A moment of brilliance from Joao Pedro helped Watford beat Derby County 1-0 in the Sky Bet Championship encounter at Pride Park on Friday evening.
Story of the game
The first action of note came after 18 minutes, when Kiko Femenia won the visitors a free-kick following a foul by George Evans, however, the ball fell to Femenia who sliced a volley over the bar.
Derby then had their first chance when Lee Buchanan won a corner after Nathan Byrne had over-hit his cross, although, Wayne Rooney's corner was a waste as it goes behind for a goal kick.
Before Buchanan was again involved in another attack for the hosts as he raced onto a poor clearance by Domingos Quina and winning a free-kick which Rooney's effort deflects behind for a corner.
The ball was worked back out to Rooney after the corner was cleared, his ball towards the back post saw Curtis Davies and Evans rise but neither could get a good connection onto it and Ben Foster came out to claim the effort.
Derby progress again down the right and Byrne's cross fails to meet his target, which is happening all of the time at the minute.
Watford progress again as Femenia get the edge of the area, pulls it back for Ken Sema who is dispossessed by Bird, before Ben Wilmot fires an effort into the arms of Marshall.
The visitors came forward a minute later, but some brilliant piece of defending from Davies manages to cut the ball out ahead of Pedro for a corner which is poor, at the other end, Duane Holmes fires an effort over the bar after Rooney played him in following a lapse in concentration from Tom Cleverley.
Following some sloppy play by Watford allowed Rooney the chance to feed the ball into the area, however, William Troost-Ekong was in the correct place and he cleared the ball.
Watford went close again through Cleverley whose effort from around 25-30 yards out and fired over the bar.
It looked as though the visitors had took the lead six minutes into the second half, Pedro peeled away from his marker an collected a clever pass and slotted into the net, however, his effort is ruled out for offside.
Watford won a free-kick in a dangerous position after Evans brought down Sema, and the Derby man is booked for his foul, minutes later, penalty appeals were waved away as Nathaniel Chalobah's strike looked to have hit the arms of the Derby man with his hands in an unnatural position.
The visitors go close again when Femenia's cross couldn't find anyone in yellow to convert the effort, at the other end, Rooney manages to hold off the Watford defenders, tees up Jason Knight whose effort is fired high and wide over the bar.
Quina found space for a shot inside the 'D' but his curling effort is blocked and cleared by Derby, at the other end, Tom Lawrence turned Craig Cathcart well before driving towards goal, his effort is comfortable in the end for Foster who makes the save.
Chalobah then fired an effort over the bar from around 25-yards, minutes later, the visitors took the lead through a moment of brilliance from Pedro.
Wilmot raced forward teed up the Brazilian who turned well before curling home beyond David Marshall to give the visitors the lead, and it must be said, they were beginning to get on top in the last few minutes.
It looked as Derby would be level three minutes later, Lawrence played the ball through to Rooney, whose effort goes just wide of the ball.
Lawrence went close with two minutes of normal time when his effort was well blocked by Cleverley, before a Lawrence won a late free-kick following a challenge by Wilmot, who is booked for his foul.
Rooney stepped up around 25-yards out and fired over with Foster stood and looked on as he thought the ball was in.
Tactics spot on by Ivic as Watford come out on top
Watford boss Vladimir Ivic will be proud of his teams performance and the tactics he set have been spot on, the Rams failed to break through against the Hornets thanks to either some brilliant defending or superb saves from goalkeeper Ben Foster.
Derby County: Marshall; Evans, Davies, Clarke; Byrne, Bird, Shinnie (Hector-Ingram 80), Buchanan (Whittaker 86); Holmes (Lawrence 64), Rooney, Knight.
Substitutes (not used): Roos, Wisdom, Forsyth, Te Wierik.
Watford: Foster; Troost-Ekong (Cathcart 71), Kabasele, Wilmot; Ngakia, Cleverley, Chalobah, Sema, Femenia; Quina (Garner 89); Pedro (Murray 86).
Substitutes (not used): Bachmann, Stevenson, Hungbo, Phillips.