WATFORD, United Kingdom (AFP) - Jon Walters scored one goal and made another as Stoke City won 2-1 at Watford on Saturday to fire their quest for a European finish in the Premier League.
The 32-year-old Irishman broke the deadlock with an 18th-minute tap-in and then teed up Joselu to add a second early in the second half, with captain Troy Deeney replying in the latter stages for Watford.
Mark Hughes's Stoke climb two places to seventh, a point below sixth-place Manchester United, who currently occupy what stands to be a Europa League qualifying berth at the end of the season.
Quique Sanchez Flores's Watford had eliminated holders Arsenal from the FA Cup last weekend, but they were brought back to earth by a result that left them in 14th place and without a league win in four games.
Ryan Shawcross' back injury saw Geoff Cameron step in at centre-back for Stoke, bringing Phil Bardsley into the team at right-back, and the former Manchester United full-back created his side's opener.
Bardsley whipped a low cross into the Watford box from the right and with Miguel Britos failing to cut it out, Walters was on hand at the back post to steer in his eighth goal of the season.
Aside from an Odion Ighalo shot that was easily held by Jack Butland, Watford had created nothing by that point and when a chance landed on the head of Deeney in the 27th minute, the home captain headed over.
At the other end, Marko Arnautovic was proving a steady menace and after scuffing wide, he saw an effort from another Bardsley cross chalked off for a marginal offside.
Stoke doubled their lead six minutes into the second half, with Walters this time the provider.
The Ireland international's superb volleyed pass from halfway released Joselu and the Spaniard coolly lobbed Watford goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes.
Joselu squandered a chance to kill the game off when he headed straight at Gomes shortly after and the Brazilian was also forced into a save when Ibrahim Afellay took aim from Arnautovic's pass.
Visiting goalkeeper Butland had been scarcely troubled, but with four minutes remaining he was beaten for the first time when Deeney headed home a left-wing cross from substitute Ikechi Anya.