Pereyra at the double as Watford see off Seagulls

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Roberto Pereyra began the season in spectacular style with two goals as Watford sank sorry Brighton 2-0.

The Argentinian midfielder scored a superb volley and fine curler to ensure the Hornets got their campaign off to an encouraging start.

But Brighton’s defending let them down badly and left manager Chris Hughton shaking his head in frustration.

After all, Brighton had spent around £60million on 10 new players this summer while Watford were largely frustrated in the transfer market.

The only new face in the hosts’ starting line-up was, in fact, an old face – goalkeeper Ben Foster who rejoined from relegated West Brom.

Yet Foster almost marked his second debut with an assist, moments after Brighton striker Glenn Murray had just failed to get a head on Davy Propper’s cross.

Foster’s long goal-kick caught the Brighton defence off guard and sent Andre Gray through, only for Seagulls goalkeeper Mat Ryan to keep out the striker’s effort.

Ryan had to be on his toes again after 15 minutes, denying Troy Deeney after a loose ball landed at the Watford captain’s feet eight yards out.

Dale Stephens almost gave Brighton the lead when he volleyed Bruno’s centre across goal and wide.

But the Hornets were well on top and their pressure told 10 minutes before half-time.

Brighton’s defence had just been forced into a reshuffle after skipper Bruno had gone off injured, which might explain why Pereyra was unmarked just inside the area when he met a Jose Holebas corner with a sweet volley.

It was a fabulous strike, though, and although Ryan got a hand to the ball he was beaten by the pace and power as it flew into the net.

Brighton’s rearguard was guilty of daydreaming again early in the second half as a Holebas free-kick flew over everyone to the far post, where Christian Kabasele had a free header which he guided over the crossbar.

But in the 54th minute Pereyra struck again, receiving the ball from Holebas and stealing in behind an increasingly baffled Bernardo, Brighton’s Brazilian defensive summer signing from RB Leipzig.

Pereyra still had plenty to do as he drove into the area, and with the angle narrowing he curled a superb strike past Ryan to double the lead.

Hughton threw on two more new signings, Yves Bissouma and club-record capture Alireza Jahanbakhsh, but they were unable to spark a comeback.

Brighton had the worst away record in the Premier League last season, and on this evidence they will need to improve significantly if they are to extend their stay for a third year.

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