Goals from Watford’s Diego Fabbrini and Ikechi Anya sealed a comfortable 2-0 victory over Granada, as a full-strength Hornets side start to finalise their preparations ahead of the new Championship season.

Zola opted to start Diego Fabbrini up front for the first time with Fernando Forestieri left on the bench. Manuel Almunia returned in goal but Jonathan Hogg was not in the squad as he continues to recover from a calf injury.

Perhaps eager to cast an eye over the new signings, Hornets supporters turned out in numbers for the match with the Rous Stand full to the brim and the Family Stand opened to house the spill-over.

Watford started the brighter and could have been ahead within the first couple of minutes as Davide Faraoni, starting at right wing-back, crossed for Troy Deeney to knock down but Almen Abdi drove his half-volley wide.

Despite the humid conditions, both sides pressed high, looking to harry the opposition into mistakes in possession and some of the Hornets’ distribution at the back certainly carried tinges of pre-season rustiness.

Lewis McGugan was allowed to put forward his case for taking free-kick duties early on but his set-piece smashed into the wall before an ambitious effort soon after from Granada’s Francisco Medina Luna had Almunia scrambling, but the ball landed safely over the bar.

Watford’s Ireney was a steadying influence at the anchor of the home side’s midfield throughout. The veteran may not be seen breaking too much of a sweat this season but his composure in tight situations and clockwork-like passing could prove valuable alongside Abdi’s craft and McGugan’s athleticism.

Granada grew into the game as the half went on but never looked like troubling Watford’s back three who were untested but well-organised under the impressive stewardship of Gabriele Angella.

Fabbrini didn’t look uncomfortable either playing up front, choosing to drift around the edge of the box with the ball at his feet rather than pushing beyond Deeney or drawing his opposing defenders into physical battles.

Both sides looked content to let the game drift into the break but four minutes before half-time, it was Fabbrini who broke the deadlock. Picking the ball up on the left side of the penalty area, he dropped his shoulder to make space before drilling a superb shot into the top left-hand corner.

Granada’s only chance of the half came soon after as a through ball caught Watford’s defence too high but with just Almunia to beat, Francisco Medina Luna skewed the bouncing ball wide.

Zola made four changes for the start of the second half as Connor Smith came on for Ireney in midfield, Ikechi Anya replaced Daniel Pudil while Javier Acuna and Fernando Forestieri took the places of Deeney and Fabbrini up front.

Forestieri looked eager to state his case immediately and he nearly did so as Abdi slipped him through in the box but the forward’s finish hit the near side-netting.

Jonathan Bond, Cristian Battocchio and Reece Brown all took to the field on the hour-mark as both sides began to take advantage of tiring legs by keeping possession.

With fifteen minutes to go, Watford carved out a chance as Battocchio delivered an inch-perfect deep cross to Forestieri, who caught his first-time volley sweetly only to find the hands of the goalkeeper.

Moments later though the net did ripple for a second time, as Acuna’s through ball was latched onto by Anya who took a touch before finding the far corner with a neat left-footed finish.

Dispirited, Granada sat off in the latter stages and allowed Smith, Battocchio and Murray to pop the ball about at will as Watford closed out the win to remain unbeaten in pre-season before they play their final warm-up game against Borehamwood on Wednesday.

Watford: Almunia (c) (Bond, 59); Doyley (Ekstrand, 74), Angella (O’Nien, 88), Cassetti (Brown, 59); Faraoni, McGugan (Battocchio, 59), Iriney (Smith, 45), Abdi (Murray), Pudil (Anya, 45); Deeney (Acuna, 45), Fabbrini (Forestieri, 45)

Subs: Ekstrand, Battocchio, Forestieri, Smith, Acuna, Murray, O'Nien, Anya, Assombalonga, Ikpeazu, Mensah, Bond

Granada: Alvarellos, Nyom, Garcia, Siquiera, Soto (El Arabia, 64), Yebda (Ceoff, 74), Brahimi (Diaz, 83), Benitez (Rende, 64), Diakhate, Urrutia, Luna

Subs: Orestis, de Melo, El Arabia, Rende, Moreno, Ceoff, Rivera, Diaz, Badia

Referee: Graham Scott

Attendance: 4,963