Cleverley was forced off injured shortly after putting Watford ahead on the stroke of half-time

Tom Cleverley’s winner helped 10-man Watford extend their good start to the Championship season and end Burnley’s unbeaten start under Vincent Kompany.

The hosts led with the game’s first effort on target just before half-time as Joao Pedro’s neat touch freed Ismaila Sarr, whose pull-back found Cleverley to side-foot into the bottom corner.

Josh Brownhill was twice denied by smart saves from Hornets goalkeeper Daniel Bachmann as the Clarets improved after the break.

The hosts lost full-back Hassane Kamara to a straight red card for pulling back Vitinho as he bore down on the penalty area, and Brownhill then turned the Brazilian’s cross against the bar, but Watford held out.

Watford were without striker Emmanuel Dennis, who is in talks with Nottingham Forest after the clubs agreed a £20m fee for the Nigerian earlier on Friday, but move top of the table going into Saturday’s matches.

Both sides went into the game having made the same start after relegation from the Premier League, following up opening-day 1-0 wins with a 1-1 draw.

And Watford boss Rob Edwards can thank a string of late saves from Austria keeper Bachmann – as well as the woodwork – for continuing his 100% Vicarage Road record.

Burnley boasted 70% possession from their opening two games under Kompany, and again had the lion’s share of the ball in a feisty opening, but a misplaced pass from goalkeeper Arijanet Muric almost gift-wrapped an opening for Sarr.

Watford gave a debut to Hamza Choudhury, two days after his move from Leicester, and stepped things up after the mid-half drinks break.

And their improvement was underlined when Cleverley marked his 33rd birthday with a first goal since January 2021, before his celebrations – and match – were cut short by a knee injury picked up in scoring.

Kompany made a double change just after the hour, including a debut for winger Nathan Tella, little more than 24 hours after completing a loan move from Southampton.

Burnley’s threat grew as Watford were pushed back, Bachmann twice denying Brownhill and then Luke McNally’s side-footed volley deep into stoppage-time.

Having won just two home games last season during their Premier League struggles, Watford have now matched that total just 12 days into their return to the Championship.

Watford manager Rob Edwards told BBC Three Counties Radio:

“It’s been a nice start [after] three very tough games and I feel really proud of the players. They have shown incredible unity and fighting spirit.

“They have not been perfect performances, but we have needed everyone, including Dan [Bachmann] right the way through the squad.

“They [Burnley] are a team that wants to have the ball and they are good at it, and when you go down to 10 men it’s going to be even more challenging, so we did have to fight.

“There was a lot of hard work and maybe a little bit of luck in there as well.”

Burnley boss Vincent Kompany told BBC Radio Lancashire:

“I think first half they were better than us. We didn’t concede chances as such, but we just couldn’t get into our game.

“In the second half it was a totally different game. We were creating chances, we didn’t let them play. We didn’t really concede any chances throughout the game, but at the end you have got to get something out of this game and we didn’t.

“We were threatening before the red card, we kept going until the end and on another day we should get a couple of goals out of this really.

“We’ll see how the rest [of the season] plays out, but we haven’t gone under against anyone and with a very new squad that’s an important sign.”

Line-ups

Watford

Formation 4-2-3-1

  • 1Bachmann
  • 3Pérez Martínez
  • 31Sierralta
  • 15Cathcart
  • 14KamaraBooked at 81mins
  • 39Kayembe
  • 4ChoudhurySubstituted forKabaseleat 82′minutes
  • 23SarrSubstituted forBayoat 64′minutes
  • 8CleverleySubstituted forGoslingat 45′minutes
  • 12Sema
  • 10João PedroSubstituted forAsprillaat 79′minutesBooked at 88mins

Substitutes

  • 2Ngakia
  • 9Manaj
  • 16Gosling
  • 18Asprilla
  • 19Bayo
  • 26Hamer
  • 27Kabasele

Burnley

Formation 4-3-3

  • 49Muric
  • 14Roberts
  • 5Harwood-Bellis
  • 3Taylor
  • 29Maatsen
  • 24CullenSubstituted forMcNallyat 90+1′minutes
  • 8BrownhillBooked at 85mins
  • 26BastienSubstituted forda Silvaat 75′minutes
  • 17ManuelSubstituted forTellaat 62′minutes
  • 10BarnesSubstituted forRodríguezat 62′minutes
  • 44CostelloeSubstituted forCorkat 45′minutes

Substitutes

  • 4Cork
  • 6Egan-Riley
  • 9Rodríguez
  • 15Peacock-Farrell
  • 21McNally
  • 22da Silva
  • 23Tella

Referee:
Thomas Bramall

Attendance:
19,225

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