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RATINGS: C’mon, Etienne – stop messing about. Who really was Watford’s man of the match?

Costel Pantilimon 7.5
It’s two clean sheets out of two for Watford’s new goalkeeper. In a competition he knows well, having appeared in it 12 times for Manchester City and Sunderland, Pantilimon was calm, assured and commanding in his area. At 6ft 8in he didn’t even have to jump to catch Leeds United corners. Caught crosses from Stuart Dallas and Charlie Taylor to snuff out any potentially dangerous Leeds United attacks and only had to make one save, a long-range Liam Bridcutt effort. He caught it well at the second attempt. Watford now have a top-class, reliable back-up goalkeeper.

Picture by Paul Dawson
Picture by Paul Dawson

Juan Carlos Paredes 6
Amid the dip in Allan Nyom’s form, Paredes gave Quique Sanchez Flores something to think about ahead of Saturday’s league fixture. He was a live wire going forward, getting to the byline in the first half. Dovetailing down the right with Etienne Capoue, Paredes showed flair and unpredictability when in the opposition half, particularly when he cut inside Lewis Cook and poked a pass forward to Nordin Amrabat. Played a number of incisive balls forward to Amrabat and Odion Ighalo throughout the match, though he could not find Watford shirts with his balls from wide positions. His defensive positioning was again suspect as he was beaten easily by Marco Antenucci early on, and was booked for a tug back on Lewis Cook.

Picture by Paul Dawson
Picture by Paul Dawson

Craig Cathcart 7
Performed as well alongside Miguel Britos as he did alongside Sebastien Prodl last weekend, showing it’s him who is the one constant. Had less to do than his South American defensive partner but cleared any danger with minimal fuss. Had more time on the ball than he does in Premier League matches and was able to produce a couple of the perfectly-weighted balls forward we saw in pre-season. Headed two good chances well over from Ben Watson corners.

Picture by Paul Dawson
Picture by Paul Dawson

Miguel Britos 8
Provided further evidence to support the view he is one of the best centre-backs to pull on a Watford shirt, perhaps the second best. Was a presence in the box, blocking and clearing a number of Dallas deliveries from wide, and showed his versatility by diving forward to intercept a dangerous ball towards Cook early in the second half. His awareness is of the highest order and he was the coolest man in the ground when he calmly raised a hand and waited for the flag to be raised to signal Antenucci was offside. Should have done much better with three efforts on goal, all from Watson, but he showed good movement and determination to get there in the first place.

Picture by Paul Dawson
Picture by Paul Dawson

Jose Holebas 8.5
Another solid performance from the left-back, who would be justifiably be disappointed if he was, again, dropped in favour of Nathan Ake on Saturday. Each week he shows more evidence of the form which kept Ashley Cole out of the Roma side last season. Was calm in defence, making vital interceptions and knew exactly when to play the ball off an attacker to win a throw and when to launch it up field towards Nordin Amrabat. His commitment was summed up by the way he busted a gut to keep a ball in play near the halfway line after Mario Suarez allowed it past him. Linked up well with Almen Abdi going forward and his crosses towards Amrabat and Troy Deeney were dangerous. Went close with one long-range shot.

Picture by Paul Dawson
Picture by Paul Dawson

Etienne Capoue 7
Will he ever score for Watford? The inch-perfect finish from a tight angle looked as though it would be his first for the Hornets but it was harshly ruled out for a debatable foul committed by Troy Deeney. When he advanced towards the Leeds goal again, this time late on, he had too much time on his hands and blasted the ball over the bar. Was guilty of again overplaying and showboating while his laconic style resulted in him losing possession on a couple of occasions, but he spread the play well, covered every blade of grass and seemed to have a license to get into the box.

Picture by Paul Dawson
Picture by Paul Dawson

Ben Watson 7.5
Edged closer to another FA Cup final appearance with an assured performance. He may have been on the end of a set piece to score in that match at Wembley, but it was his deliveries that stood out against Leeds United. He created chances for Cathcart, Britos and Deeney and it was his curling cross that led to the winning goal for the second successive week. He was overshadowed in midfield by the slick skills of Capoue, Suarez and Almen Abdi, but the Englishman did the dirty work that allowed them to play. Had a powerful shot blocked in the dying moments after Deeney teed him up from a free-kick.

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Picture by Paul Dawson

Mario Suarez 6.5
Is yet to fully show just what the fuss around his signing is all about but this was his best appearance in a Hornets shirt. After delaying on the ball and losing possession to Souleymane Doukara, he was quick to jump in and win back possession. His tackling was an asset but his tenacity was too much at times, as he conceded a number of fouls in midfield, including one particularly poor challenge on Bridcutt. His ability to pick a pass was there for all to see, not least when he effortlessly curled a world-class pass over the heads of the Leeds midfielders. An air shot was not his finest moment but Capoue’s effort seconds later was even worse.

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Picture by Paul Dawson

Almen Abdi 7
Showed glimpses of his form of last season as he played, alongside Troy Deeney, in the line between midfield and attack. It’s the position which best suits Abdi’s creative talent. Intercepted a pass in his own half and played a smart one-two with Deeney to quickly advance up field, but lacked the pace to go past his marker. A mazy run through midfield and into the Leeds box looked destined to end in an Abdi special but the midfielder fired over the bar. Was substituted in the second half but perhaps that was so he could get away quickly to catch his flight back to Switzerland for a two-day break.

Picture by Paul Dawson
Picture by Paul Dawson

Nordin Amrabat 6
Was, in theory, leading the line for Watford, but regularly found himself out wide and asked to use his pace and get balls into the box. Never gave up on a lost cause and eagerly chased two Holebas clearances that many would have given up on. Giuseppe Bellusci made him look silly by flicking a ball over his head and the Moroccan was outmuscled by Sol Bamba in a foot race at least twice. Was lively and got around the pitch, putting in the cross for Capoue’s disallowed goal but did not show enough to suggest he will be pushing Deeney or Odion Ighalo for their spot in Watford’s strongest side. He and Jose Manuel Jurado look to be fighting for one spot. Such a character, though, and shook the referee’s hand when he was substituted.

Picture by Paul Dawson
Picture by Paul Dawson

Troy Deeney 6
No Watford player has scored more goals against Leeds than Deeney, who has six, and the captain was close to a seventh within seconds of kick-off only for his effort to be deflected just wide of the scrambling Silvestri’s goal. Showed he’s got brains as well as brawn by nutmegging Bamba on the left-hand edge of the box and was, momentarily, restored to his favoured No.9 role until Ighalo came on. Did not scale the heights he reached at Palace and perhaps, just perhaps, the occasion of playing against the team his father supported was overwhelming. He was unfortunate to concede a soft foul on Charlie Taylor which denied Capoue his long-awaited first Watford goal.

Picture by Paul Dawson
Picture by Paul Dawson

Substitutes
Odion Ighalo 5
Replaced Amrabat and looked off the pace during his 20-minute appearance. Came off the bench to get the winner at Forest in the last round but never looked like grabbing the cushion of a second here.

Adlene Guedioura 6
Had less than 20 minutes to make an impact as he replaced Almen Abdi and took up a position on the right of midfield. Reminded the adoring Vicarage Road faithful of his capabilities with a whipped cross in the box from wide, but it was too quick for Ighalo.

Ikechi Anya
Was only on the field for a matter of minutes but almost set up a goal when he intercepted the ball in midfield and darted forward. His cross was too powerful for Ighalo, who failed to control, so perhaps he should have had an effort himself.