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  • By Alessandro Schiavone

Bayo's 93rd-minute winner breaks Boro's hearts as Watford seal 2-1 win

Vakoun Bayo’s injury-time goal earned Watford all three points against Middlesbrough in 2-1 win at Vicarage Road.

Rodrigo Muniz headed Boro in front with the easiest of headed goals which was undone by Ismaila Sarr’s smart finish.

Yet when the game was hurtling towards a draw, Mario Gaspar’s shot ricocheted into Vakoun Bayo’s path.

And Ivorian gave Boro a bitter pill to swallow with a classic finish that sent the Watford fans in ecstasy in the 93rd minute.

Watford’s four-game winless streak across all competitions has finally come to an end as the relegated Hornets sneak back into the top-six.

The stalemate would probably have been a fair result though.

The Hornets outplayed their opponents in the opening half while Boro had a prolonged spell in which they could have got their noses up in the second-half.

The game wasn’t locked for long as Middlesbrough’s Muniz gave the Teasiders the lead inside four minutes.

Ghosting in the far-post the Brazilian, on loan at the Riverside from Fulham, got first to Ryan Giles’ cross punish Daniel Bachmann’s hesitancy with a firm header.

But that was pretty much all Middlesbrough came up with before Watford’s Joao Pedro, in a white and black Newcastle United-esque jersey, began to rip into Chris Wilder’s men.

The 20-year-old may not get his wish and sign for the wealthy Tynesiders in this transfer window. And that comes as a huge boost Rob Edwards’ and the promotion-hopeful Hornets as he’s a different weapon in their armoury. If Watford can keep hold of him until the end of the season a return to the Premier League is not beyond the realms of possibility.

His bursts of acceleration and changes of pace caused a lot of damage to Boro’s defence who struggled to deal with him and surely had much easier assignments than marking the Brazil hotshot.

And after Sarr had a shot blocked following a dream ball into space by his Brazilian teammate, the net finally rattled.

This time the Senegal international’s neat finish inside the box levelled the game for Watford after outstanding footwork by Pedro down the left.

The Watford striker, who projects the image of a sulky and mean boy, should have been delighted after netting such a screamer but instead cut an angry figure.

Has it got something to do with his failed move to Aston Villa? Only he knows.

Minutes later, he beat the offside trap but failed to get the better of Liam Roberts in Boro’s goal.

Non-existent in attack, Boro were lucky to have Roberts in goal who thwarted another net-bound effort by clawing Pedro’s thunderous effort away just before half-time.

However the narrative changed after the restart as the tiring Hornets faded away with each passing minute, leading to Boro nearly retaking the elad.

Matt Clarke beat Watford’s defenders to Giles’ inswinging free-kick but Bachmann redeemed himself after his fourth-minute howler by spectacularly beating it away.

Wilder’s men suddenly had another spring in their steps and turned the screw on the hosts. But saw a hat-trick of low strikes blocked in the crowded area.

A piece of defending of the highest order by substitute Dael Fry denied Pedro and Watford an undeserved lead after 72 minutes.

Aston Villa loanee Kortney Hause made his Watford debut after replacing stalwart Craig Cathcart in the 80th minute to take his place on the left of a three-man defence.

And just when the fans were prepared to leave their seats in frustration Bayo popped up to stab home the winner and seal a precious victory.

What a long journey back to Middlesbrough this will be tonight for the travelling supporters.



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