Queens Park Rangers


First-half goals from Tom Dele-Bashiru, Imrân Louza, Matheus Martins and Vakoun Bayo powered Watford to an emphatic 4-0 opening-day win over QPR at a damp Vicarage Road, as Valérien Ismaël’s tenure in charge started in empathic fashion.

Dele-Bashiru was celebrating his first league strike for the club within the first minute of referee Thomas Bramall’s whistle for kick-off, and the impressive Louza steered home a second before the midway point in the first 45.

Martins and Bayo gave the home fans more to shout about before the interval, and while there were no further changes to the scoreline in the second half there was barely a sniff of a chance for the visiting R’s.

Top of the Sky Bet Championship ranks after the first of 46 outings, the Golden Boys will look to replicate such promising form on their travels at Stevenage in the Carabao Cup on Tuesday (August 8, 7.45pm KO), before a home clash against Plymouth Argyle back in the league next Saturday (August 12, 3pm KO).

Head Coach Ismaël named summer re-signing Martins alongside loan returnee Bayo in attack from the off, while the former’s fellow recent arrivals Jake Livermore, Giorgi Chakvetadze and Rhys Healey were named among the substitutes.

It was a dream start for the Hornets who went in front with just 33 seconds on the clock, new No.10 Louza expertly clipping the ball between the away defence to find Dele-Bashiru, who coolly slotted home off goalkeeper Asmir Begović.

Bayo had a good chance to double the advantage in the ninth minute, but could only divert his header from a James Morris cross straight at Begović, while back at the other end there were some confident early touches for Wesley Hoedt and new Club Captain Daniel Bachmann that helped snuff out tentative signs of Rangers danger.

On top from the first whistle, Watford made their pressure count in the 20th minute when Louza made it 2-0, the Morocco international unleashing a sumptuous, curled strike from 25 yards that evaded Begović’s outstretched arm and nestled into the bottom corner.

The hosts continued in the ascendancy as the clock ticked past the half-hour mark, with over 70 per cent of possession, and Jeremy Ngakia went close to opening his account for the club from a tight angle before Hoedt had a go from the resultant corner.

Another Louza-Dele-Bashiru link-up almost delivered the third goal when the latter volleyed straight at Begović, but it wasn’t long before Martins notched his first in a Watford shirt - with a looping header from a Ken Sema cross - to give the Golden Boys a commanding lead in the 38th minute.

Three quickly became four when Bayo got in on the action just two minutes before half-time, the Ivory Coast forward latching onto Francisco Sierralta’s pass across goal at the back post.

Bayo nearly added to his tally moments later when he once again evaded the QPR backline to meet a ball over the top, but his lobbed effort - similar to the one that earned him a goal against Peterborough in pre-season - bounced narrowly over the crossbar.

QPR boss Gareth Ainsworth made a double change at the break in response to the scoreline and his team’s disappointing performance, with Stephen Duke-McKenna and Sinclair Armstrong both being introduced, while Ryan Andrews came on in place of the cautioned Morris for Watford.

Ismaël’s charges burst out of the blocks once again and the lively Martins unleashed a piercing shot that flashed wide within less than three minutes of the restart, though Bachmann was required to parry a fierce Ilias Chair shot in the 54th minute.

The crossbar again came to the Hoops’ rescue on 60 minutes when Louza struck from the edge of the box after a silky counter-attacking move spearheaded by Ngakia, shortly before the former was withdrawn from the action as part of a triple substitution that saw Ismaël Koné, Livermore and Chakvetadze take to the field.

Chakvetadze took centre stage almost immediately, with some clever touches and a shot that just missed the target with seven minutes to go, shortly after a powerful Hoedt header was acrobatically tipped over the bar by the ever-busy Begović.

Andrews shot at the side netting and Sema went close as Watford kept up the pressure right up to the death, and at the end of nine minutes added on the full-time whistle confirmed a comfortable week-one win for the fourth campaign in a row.


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