Luton’s James Collins thumped a shot against the bar moments before Watford opened the scoring

Joao Pedro’s goal earned Watford victory over Luton in the first meeting between the rivals in 14 years as the Hornets maintained their unbeaten Championship start.

The Brazilian forward, on his 19th birthday, converted Ken Sema’s low cross from close range less than a minute after a James Collins shot struck the underside of the bar for the visitors.

Luton could not create any more clear openings and would have lost by a wider margin had keeper Simon Sluga not saved brilliantly from Watford midfielders James Garner and Tom Dele-Bashiru.

The lack of fans at Vicarage Road took away much of the intensity from what was a hotly anticipated match.

Vladimir Ivic’s Hornets are still yet to concede in the league this season and have seven points from three games, bouncing back from their surprise midweek Carabao Cup defeat against League Two side Newport.

Defeat for Luton sees them drop their first points of the campaign – off the back of a 3-0 cup loss to Manchester United on Tuesday.

Watford gave a first start of the season to winger Ismaila Sarr – who has been linked with Liverpool and, more recently, Aston Villa this summer – while talisman Troy Deeney came off the bench in the closing stages for his first appearance since their relegation from the Premier League.

The Hatters really ought to have led when Collins could not keep his shot down from six yards from Harry Cornick’s cross, and Pedro punished them – albeit with the help of a deflection off defender Sonny Bradley on its way in.

Republic of Ireland striker Collins also had Luton’s best second-half opportunity, firing over when two team-mates were arguably better placed.

It means Watford are unbeaten in 10 league meetings with their Bedfordshire foes and have kept clean sheets in their opening three league games for the first time since the 1988-89 season.

Line-ups

Watford

  • 1Foster
  • 3Ngakia
  • 15Cathcart
  • 27Kabasele
  • 6Wilmot
  • 12Sema
  • 16Garner
  • 8Cleverley
  • 14Chalobah

    Substituted forDele-Bashiruat 63’minutes

  • 23Sarr

    Substituted forQuinaat 90+3’minutes

  • 10João Pedro

    Substituted forDeeneyat 89’minutes

Substitutes

  • 4Dawson
  • 9Deeney
  • 17Murray
  • 20Quina
  • 21Femenía
  • 24Dele-Bashiru
  • 26Bachmann

Luton

  • 12Sluga
  • 2Cranie
  • 6PearsonBooked at 75mins
  • 5Bradley
  • 24Norrington-DaviesBooked at 90mins
  • 17Mpanzu
  • 7Cornick
  • 8Berry
  • 4Tunnicliffe

    Substituted forLuaLuaat 78’minutes

  • 10Lee

    Substituted forClarkat 58’minutes

  • 19Collins

    Substituted forHyltonat 71’minutes

Substitutes

  • 1Shea
  • 9Hylton
  • 14Moncur
  • 15Lockyer
  • 18Clark
  • 20Kioso
  • 25LuaLua

Match Stats

Live Text

  1. Match ends, Watford 1, Luton Town 0.

  2. Second Half ends, Watford 1, Luton Town 0.

  3. Rhys Norrington-Davies (Luton Town) wins a free kick on the left wing.

  4. Foul by James Garner (Watford).

  5. Corner, Watford. Conceded by Rhys Norrington-Davies.

  6. Attempt blocked. Troy Deeney (Watford) right footed shot from the right side of the box is blocked. Assisted by Domingos Quina.

  7. Rhys Norrington-Davies (Luton Town) is shown the yellow card.

  8. Substitution, Watford. Domingos Quina replaces Ismaila Sarr.

  9. Foul by Sonny Bradley (Luton Town).

  10. Craig Cathcart (Watford) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  11. Substitution, Watford. Troy Deeney replaces João Pedro because of an injury.

  12. Offside, Watford. Craig Cathcart tries a through ball, but Ismaila Sarr is caught offside.

  13. Attempt missed. Luke Berry (Luton Town) left footed shot from outside the box is too high.

  14. Foul by Kazenga LuaLua (Luton Town).

  15. Tom Cleverley (Watford) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  16. Corner, Watford. Conceded by Simon Sluga.

  17. Attempt saved. Tom Dele-Bashiru (Watford) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom right corner. Assisted by Ismaila Sarr.

  18. Foul by Danny Hylton (Luton Town).

  19. Tom Dele-Bashiru (Watford) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

  20. Substitution, Luton Town. Kazenga LuaLua replaces Ryan Tunnicliffe.