hoedt and juggle it twice, before smashing past Daniel Bachmann from a narrow angle in the 72nd minute.
The counterattack had sprung from an error by substitute Imran Louza, who had been dropped to the bench for disciplinary reasons by the Watford manager, Valérien Ismaël. The win lifted Rovers up to ninth in the Championship and left the Hornets 15th after a third successive match without a goal.
Watford shaded scrappy opening exchanges. Matheus Martins saw a shot on the turn deflected behind before Hoedt headed over at the back post. From a passing move that began in their left-back area Rovers fashioned their first shooting chance but Bachmann did well to parry Sammie Szmodics’s drive.
Szmodics lost possession soon after to hand Watford a chance. Rovers’ Aynsley Pears emulated Bachmann by beating away Martins’s shot and the Brazilian went even closer in the 29th minute by cutting in from the left and thumping a drive that hit the crossbar.
Watford went close again just before the break when Tom Dele-Bashiru launched a powerful shot that Dominic Hyam blocked.
Louza – who was late for training earlier in the week – replaced Ismaël Koné for the second half, which began with Martins going close with two more long-range efforts.
Watford made a double change just before the hour mark, with the striker Mileta Rajovic making his debut. Andy Moran, on loan from Brighton, then came on for a Rovers bow and immediately fired a decent opportunity at Bachmann.
Hyam, who had barely survived a penalty shout for handball, was booked for illegally stopping Ryan Andrews reaching the Rovers box, with Louza firing over from the resulting free-kick. Rajovic also failed to hit the target before Louza was booked for a foul on Adam Wharton.
In the 72nd minute, Hedges conjured up a cracker. Louza lost possession and the substitute Sam Gallagher’s pass sent Lewis Travis sprinting goalwards but Ryan Porteous stopped him with a sliding tackle.
Hedges seized on the loose ball, however, and skipped over Hoedt’s challenge before juggling the ball then lashing it high past Bachmann from a tight angle. Martins was unlucky again with a shot that Pears tipped on to a post to leave Watford without a goal since the 43rd minute of their opening game.