Derby 0-1 Watford: Pressure growing on Phillip Cocu as Joao Pedro’s stunning curler gives Hornets victory at the Rams to leave home side with just one win from five matches
- Watford beat Derby County 1-0 away from home to move into the play-off spots
- Joao Pedro curled home a stunning finish with 15 minutes to go on Friday night
- Wayne Rooney missed a one-on-one chance in Derby’s best attacking chance
- Phillip Cocu’s side have just one win from five Championship games this season
Brazilian teenager Joao Pedro has been bulking up so he can handle the rough and tumble of English football.
He has added seven kilos of muscle but not at the cost of losing his magic touch.
One moment of quality – actually the only wow moment of a tight encounter – saw the striker deliver a wonder goal which had the dual effect of catapaulting Watford into fifth and pile the pressure back on to Derby coach Philip Cocu.
Joao Pedro hit a stunning winner as Watford beat Derby 1-0 away from home on Friday night
Pedro (left) curled in a sensational shot from the edge of the area to give the Hornets the win
Speculation that Wayne Rooney is waiting in the wings was dismissed as ‘rubbish’ by County owner Mel Morris before kick-off.
To reinforce the message, Morris and his head coach could be seen chatting and laughing together and generally hammering home a hugely visual confirmation of Cocu’s job security.
Behind the jollity, both men recognise things must improve dramatically. Results today could put the Rams into the relegation zone.
Derby’s Mel Morris (R) may have a choice to make on Phillip Cocu (L) after another Derby loss
Pressure is growing on Cocu (above) whose Derby side have picked up just one win in five
Cocu was upbeat and optimistic afterwards as he said: ‘We should have had at least a point if you look at the game. When you play a good game and you don’t win it is hard. Sometimes it can be frustrating.
‘We took the initiative, we had the right attitude, we were on the front foot and we were vocal. Confidence and spirit is good.
‘The quality of one player made the difference. We had opportunities to score and we didn’t do it.’
Wayne Rooney (left) missed a free-kick late on but couldn’t score past Ben Foster (right)
Derby checked out for the international break on the back of a 1-0 win at Norwich, delivered by a Rooney free kick and it was the former England captain who came the closest last night.
But Pride Park has produced very little cheer with Derby still looking for their first Championship home win of the season.
Supporters are grumpy too, about results and now at the departure of favourite Jack Marriott on loan to Sheffield Wednesday.
Watford coach Vladimir Ivic, annoyed that Watford were picked for the Friday night match because so many of his players have been away, said: ‘Pedro is a creator, he had one good opportunity to shoot and it was fantastic finishing but he also worked hard and that made me happy.’