Watford ran out comfortable 3-0 winners at St James’ Park as they outplayed a poor Newcastle United.

The Hornets took the lead inside 20 minutes through Will Hughes’ effort before a DeAndre Yedlin own-goal made it 2-0 in first half stoppage time.

Andre Gray added a third in the second period to seal a routine win which leaves Watford within a point of fifth-place in the Premier League.

Their ambitions of making a lasting impact near the top of the table will be tested further on Tuesday night when Manchester United visit Vicarage Road.

A 2-0 win at West Ham United last time out saw Marco Silva reward his players with an unchanged starting XI.

He did, however, make changes on the bench as Stefano Okaka and Jose Holebas made way for Daryl Janmaat and Ben Watson.

The Magpies started the better of the two sides and really should have led inside three minutes after Jacob Murphy was sent clear down the left.

His pull-back was perfectly weighted for the unmarked Joselu who inexplicably fired into his standing leg from eight yards to spurn the fine opening.

After a spell of Watford control, Matt Ritchie was the next to try his luck for the hosts, cutting in from the right and drilling a low shot into the side-netting from the edge of the box.

Watford have enjoyed much of their success on the road when playing on the counter this term and it was little surprise to see them employ the tactic once again on Tyneside.

The approach yielded their first genuine opening with a quarter of an hour played as Abdoulaye Doucoure collected a loose ball and immediately clipped over the top for Richarlison.

Watford’s Brazilian has been a revelation since joining from Fluminense in the summer – scoring five times – and controlled the ball confidently before forcing a save low to Rob Elliot’s left.

The Watford opener arrived moments later after a fine move down the left saw Christian Kabasele release Marvin Zeeegelaar.

He played a smart pull-back to the edge of the box where Hughes, who had drifted in from his wide right position, swept a calm left-footed finish across goal and into the bottom right corner.

They could have been two clear soon after when Zeegelaar, who was having repeated joy down the left, sent a cross to the back post where Doucoure volleyed wide.

Newcastle were still having a say in matters going forward, particularly when they got the ball wide.

Kabasele and Adrian Mariappa were largely dealt with whatever United offered as their delivery was found wanting in the first period.

Still Watford the 2-0 lead which Watford secured in stoppage time flattered the Hornets somewhat, not that would bother them, Again the goal came down the left as Zeegelaar, who provided a constant threat, fired a low cross into the near post which the unfortunate Yedlin could only turn beyond a despairing Elliot.

It should have been 3-0 early in the second period when Zeegelaar released Gray with a ball down the left channel.

Having beaten the offside, Gray had the freedom of Newcastle to charge down on goal, but a poor touch took him onto his weaker left side and he screwed wide when through on goal.

Gray should have been presented with a tap in when Richarlison latched onto a slip by Yedlin and raced in on goal.

However, instead of squaring for a simple tap-in for his teammate, Richarlison opted to go alone, lost possession and the chance went begging.

The duo would, however, combine just after the hour when Richarlison did superbly to keep a hopeful ball down the left alive.

After carrying possession towards the edge of the box, he lifted in a pinpoint cross which Gray gleefully turned home from close range on the slide.

The goal effectively killed the game as a contest, but Heurelho Gomes still had to be alert to deny Joselu with a smart save minutes later.

It was as close as Newcastle would come to grabbing any sort of a lifeline in the second half as the Hornets saw out the rest of the game in comfort.

The victory is their fourth win on the road this season and keeps them well on track in the pursuit of a top half finish at the very least.

Newcastle United XI: Elliot; Manquilo, Clark, Lejeune, Yedlin, Shelvey, Diame (Merino 69), Ritchie, Gayle, Murphy (Perez 77), Joselu (Mitrovic 69)

Subs not used: Aarons; Mbemba, Darlow, Gamez

Watford XI: Gomes (GK) (C); Mariappa, Kabasele, Britos (Prodl 52), Femenía, Cleverley, Doucouré, Zeegelaar; Hughes (Carrillo 84), Richarlison (Pereyra 79), Gray

Subs not used: Janmaat; Watson, Capoue, Karnezis