Neil Warnock tipped Watford to join Norwich in the Premier League next season after watching his Middlesbrough side claim a point at the Riverside Stadium.
The Hornets, who led courtesy of Ismaila Sarr’s controversial 32nd-minute opener, remain second and well clear of Brentford and Swansea below them despite failing to chalk up a seventh win in a row.
Boro levelled with 12 minutes remaining when substitute Yannick Bolasie, on loan from Everton, nodded in his first goal in English football since October 2018.
Warnock, whose side have slipped out of the play-off picture of late, has celebrated promotion eight times during his career and feels Watford are well placed to finish off the job this season.
“I think these two will walk it,” he said.
“Two of the best in the league. I don’t see many of the other teams winning five or six games, so everyone else is fighting for the play-offs really.
“Watford are absolutely flying, six games on the trot before today. We had to play as if we were going away from home, structurally we were proper.
“It might have looked negative but they’d have passed through us. We tried to catch them on the break as much as we could.”
Warnock was happy with Boro’s point and their performance.
“Yannick was coming over to take the free-kick and I told him to get in the box and he scores. There were a lot of pluses today. We could easily have won the game in the end.”
Boro midfielder Sam Morsy was forced off after half an hour following a strong challenge from Nathaniel Chalobah, who was cautioned.
Warnock, who felt there was a handball by Philip Zinckernagel in the build-up to Watford’s goal, added: “The goal did us a bit. We thought handball.
“Sam’s injury, he is out for the season, he has done his medial ligament, we don’t know how bad but he is out for the season.
“In a VAR situation I think the Sam Morsy one might have been different – he has got two feet off the ground. They are the worst ones with studs.”
Watford boss Xisco Munoz challenged his players to keep going after watching Boro halt his side’s charge.
The Spaniard said: “From the first day we have been positive. Step by step we are working. The first step is to get the play-off positions, then the second aim is to get second place and the next aim is to get the top position.
“We have to keep going. I am sure we will have difficult moments, but what is most important is we keep going. Our team has good numbers, we need to play with the same ambition.
“Sometimes we have difficult moments. Today was a tough game. We didn’t have a lot of chances. They are a very good team, strong, power and speed, like us.
“We try always to win the games, but it is difficult to get points in the Championship.
“I don’t think about the others, we will see what happens after. Most important thing is we have found focus and power in our team. We have a very good challenge. We have great ambition.”