Marco Silva described Marvin Zeegelaar’s sending off as a “harsh decision” but was pleased with the attitude shown by his players as they sought to get back on terms in their 1-0 defeat to Burnley.

The Hornets left-back saw red for a challenge on Steven Defour in the latter stages of the first half and it was to get even worse for the Hornets before the break when Scott Arfield netted what proved to be the winner.

“It is a harsh, harsh decision by the referee,” said the Watford head coach of the sending off before he evaluated how the game had unfolded.

“We knew before the match what type of game it would be,” Silva continued. “Burnley are strong here and strong with the first and second ball. We prepared well and we started very well, with quality, with a good attitude.

“In the first 20 minutes we had a chance with Richarlison and Troy [Deeney] and after the biggest chance until that moment with Richarlison.

“Of course Burnley react which is normal and until the red card the game is really balanced. And after came the decision which had a big influence on the rest of the game. It was a harsh decision, I don’t think it’s fair in that moment, and after they scored.

“Even with 10 players we reacted and we create some chances to equalise. I didn’t see one minute of the second half where Burnley had the game under control. We kept the result open and our boys worked really hard and their attitude was fantastic again and we believed until the end. I think the result is not fair for us and the decision of the referee as well.”

The Hornets boss sought to speak to referee Lee Probert after the game, but asked what the official had said, Silva responded: “He didn’t want to say anything to me, he didn’t want to speak, I don’t know why."

It was also put to Silva that Zeegelaar’s challenge had been two-footed, but Silva countered: “In that moment when Marvin touched the ball I didn’t see Defour with the ball in his feet. It’s a different situation if Defour has the ball in his feet and Marvin makes that type of challenge. Defour in that moment didn’t have the ball at his feet.”