Watford have moved level on points with second-placed Brentford in the Championship thanks to a 2-1 victory at home to Derby.
Two goals in two minutes midway through the first half, first from Joao Pedro and then Will Hughes, set the Hornets up for their first-ever double over Derby.
Wayne Rooney’s visitors were aggrieved to see a reply controversially ruled out before the break but pulled a goal back late on when William Troost-Ekong found his own net.
The Rams remain in 17th place, six points above the drop zone.
Derby had beaten Wycombe 2-1 on Tuesday thanks to Andre Wisdom’s stoppage-time winner but Rooney declared himself unimpressed straight after and made five changes for this one.
Nathan Byrne, Lee Buchanan, Max Bird, George Edmundson and Patrick Roberts came in, with the latter duo making their first Rams starts.
The Hornets, who made a single change following their 1-0 win at Preston on the same night, constantly looked to the speedy Ismaila Sarr down the right as soon as they were able to break down Derby’s possession game.
And it was Sarr’s pace that led to Pedro’s 19th-minute opener, although fortune certainly favoured the hosts as the winger’s cross was met by Wisdom, who saw his attempted clearance hit the teenager’s trailing leg and cross the line.
Derby had only themselves to blame however for dozing off from a corner two minutes later. Nathaniel Chalobah flicked the ball back to Hughes on the right of the box and the former Rams player saw his drive creep in at the far post with help from a deflection off Nathan Byrne.
The Rams were controversially denied a goal from a corner in the 40th minute. Goalkeeper Daniel Bachmann, who had unconvincingly punched one over his own bar seconds earlier, was adjudged to have been impeded by Wisdom as Colin Kazim-Richards came charging in to head home.
Derby gave themselves hope in the 77th minute when Hornets defender Troost-Ekong diverted Byrne’s cross into his own net as substitute Lee Gregory moved in to pounce.
But Watford successfully negotiated five nervy minutes to claim all three points.