Not being clinical enough in front of the opposition goal has cost Watford this season but a ruthlessly efficient performance saw them swat aside Rotherham United 5-0 to secure their biggest victory in approaching three years at Vicarage Road.

A Mileta Rajovic brace and single strikes from Edo Kayembe, Tom Ince and Matheus Martins enabled the Hornets to secure a five-goal winning margin for the first time since beating Bristol City 6-0 in February 2021 and extend their unbeaten run to a sixth game going into the third international break of the season.

The Hornets had a firm grip on the contest by half-time thanks to the same routine working to goal-scoring effect at either end of the opening 45 minutes – Ken Sema delivering the ball for Rajovic to convert from close range on both occasions.

Rotherham had offered little in the first half to suggest they were capable of getting back into the contest and the destiny of the points was confirmed within ten minutes of the restart when Kayembe netted his first Hornets goal after surging run forward from Ryan Porteous.

Ince came off the bench and finished off a counter-attacking move to make it four and fellow substitute Martins added the fifth in added time to put the gloss on a very good afternoon’s work.

Rotherham offered very little as an attacking force, ensuring Ben Hamer had a quiet afternoon between the posts after Daniel Bachmann had been ruled out through concussion, while in front of him the home side were defensively solid, with Wesley Hoedt’s composure on the ball making him the stand-out performer in that department.

Jake Livermore did well in front of the back four, getting it and giving it while making a number of timely interceptions, and the midfield balance looked good thanks to the combination of graft, energy and quality on the ball from Kayembe and Ismael Kone.

Sema’s deliveries into Rajovic showed what the Hornets could achieve when the ball was put into dangerous areas and in the first half there were other promising crossing opportunities that were passed up.

What was impressive though, was the manner in which their five goals came from only eight on-target attempts to ensure a strong and confident all-round display was handsomely rewarded to move Watford up to 13th in the table going into the enforced break in the campaign.

Valerien Ismael had revealed there were some injury doubts before the game and he was forced into three enforced changes as he made a total of five alterations to the starting XI from the team that drew 0-0- at Huddersfield Town.

Goalkeeper Bachmann was ruled out after suffering a concussion in training, Francisco Sierralta had a quad strain and Jeremy Ngakia was unwell, while Giorgi Chakvetadze and Vakoun Bayo dropped to the bench.

In came Hamer between the posts, Ryan Andrews and Porteous in defence, Kone returned in midfield while Rajovic led the attack.

Rotherham came into the game fresh from securing a morale-boosting 2-2 draw against high-flying Ipswich Town in midweek, but boss Matt Taylor made four changes from the side that started on Tuesday night.

In came Jordan Hugill, Lee Peltier, Sean Morrison and Sebastian Revan with Daniel Ayala, Hakeem Odoffin, Fred Onyedinma and Cafu dropping to the bench.

The Hornets started a little slowly but their first sight of goal came in the ninth minute when Kone played in a decent cross from the left that was just too far ahead of Rajovic on the edge of the six-yard box.

But the Danish striker was to make no mistake with his next opportunity two minutes later.

Kone was again involved, this time feeding the ball out to the left where Sema advanced before playing a good cross into the six-yard box where Rajovic was free to divert it past Viktor Johansson to give the Hornets an important early lead.

That settled the hosts down and they were content to play keep ball, while looking for opportunities to stretch their opponents when possible.

That happened in the 24th minute when Kone, having initially lost the ball, did very well to first recover it in his own half before accelerating clear and releasing Sema who advanced into the area to have a second bite at a shot which forced Johansson into a blocking save.

Watford’s next opportunity came initially on the counter, but after slowing down the move the ball was worked back inside to Hoedt who took advantage of the space in front of him to advance before hitting a crisp left-footed shot from 25 yards which Johansson held.

The visitors were forced into an early change in the 33rd minute when they lost Sam Clucas to injury and he was replaced in midfield by Cafu.

The substitute’s first involvement was nearly a very effective one, striking a free-kick from 30 yards that Hamer took no chances with and leapt to punch away.

Watford remained the dominant side but one of the frustrating features of their performance in the first half was passing up the opportunity to deliver a cross after getting into a good position to do so.

Christ Tiehi curled a shot harmlessly wide from 25 yards in the last minute of normal time before Cafu was booked for a foul on Andrews – and so was Millers manager Taylor for his subsequent protests.

The fourth official signalled five additional minutes at the end of the opening period – and in the fourth of those the Hornets got the all-important second goal.

A Hoedt pass down the left found Sema, who battled his way away from Dexter Lembikisa to get clear in the area before squaring for Rajovic to finish with aplomb into the roof of the net for his sixth goal of the season.

The Millers needed a good start to the second half to try and get back into the game and they had the first sight of goal after the restart when Hugill ran a good 40 yards from inside his own half, only to drag a right-footed shot well wide of Hamer’s right-hand post.

Taylor made a double change in the 52nd minute, bringing on Ayala and Onyedinma for Sean Morrison and Sebastian Ravan. Two minutes later the visitors had conceded a third as a Hornets midfielder was celebrating his first goal for the club.

Porteous was heavily involved, latching on to a break down in play in midfield before surging forward into the area and laying the ball inside to Kayembe, who turned away from goal on his left foot before lashing a shot past Johansson and into the far corner to make it 3-0.

Asprilla picked up Watford’s first booking just after the hour before Ismael decided to introduce fresh legs with a triple change after 67 minutes, with Martins, Chakvetadze and Ince replacing Asprilla, Jamal Lewis and Livermore respectively. That meant Sema dropped to left-back, with Martins in front of him, while Kayembe took up the more defensive midfield role.

Rotherham also made their fourth and fifth substitutions soon after, with Odoffin and Georgie Kelly coming on for Hugill and Peltier.

The visitors were finally able to enjoy a period of possession in and around the Hornets penalty area, without really threatening, before their opponents had another sight of an opportunity when Martins chanced his arm from 25 yards but fired over.

Hamer, who had been able to enjoy a relatively trouble-free second appearance of the season between the posts, had to stretch to tip away a Cafu cross. But the substitute then sustained an injury and limped out of the contest, meaning the visitors were forced to see out the remainder of the game with ten men.

Rhys Healey came on with Rajovic for the last six minutes of normal time and he arrived on the pitch in time to be able to join in the celebrations for the fourth goal.

Watford broke on the counter with Chakvetadze feeding Andrews on the right and the youngster opted for an early ball inside which a defender missed, allowing Ince to take a touch on the edge of the area before comfortably dispatching his finish past Johansson.

Ismael completed his changes with Tom Dele-Bashiru replacing Kone for the closing stages and the hosts weren’t far away from a fifth goal when Kayembe tried an improvised flick to a low cross from the left that drifted just wide.

Seven minutes of additional time boosted hopes of another Hornets goal and Dele-Bashiru was the next to try his luck, hitting a powerful shot which Johansson could only parry before the ball was scrambled to safety.

But there was to be a fifth goal when Ince tried to set up Healey for his first Watford goal. The substitute was unable to get a shot away but steadied himself and kept control of the ball before laying it off to Martins to fire a first-time effort beyond Johansson to make it 5-0 and set the seal on an efficient job well done.

Watford: Hamer; Andrews, Porteous, Hoedt, Lewis (Ince 67); Kayembe, Livermore (Chakvetadze 67), Kone (Dele-Bashiru 88); Asprilla (Martins 67), Rajovic (Healey 84), Sema. Subs not used: Roberts, Louza, Pollock, Bayo.

Rotherham United: Johansson; Lembikisa, Peltier (Kelly 69), Morrison (Ayala 52), Bramall; Tiehi, Clucas (Cafu 33); Rathbone, Hugill (Odoffin 69), Revan (Onyedinma 52); Nombe. Subs not used: Phillips, Eaves, Lindsay, Appiah.

Bookings: Cafu (45); Taylor (manager (45)); Asprilla (61).

Referee: Stephen Martin.