Leeds United recorded a hugely important 3-0 victory in Saturday’s Premier League encounter against Watford at Vicarage Road.

Leeds United took a big leap towards Premier League safety with a 3-0 win against Watford at Vicarage Road on Saturday, inflicting further damage to the Hornets’ fading chances of staying in the top flight.

Watford desperately needed a win to keep in touch with the safety zone, especially after Everton, Newcastle, and Burnley all picked up massive results lately. But strikes from Raphinha, Rodrigo, and Jack Harrison doomed them to their ninth successive home defeat.

The Hornets lined up in a rigid 4-1-4-1 out of possession that choked the midfield, resulting in a scrappy first 20 minutes. However, Roy Hodgson’s side were ineffective in front of goal and fragile in defence, failing to capitalise on an early offensive surge as the visitors took the lead due to a bungled clearance.

Raphinha lit up the game in the 21st minute with a rare glimpse of genuine quality. Dan James slid the ball across to the Brazilian international, whose wicked shot curled past Watford goalkeeper Ben Foster and went in off the post. Leeds’ second goal came as a result of a defensive mix-up between Hassane Kamara and Samir, who were unable to deal with a simple ball, presenting Rodrigo with an open goal, which he pounced upon.

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Harrison put the game to bed by adding a third with six minutes remaining through a left-footed strike to end the game on a positive note for the Whites, who remained in 16th place with 33 points, whereas Watford are 19th in the table with 22 points. The Hard Tackle will now run the rule over Jesse Marsch’s men in what was, in the end, a comfortable afternoon at Vicarage Road.

Illan Meslier: 7/10

At first glance at the match stats, it appears the Whites’ keeper had little to do in between the sticks against a lacklustre Watford attack, as he only faced one shot on target. But the young Frenchman was put under a considerable amount of pressure early on by Watford’s set-pieces, which he enjoyed by taking a commanding approach and dominating his box. Made a great save to deny Sarr before the offside flag was raised.

Luke Ayling: 6.5/10

Ayling was very good in an attacking sense down the right flank and sparked some nice combinations. Defensively, though, it was a whole different story. He looked far too shaky at times and conceded needless fouls throughout the game. To be fair, he was under almost constant pressure as the game progressed, and made some vital interventions. He finished with seven tackles and three interceptions.

Diego Llorente: 7/10

It was a very scrappy performance by the Spanish central defender. Gave away an unnecessary foul shortly before half-time, putting his team in jeopardy, but engaged in a key last-ditch header soon after the break that prevented Watford from having a golden chance.

Llorente was largely wayward with most of the ambitious passes that he played to try and unlock Watford’s deep block. That said, he still finished with five tackles, three interceptions, and a game-high seven clearances.

Liam Cooper: 7/10

Cooper was not great with his distribution, but he more than compensated for it with his excellent defensive actions. As desperate blocks and clearances grew more common, the Leeds captain teamed up with Llorente to bail his team out of difficult situations and steer the side through a tough spell under sustained pressure.

Stuart Dallas: 5/10

A torrid afternoon for Stuart Dallas, who has been really struggling for form in recent games. He got roasted every time he was forced into a 1v1 with Sarr. He let the Senegalese in behind him on the hour-mark for what appeared to be the equaliser and a turning point in the game, but Sarr fired wide. There was a lot of room down his wing, as he was quite often caught out of position.

Robin Koch: 5/10

Koch mopped up the onslaught of loose balls in the middle third, but he frequently handed the ball back to the opposition with his very next pass. Overall, not good enough, giving up control and lacking the passing range, dynamism, and composure required for the position. It is difficult to understand why he was chosen over Kalvin Phillips as the holding midfielder.

Mateusz Klich: 5/10

Like Koch, Klich put forth a very disappointing performance. Bullied by Juraj Kucka in the middle of the park as the home side completely dominated the central midfield. Watford’s attacks down the middle twisted Klich around time and again. The Polish midfielder was too easily bypassed and mostly anonymous, and he could not really provide a stable platform for the team to move forward.

Rodrigo: 7/10

Rodrigo had a pretty quiet game until he shifted upfront once James went off. He took his goal well and anticipated the situation effectively to be in the right place at the right time to double his side’s lead. The Spaniard showed his quality on rare occasions but failed to really knit together Leeds’ midfield and attack.

Raphinha: 8.5/10

Raphinha was Leeds’ most potent goal threat and hub of creativity. He looked sharp from the opening whistle and was precise with his first meaningful chance to put the Whites ahead from range in the 21st minute. In the second half, he floated around the field, oozing elegance whenever he carried the ball and really threatened on counter-attacks.

Daniel James: 6/10

James was preferred again to the more natural option of Joe Gelhardt up top, and he just about justified his selection with a tireless performance. He showed an impeccable work rate, and it was his tenacity that allowed Raphinha to score the first goal. He showed impressive strength with his back to the goal, but he did not have a telling impact on the game.

Jack Harrison: 8.5/10

Harrison put on a high energy performance throughout, with great attacking intent and industry off the ball. He completed a game-high 9 successful tackles. The Englishman produced a couple of key passes, but he was prone to taking too many touches when Leeds needed a final pass. He made up for it, though, by fizzing a screamer for the third goal.

Substitutes

Kalvin Phillips: 6/10

The England international put up a solid performance but was a tad rusty. He did not provide Leeds with the calmness they needed at first, but he fought his way back into the game.

Sam Greenwood: 7/10

Greenwood looked really decent in his brief cameo as a No. 10. It was his through ball that set up Rodrigo’s goal.

Crysencio Summerville: N/A 

Did not play enough to warrant a rating.

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