A Matej Vydra-inspired Watford ensured Slavisa Jokanovic started his Hornets’ reign with a 3-0 victory at Sheffield Wednesday as the Hornets went top of the Championship.

With new signing Sebastien Bassong helping to provide a firm foundation at the back, Vydra and Fernando Forestieri helped create goals for Odion Ighalo and Almen Abdi in the first half at Hillsborough.

And Vydra’s clinical finish midway through the second period ensured Jokanovic’s first game as the Hornets’ head coach ended with a comfortable 3-0 win.

Troy Deeney was back in the squad after a month out with a hamstring injury but was only on the bench as Jokanovic opted for a 4-3-2-1 formation. Daniel Tozser was deeper than Abdi and Gianni Munari in a midfield trio and Forestieri and Vydra started behind Ighalo up top.

Bassong was handed his debut after joining Watford on loan from Norwich City. It was his first competitive game since April 5. The following day Neil Adams was promoted to caretaker manager and the Frenchman has not featured under the now permanent City boss.

Neither side created a clear chance in the opening 20 minutes. Forestieri had a shot deflected and for Wednesday Stevie May had an effort blocked and Gary Madine was wayward with a long-ranged strike.

Watford often struggle to break down teams who sit deep, whereas Vydra has often shown he is able to expose sides who play with a high line. So it was slightly surprising to see Stuart Gray opt to play with a high defensive line and the decision was punished midway through the first half.

Wednesday attempted the offside trap as Forestieri clipped the ball over the top and Vydra was allowed to race clear and set himself on the left corner of the penalty area. He then unselfishly squared the ball to Ighalo, whose finish from six yards was an easy one.

Wednesday’s staff were passionate in their remonstrations with the assistant referee and their fans also voiced their fury, believing Vydra was offside. Video replays appeared to show Vydra was marginally offside when Forestieri released him and Ighalo, who was a couple of yards behind the back four, was subsequently played onside by Vydra gathering the ball.

The Hornets attempted to remain patient with possession following the goal but were often unable to enter the Owls’ half as the home team pressed well. But the visitors were still the better team and arguably deserved to be ahead.

There was an element of fortune as Watford doubled their advantage though eight minutes before the break. Wednesday goalkeeper Keiren Westwood, who had just received treatment following a collision with Forestieri, allowed a tame 20-yard shot from Abdi to squirm through his hands into the bottom corner.

Watford Observer: Watford celebrate after scoring at  Sheffield Wednesday. Picture: Action Images

The Golden Boys were not at their best but they had two efforts at goal in the first half and took both of them. The Hornets also passed the ball better in the opening 45 minutes than the home side, who sent several aimless passes out of play.

Sheffield Wednesday offered more of a threat going forward in the second period. Heurelho Gomes struggled to handle a long-range shot by Jacques Maghoma shortly after the restart and Madine was unable to guide a header goalwards following a cross from Royston Drenthe – the half-time substitute who cost Real Madrid €14m in 2007.

But for all of the Owls’ increased pressure, the Golden Boys should have been out of sight before an hour was even on the clock, with Vydra leading the way following another display reminiscent of his 2012 form.

It was his deflected cross which resulted in Ighalo volleying over from close range. He then had a low shot saved himself and moments later set Forestieri free, only for the forward to hit the outside of the post when one-on-one.

Vydra finally got the goal his performance deserved midway through the second half when substitute Juan Carlos Paredes picked out his run and, from an angle, lifted the ball over the on-rushing Westwood for 3-0.

Paredes’ arrival for Forestieri just before the goal resulted in the Golden Boys switching to a 4-4-2, with the Ecuador full back on the right of midfield and Abdi on the left.

Drenthe had a low shot parried wide with the score 2-0 and he looked most likely to provide Wednesday with a way back into the contest, cutting in from the right wing. The former Netherlands international again forced Watford’s goalkeeper into a good stop with a 25-yard strike.

Jose Semedo also should have tested Gomes when he missed the ball as it dropped to him ten yards from goal.

Madine headed over, Drenthe had a penalty appeal turned down late on and Tom Lees headed against the post with the final attack of the game. But the Hornets retained the clean sheet and their 3-0 win ensured they moved top of the Championship and handed Jokanovic the perfect welcome present.

Sheffield Wednesday line-up: Westwood; Palmer, Loovens, Lees (Nuhiu 68), Mattock; Hope (Drenthe 45), Lee, Hutchinson (Semedo 7), Maghoma; May, Madine.

Subs: Kirkland, Coke, Helan, Dielna.

Watford line-up: Gomes; Doyley, Ekstrand, Bassong, Pudil; Abdi (Dyer 79), Tozser, Munari; Vydra, Forestieri (Paredes 68); Ighalo (Deeney 81).

Subs: Bond, McGugan, Murray, Hoban.

Referee: Jeremy Simpson.

20,909 (1,444 away fans).