Gianfranco Zola was delighted with Watford's first-half performance as they scored the two goals that gave them a 2-0 victory over Nottingham Forest and helped them back into the top six of the npower Championship.
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The Hornets were in control by half-time courtesy of two composed finishes from Matej Vydra, both set up by excellent passes by Almen Abdi.
Forest's task was made even harder when Ayala, who was booked earlier, picked up his second yellow in the 38th minute.
Zola said: "The first half was excellent. Some of the things that we saw were really good.
"I cannot say the same for the first 20 minutes of the second half, in which we took the foot from the pedal completely and we allowed them to come back into the game a little bit more.
"That wasn't necessary but I can understand. The team felt like the game was gone so that is something we need to address. But at the end of the day it's good. It's three points to go into Christmas."
Asked what pleased him most about the win, Zola replied: "I think it was a tricky game because Nottingham Forest is a good team and so you didn't know what was around the corner for us.
"Also, we're coming from two games in which we didn't play our best football; against Hull City and Burnley we didn't play to our normal standards.
"It was 50-50 but fortunately the way we started and, above all, the form of the two strikers made a big difference today."
Forest boss Sean O'Driscoll admitted he was trying to bring on Greg Halford for Ayala before he was sent off but "couldn't get him on quick enough".
He said: "I don't know what it was before half-time, not long, but suck it and see. That would have been preferable rather than getting him geared up but you think when you're on a yellow card and the referee's warned you that one more misdemeanour and you're off, you would be a little bit more cautious but Daniel's 20 years of age.
"We've all been young once and made mistakes and unfortunately he's made his."
The visitors had an early chance to take the lead when Andy Reid swung in a dangerous free-kick but Danny Collins glanced his header just wide.
O'Drsiscoll said: "I thought we were a threat. I thought we had the best chance. Danny Collins' header should really have scored, a free header inside the six-yard box.
"But they're a fluid team, they cause you problems, they're prepared to take a risk at the back which we felt we could exploit and to a large extent we probably did but credit to Gianfranco.
"I think he's a bit like Gus Poyet at Brighton. They've gone 'we're not going to suddenly abandon this, we'll try and work our way around it if teams try and press'. But I thought we were always a threat.
"But the first goal in the Championship is always crucial. They got it, we've been down before but we felt we were still well in the contest.
"But the sending off and probably more crucially, conceding a goal before half-time, once it's 2-0 and your down to 10 men makes it extremely difficult because if you gamble it could be three or four."