Three things we learned: Watford – Aston Villa; video highlights

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Watford beat Aston Villa on their return to the Premier League, as the new boys rode a superb first half display to secure an opening day victory.

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Emmanuel Dennis and Ismaila Sarr scored one apiece and assisted each other as Villa couldn’t handle Watford’s intensity and Dean Smith was not a happy man on the sidelines.

Cucho Hernandez then curled home a beauty straight after coming off the bench to make it 3-0 in the second half.

Villa made it 3-1 late on as John McGinn swept home brilliantly and Danny Ings then scored a penalty in the last minute of stoppage time, but it wasn’t enough to get Villa anything as they lost 3-2.

FULL MATCH REPLAY

The Hornets are back in the Premier League with a bang and Xisco Munoz was delighted as Vicarage Road went wild at the final whistle.

Watford will be a horrible team to play against this season and they already have three points on the board.


Three things we learned from Watford – Aston Villa

1. Hornets buzz all over Villa: This was all about effort from Xisco Munoz’s side. They were hungry from start to finish and worked so hard off the ball. If they can continue this high-press this season, they will stay well clear of the drop zone.

2. Dennis is a menace: New Nigerian forward Emmanuel Dennis was a real menace in the first half as he scored and set up another and his partnership with Sarr seems to already be telepathic with lots of clever balls out wide and smart runs centrally. He ran Konsa and Mings ragged and Watford may have found their new Troy Deeney.

3. Villa’s new boys have to step up: Danny Ings had a few half chances and scored a late penalty kick, while Emiliano Buendia did his best to get on the ball, but neither could get into the game. Watford shut them down very well and with Jack Grealish gone, Villa need more creativity from their new boys. Leon Bailey did well when he came on and set up their first goal and it will take time for these new signings to get to know one another and replace Grealish.

Man of the Match: Ismaila Sarr – An assist and a goal in the first half and he ripped Villa apart. What a display on the right flank.


After some good touches in the box early on from Danny Ings, Watford caught Villa on the counter.

Ismaila Sarr surged down the right and picked out Emmanuel Dennis.

The initial shot was blocked but Dennis tucked home the rebound underneath Emiliano Martinez to send Vicarage Road wild.

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Sarr caused plenty of problems for Villa down their left flank, while John McGinn was rattled into in midfield as Watford battled hard to stay ahead.

Christian Kabasele headed over as Watford pushed and then they caught Villa on the counter to score a second. Dennis set Sarr away and his shot took a huge deflection and looped into the far top corner.

In the second half Villa huffed and puffed as they tried to get back in the game after subbing off Matt Targett at half time.

Danny Ings flashed a shot towards goal which was deflected wide as Jacob Ramsey replaced Targett at half time and looked a threat.

Watford dug deep and worked so hard to win the ball back in midfield and Villa just couldn’t cause them any problems.

Cucho Hernandez then jumped off the bench and after a good advantage was played by referee Mike Dean in midfield, the Colombian forward ran free and curled home a stunner from the left side of the box to make it 3-0.

Villa sub Leon Bailey, making his Premier League debut, whipped in a great ball for McGinn to flick home a beauty and make it 3-1.

And Villa tried to rally late on as Bailey caused plenty of problems and Ings scored a late penalty kick, but Watford held on for the win.