BOURNEMOUTH, England (Reuters) – Watford boosted their hopes of automatic promotion to the Premier League with a 4-1 win at struggling Rotherham United in the English Championship (second-tier) on Tuesday while Swansea City suffered a setback in a 3-0 defeat at Bournemouth.
Watford stayed second on 72 points from 37 games, seven behind leaders Norwich City who have a game in hand, while third-placed Swansea have 69 from 36 matches.
Brentford in fourth missed a chance to close on the top two as they squandered a two-goal lead in a 2-2 draw at Derby County, the result leaving them on 67 points from 36 games.
Francisco Sierralta, Ismaila Sarr and Ken Sema fired Watford into a 3-0 first-half lead before Freddie Ladapo pulled one back shortly after Michael Smith missed a penalty for the home side.
Dan Gosling sealed Watford’s eighth win in their last nine matches and the result left Rotherham third-bottom on 32 points from 33 games after they were forced to postpone their previous three fixtures due to a novel coronavirus outbreak at the club.
Seventh-placed Bournemouth, who have 59 points from 37 matches, stayed in contention for a playoff spot after Philip Billing and Arnaut Danjuma struck either side of a Joel Latibeaudiere own goal.
The win left Bournemouth two points off fifth-placed Reading and sixth-placed Barnsley, who occupy the final two playoff spots and have both played a game less than the Cherries.
Brentford were in the driving seat at Derby after an Ivan Toney penalty and Sergi Canos goal gave them a 2-0 lead inside the opening 23 minutes but the hosts hit back through Lee Gregory and Louie Sibley in the second half.
Luton Town enjoyed a 2-0 home win against 10-man Coventry City, who had Kyle McFadzean sent off after 41 minutes, while Middlesbrough won by the same score against visiting Preston North End, who had Alan Browne dismissed in the 36th.
Cardiff City did themselves no favours in the hunt for a top-six spot as they were held to a 0-0 home draw by Stoke City that left them in ninth place on 55 points from 37 games.
(Writing by Zoran Milosavljevic; Editing by Ken Ferris)