LONDON: One of the loudest cheers of the afternoon came after full-time as the sta-dium announcer informed the Watford supporters that their team had climbed to ninth in the Premier League.
Watford are a club enjoying -every moment of their stay in the top flight, and on the evidence of this, their second home win of the season, it will be a prolonged one.
West Ham United have amply demonstrated the threat they pose away from home this season, but in this intriguing encounter they rarely troubled a superbly organised Watford defence.
"The boys played really well," said Quique Sanchez Flores, the Watford manager. "The plan was to stop the counter-attack of West Ham, to -defend as high up the pitch as possible," he said, describing the victory as his team's best performance of the season.
West Ham had started brightly and, predictably, the first moment of class came from Dimitri Payet who bemused Ben Watson with some clever footwork before releasing Victor Moses, who had drifted marginally offside.
However, the rest of the afternoon belonged to Watford, and in particular Odion Ighalo, who did not allow a physical West Ham defence to settle into the match. The Nigerian, yet another arrival from Udinese, a branch of the Pozzo family empire, scored his sixth and seventh goals of the season to seal a second home win for his side.
"Everyone knows that he's a very -important player for us," Flores said. "But a lot of players had the opportunity to score today. We are playing very well. We kept the ball with confidence and that is good for the future."
Ighalo came close to leaving the club for China in the summer but both he and Flores are reaping the rewards of his decision to remain in England. "Ighalo took a very important decision to stay here in Watford. He is a wonderful man," Flores said.
The 26-year-old capitalised on calamitous errors from West Ham either side of half-time and Slaven Bilic's side never looked like coming back, so resolute was Watford's organisation.
"Against Arsenal we played well for one hour and made mistakes for 10 minutes," Flores said. "If you want to win matches, you need to play like a block. You have to respect the system."
Andy Carroll is of much more use in the opposition penalty area than his own and the crucial breakthrough came when Nathan Ake robbed him to square across goal and give Ighalo a simple finish, via Aaron Cresswell.
Bilic responded to a disappointing first half by introducing Mauro Zarate and Enner Valencia at the break, but though Valencia struck a post midway through the half, Watford remained in control. "They totally deserved to get three points from this game," Bilic said. "We gave them a hand, we helped them. You can live with defeats if your team gave everything and today we didn't. We have to make sure that this was a one-off."
It was a match of egregious defending from West Ham and the second goal saw James Tomkins at fault, failing to clear Ikechi's Anya's low cross. Ighalo sniffed out the danger and finished superbly with his left foot.
West Ham's afternoon got worse six minutes from time when James Collins charged wildly into the back of Ighalo to receive his marching orders. "It didn't affect the outcome. It wasn't reckless, it wasn't dangerous it was just unnecessary," Bilic said of the challenge.