A controlled performance, capped by two fine goals, saw Watford continue their increasingly impressive unbeaten start to the season with a deserved 2-0 victory over Southampton.

The win, the Hornets’ second successive away triumph on the south coast, was secured with a strike in each half from outside the penalty area by Abdoulaye Doucoure and Daryl Janmaat.

Marc Silva’s men were winning their midfield battles from early on and this gave them a degree of control which increased as the half wore on to ensure they were the better team by the time Abdoulaye Doucoure made the breakthrough with a crisp strike seven minutes before the break.

The Saints had more possession and territory after the break, but not to the extent they were ever able to build up a sustained head of steam. But there was concern the tide could turn when the Hornets’ limited defensive resources were stretched further on the hour when Younes Kaboul and Kiko Femenia were both forced off for injury.

But the Hornets’ response to this unwanted setback was telling as Daryl Janmaat announced his arrival off the bench in some style, cracking in a superb second from 25 yards to establish clear daylight.

It was a position the visitors were to hold onto with relative comfort as they not only made it four games unbeaten with back-to-back away wins, but also recorded a third straight clean sheet.

Silva was always going to have to make two changes from the 10-man team that drew 0-0 against Brighton & Hove Albion prior to the international break, with Miguel Britos suspended and Nordin Amrabat having departed on a season-loan loan, but the hamstring injury Sebastian Prodl sustained on international duty meant the Hornets boss was forced into a third.

Kaboul, who had been sidelined with his own injury problem, returned to the back-four, Jose Holebas was back at left-back following his one-match suspension, while Andre Carrillo made his full debut on the right wing.

Despite having no fresh injury concerns, Mauricio Pellegrino also decided to make three changes from the Saints’ goalless draw at Huddersfield Town last time out.

New signing Wesley Hoedt came into the heart of the defence, while James Ward-Prowse and former Hornets transfer target Sofiane Boufal were preferred in midfield. The trio they replaced – Maya Yoshida, Dusan Tadic and Mario Lemina – were among the replacements.

There was early concern for the visitors when Nathaniel Chalobah was clattered from behind in front of the dug-outs, but despite looking in some discomfort he was able to continue after receiving treatment.

The new England squad member was soon involved positively, almost setting Andre Gray away with a slide-rule pass that was intercepted, but within a minute a covering Femenia was having to show his qualities at reading the game to prevent Manolo Gabbiadini being set away as Saints countered from a Hornets free-kick.

Having safely dealt with Ward-Prowse’s first corner of the match, Watford threatened to unpick the Saints defence when Tom Cleverley, who had dropped deep, lifted a ball into Carrillo on the right. The Preuvian came inside and found Chalobah, who had started positively and was looking to operate further forward when possible, but he was unable to slide a pass through to a teammate.

The Hornets had started well though, and were winning the central midfield battles, but it took until the 22nd minute for them to conjure their first goal attempt when Holebas’ curled a 25-yard free-kick a couple of yards wide of Fraser Forster’s near post.

The Saints keeper would have had a save to make moments later when Richarlison cut in off the left and beat a couple of opponents before trying a low curler, but Jack Stephens’ outstretched right leg diverted the ball away for a corner which came to nothing.

The visitors’ performance had been encouraging without offering too much of a goal threat, but that was to change in the 38th minute when they took the lead with a fine strike.

A Holebas long throw from the right was half-cleared to the edge of the area where Docuoure brought the ball down before hitting a half-volley from around 25 yards which the diving Forster was unable to get to as he dived to his left.

The Hornets were threatening again soon after when Richarlison drove in from the left and struck a shot that wasn’t too far wide of the Saints keeper’s near post.

Another opportunity followed in the last minute of the opening period when Cleverley ran into space on the left to latch onto a pass before cutting it back across the area where Doucoure took it first time and fired a rising drive over the top.

Given Watford’s first-half supremacy in midfield, it was no surprise that Pellegrino opted for a change at the start of the second half, with Tadic replacing Ward-Prowse.

But it was the visitors who had the first effort after the restart, with Gray letting Cleverley’s lay back from the left run for Chalobah, who struck a first-time effort from 22 yards which didn’t overly trouble Forster.

Southampton had the better of territory and possession for a spell as they tried to get back on terms, with Kaboul forced to turn away Ryan Bertrand’s close-range effort.

The hosts continued to try and crank things up, with Christian Kabasele the next to have to make a last-ditch intervention to prevent Stephens getting a clean strike on goal from a set-piece.

Prior to that though, Kaboul looked to have picked up an injury and the Hornets’ defensive resources were soon stretched even further when it was clear Femenia would also be unable to continue. Their places were taken by Adrian Mariappa and Janmaat as Silva was forced into an unwanted double change.

The hosts must have sensed this could be their moment given the disruption to their opponents. Watford’s response was to score a peach of a second goal.

It originated as the Hornets built down the left and the ball broke across to Janmaat, who took aim before firing a superb arrow-like drive past Forster and into the far corner to make it 2-0.

Pellegrino’s response was to make two changes in quick succession; Shane Long replacing Gabbiadini before Charlie Austin came on for Boufal.

The Saints continued to have plenty of the ball without really threatened to get back into the contest, while their opponents made their final change with six minutes to go when Troy Deeney replaced Gray.

Although the game was all but one, Watford didn’t back off in the closing stages and looked for a third where possible, with Richarlison stumbling when almost through while Carrillo lashed over from the edge of the area.

Heurelho Gomes had to leap to his left to keep out a rising drive from Nathan Redmond, but Watford almost added a third to round off a fine afternoon when Carrillo curled wide late on.

Southampton: Forster; Cedric, Stephens, Hoedt, Bertrand; Davis, Romeu; Ward-Prowse (Tadic 46), Boufal (Austin 71), Redmond; Gabbiadini (Long 69). Not used: McCarthy, Yoshida, Lemina, McQueen.

Watford: Gomes; Femenia (Janmaat 60), Kabasele, Kaboul (Mariappa 60), Holebas; Doucoure, Chalobah; Carrillo, Cleverley, Richarlison; Gray (Deeney 84). Not used: Karnezis, Success, Watson, Capoue.

Bookings: None.

Referee: Lee Probert.