Reading fell to their third defeat in four games ahead of the World Cup break, losing 2-0 to Watford at Vicarage Road.

Brazilian Joao Pedro netted either side of half-time to continue the Royals' poor form in the build-up to the three-week break.

Paul Ince rotated after three matches in six days, with five changes to the starting side from the one that lost to Preston on Friday- including the return of Sam Hutchinson after a month-long injury lay-off.

Facing a front three as dangerous as Ismaila Sarr, Kienan Davies, and Pedro, it was expected that the Royals would be soon on the back foot. Holding their own in the early stages, it was still the hosts making the chances to open the scoring. Ken Sema had the first effort of the game, firing a free kick over the bar from the edge of the box. Reading did have spells early on, with Andy Yiadom sending a cross toward the box, only for the ball to evade Jeff Hendrick.

Despite settling well, it took just 15 minutes for the Hornets to take the lead when Ovie Ejaira dragged his man down in the box from a corner, leaving referee James Linnington no choice. Pedro stepped up and coolly slotted past Joe Lumley. It could have been worse had it not been for Lumley, with Davies found unmarked in the box from a Sarr cross, Lumley coming out to force it away. Injured in the clash, the on-loan stopper would be replaced by the half hour mark, Dean Bouzanis getting his first taste of Championship action on the road. Ejaria looked to make up for his penalty, sending a wicked delivery all the way across the face of goal, with Tom Ince unable to sort his feet out as it dropped to him at the far post before it was cleared away. On the stroke of half-time, Hendrick had a chance as he was picked out unmarked from a deep free-kick, only to fire his effort wide of the near-post.

Seemingly coming out at half-time in another gear, it was Reading who managed to pin the hosts back for the early exchanges of the second period. Tom Ince and Lucas Joao linked up well around the edge of the box and forced an early corner. It came to nothing, and it seemed to mark a change in fortunes, with the Hornets regaining control. Pedro should have grabbed himself a brace shortly after the hour mark, turning and firing a shot on goal from the edge of the box, forcing Bouzanis to tip it behind for a corner. Davies, who was a handful all night, was the next to hold his head in his hands as he somehow missed a header at the back post which seemed easier to score.

The closest the Royals came in the final half hour was a clever free-kick routine which saw an unmarked Ince curl a shot over the bar from the edge of the box. Sarr came close in the final 10 minutes, getting on the end of a lofted pass down the middle and attempting to clip a shot over Bouzanis, only for Amadou Mbengue to clear off the line.

After all the chances, the second goal came just minutes from the 90-minute mark through Pedro. The Brazilian was on hand to fire home a rebound after Bouzanis had punched a strike toward the edge of the box.