Deeney at the double as Hornets cruise
Troy Deeney's double helped Watford to a comfortable 4-0 win over struggling Blackburn as Gianfranco Zola's men closed to within four points of Hull in the race for automatic promotion.
The striker scored his 17th and 18th goals of the campaign within the space of nine second-half minutes while Almen Abdi and Matthew Briggs added further goals as the Hornets recorded a first win in four attempts, and consigned Rovers - who had Leon Best sent-off in stoppage-time - to a fifth consecutive away league defeat.
With two games to go, Steve Bruce's Tigers remain favourites for second place, but Watford's much superior goal difference means Hull will need to win at least one of their remaining fixtures to prevent a late charge from the Vicarage Road club, who have now mathematically secured at least a play-off spot.
Zola recalled Fernando Forestieri in place of top-scorer Matej Vydra, who has not found the net for the Hornets since February, and the Argentina-born forward played his part with a trio of assists.
After a cagey opening, where neither side was able to take control of proceedings, Blackburn midfielder David Dunn, who was recalled to the side in the place of the injured Jason Lowe, sent a speculative volley from outside the area wide of goal in the 12th minute.
The home side's first effort on goal took 18 minutes to materialise. Abdi found Forestieri outside the Rovers penalty area but the striker's shot was easily saved low to his left by Grzegorz Sandomierski.
Watford handed Blackburn a gift in the 24th as Manuel Almunia picked up Lloyd Doyley's pass back to give Rovers an indirect free-kick inside the area. Doyley had played the ball to his goalkeeper, after play had been stopped duo to an injury to Marco Cassetti, instead of allowing Josh King to oblige, which would have allowed Almunia to handle.
Lee Williamson set-up to Scott Dann from the free-kick but the defender blazed his effort over the crossbar.
But the controversy sprung Zola's men to life and were denied an opener two minutes later by a stunning double save from Sandomierski. Pudil's cross from the right was headed goalwards by Deeney but the Polish keeper got down well to parry and he reacted superbly to prevent the ball rebounding back into his net after an inadvertent touch from Dann.
Forestieri went close in the 38th minute with a curled effort from the edge of the area before Joel Ekstrand headed over from Abdi's corner.
Watford did not have to wait long into the second period for the deadlock to be broken. Seven minutes after the interval Forestieri went past Todd Kane and fed strike-partner Deeney who skipped away from Gael Givet and arrowed a drive across Sandomierski into the bottom corner.
Rovers had struggled to get danger-man Jordan Rhodes involved but he was finally given the service in the 60th minute. Dunn picked out the Scotland international from the right but the striker failed to steer his header on target from six yards out.
And the miss proved costly as Forestieri sent Deeney clear a minute later and the striker clinically slotted in his second of the game and opened the floodgates.
Forestieri created his third goal of the contest with a through-ball for Abdi who fired in his 11th goal of the campaign.
Substitute Briggs got on the act with 15 minutes left as he calmly slotted in from close range after Blackburn had failed to clear Abdi's corner.
The afternoon got worse for Blackburn as Best was sent-off in the last minute of the game for an off-the-ball tussle with Cassetti and will now miss their last three vital games.