Wolves 2 (Doherty 18, Janmaat own goal 61) Watford 0
Wolves returned to winning ways in the Premier League with a well-deserved 2-0 victory over basement side Watford.
Matt Doherty netted his first league strike of the season in the first half to finish off a neat move involving full Premier League debutant Pedro Neto. An own goal from Darryl Janmaat just after the hour mark earned Wolves their first three points since May and moved them up to 13th.
Nuno Espirito Santo’s side didn’t have it all their own way and goalkeeper Rui Patricio had to be alert to deny Jose Holebas and Tom Cleverley when the game was still evenly balanced.
But his saves allowed Wolves the platform to go on to make it two wins in a week after their penalty shootout success against Reading on Wednesday, and leave Watford without a league success in 10 matches going back to April 20.
Nuno made nine changes from the side that drew 1-1 with Reading and triumphed on penalties, with only Doherty and Neto keeping their places.
Rui Patricio, Romain Saiss (back from suspension), Conor Coady, Willy Boly, Leander Dendoncker, Jonny Castro Otto, Joao Moutinho, Raul Jimenez and Adama Traore replaced John Ruddy, Jesus Vallejo, Ryan Bennett, Max Kilman, Ruben Neves, Ruben Vinagre, Bruno Jordao, Patrick Cutrone and Morgan Gibbs-White. Coady played his 80th consecutive league game.
But the line-up saw only one alteration from the team that drew 1-1 at Crystal Palace, with Neto in for the injured Diogo Jota, who had failed to recover from a knock sustained before that game.
Wolves, again playing 3-4-3 with Neto behind Jimenez and Traore, started brightly and threatened first with Boly setting Jimenez free with a delightful pass that saw the Mexican fire into the sidenetting.
Jimenez was involved again as Neto inspired an attack from which the striker couldn’t apply the finishing touch at the far post trying to hold off Abdoulaye Doucoure.
It was left to Doherty to show Jimenez the way to goal when he put Wolves ahead in the 18th minute – the first time they had led in a Premier League game this season.
Moutinho and Jonny linked up to free Neto on the left wing and his cross was perfect for the Irishman to roll the ball into the net for his 23rd goal for the club.
With Wolves continuing to take the game to the visitors, the hosts were denied a penalty just before the break.
A cross from Traore hit defender Craig Cathcart on the hand, but VAR decided against awarding Wolves a spot kick.
Watford tried to turn the tables on Wolves after the break in a bid to drag themselves back into the game, and they had the home side in a flap within 10 minutes of the restart.
Holebas’s header was saved by Patricio from substitute Roberto Pereyra’s cross after he beat Doherty, then the goalkeeper instantly braved blocked Cleverley’s follow-up from the rebound.
Wolves responded through Neto, who drove a shot straight at Watford goalkeeper Ben Foster soon afterwards.
That proved to be the Portuguese attacker’s last piece of the action as he was replaced by Gibbs-White in the 57th minute.
The England Under-21 international played a crucial part in Wolves’ second goal, heading on Doherty’s cross after Traore’s pass on the overlap to wrong-foot Janmaat, who could only look on helplessly as his header flew past Foster into the net.
Wolves still needed to be vigilant at the other end and Patricio moved smartly to dive to his left and smother a curling shot from Danny Welbeck.
The home side reacted with a chance for Jonny, who diverted Traore’s centre off target at the far post.
Nuno then introduced more fresh legs, with Cutrone replacing Jimenez 11 minutes from time after a tireless performance from the Mexico international.
Midfielder Neves came on for Traore on 87 and his composure helped see out the win.
Wolves: Patricio; Boly, Coady, Saiss; Doherty, Moutinho, Dendoncker, Jonny; Traore (Neves 87), Neto (Gibbs-White 57), Jimenez (Cutrone 79).
Unused subs: Ruddy, Bennett, Kilman, Vinagre.
Watford: Foster, Janmaat, Cathcart, Dawson, Holebas, Sarr (Gray 71), Capoue, Doucoure, Cleverley, Deulofeu (Pereyra 46), Welbeck.
Unused subs: Gomes, Femenia, Kabasele, Quina, Chalobah.
Referee: Paul Tierney.