Match Report: Gianfranco Zola rejects loan criticism as Watford stroll on

Ipswich Town 0 Watford 2

Portman Road

It is a truth universally acknowledged that the Championship is a difficult league in which anyone can beat anyone else. Nevertheless, when that league's most prolific attack comes visiting a defence which has more than played its part in producing its worst goal difference, the omens appear easy enough to read.

Such prejudice may take no account of home pride – or the improvement in Ipswich Town's previously calamitous defending since Mick McCarthy got to work on them in November – but expectations were nevertheless fulfilled as Gianfranco Zola's Watford triumphed over a side who never matched their pace or quality.

McCarthy was man enough to admit: "We were beaten by a very, very good side – as good as I've seen this season in this league. I have no complaints; they deserved to win."

Goals in each half, from Ikechi Anya and Nathaniel Chalobah, two of Watford's loanees, settled the affair in favour of the promotion-chasers. But McCarthy was not rising to offers to join in criticism of their use of the international loan market. "I don't give a sh*** what they do," he said. "If it's within the rules, let them get on with it."

Zola, after expressing himself "delighted" with a victory gained despite, in his view, a dip in his team's performance, also defended the policy that has brought in 12 loan players, seven from Udinese and all but Chalobah, Chelsea's Sierra Leonean, from foreign clubs.

"The criticism is very unfair," he said. "We didn't break any rules; we're winning games playing very well and very fair. Football is on the pitch; we play very well on the pitch." They certainly did well at Ipswich, where the elegance of their passing game got the better of the home side's more ponderous and muscular approach. "The difference was when we had the opportunities, we scored, when they had the opportunities, they didn't," Zola said.

That perhaps understated the quality of their approach play, but the finishing – Anya's curling shot in the 18th minute, Chalobah's conversion of Almen Abdi's neat through ball in the 72nd – was certainly cool, calm and collected.

Ipswich Town (4-4-2): Henderson; Stearman, Chambers, Smith, Cresswell; Edwards, Hyam, N'Daw, Martin (McLean, 54); McGoldrick (Nouble, 64), Chopra. Substitutes not used Loach, Hewitt, Kisnorbo, Drury, Murphy.

Watford (3-5-2): Almunia; Doyley, Nosworthy, Ekstrand; Cassetti, Adbi, Chalobah, Hogg, Anya (Forsyth, 78); Deeney (Yeates, 85), Forestieri (Geijo, 73). Substitutes not used Bond, Yeates, Murray, Vydra, Battocchio

Referee R East (Wiltshire).

Arts and Entertainment
Attenborough with the primates
tvWhy BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
News
people
News
Campbell: ‘Sometimes you have to be economical with the truth’
newsFormer spin doctor says MPs should study tactics of leading sports figures like José Mourinho
Sport
football
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Alexander McQueen's AW 2009/10 collection during Paris Fashion Week
fashionMeet the collaborators who helped create the late designer’s notorious spectacles
News
i100
News
Perry says: 'Psychiatrists give help because they need help. You would not be working in mental health if you didn't have a curiosity about how the mind works.'
people
Life and Style
Stepping back in time: The Robshaws endured the privations of the 1950s
food + drinkNew BBC series savours half a century of food in Britain
News
Google celebrates St David's Day 2015
newsWales' patron saint is believed to have lived in the 6th century
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003
Barbara Woodward: Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with the growing economic superpower

Our woman in Beijing builds a new relationship

Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with growing economic power
Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer. But the only British soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross in Afghanistan has both

Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer

Beware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
Alexander McQueen: The catwalk was a stage for the designer's astonishing and troubling vision

Alexander McQueen's astonishing vision

Ahead of a major retrospective, Alexander Fury talks to the collaborators who helped create the late designer's notorious spectacle
New BBC series savours half a century of food in Britain, from Vesta curries to nouvelle cuisine

Dinner through the decades

A new BBC series challenged Brandon Robshaw and his family to eat their way from the 1950s to the 1990s
Philippa Perry interview: The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course

Philippa Perry interview

The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef recreates the exoticism of the Indonesian stir-fry

Bill Granger's Indonesian stir-fry recipes

Our chef was inspired by the south-east Asian cuisine he encountered as a teenager
Chelsea vs Tottenham: Harry Kane was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope

Harry Kane interview

The striker was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope
The Last Word: For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?

Michael Calvin's Last Word

For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?
HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?