Odion Ighalo and Troy Deeney scored either side of Alan Hutton’s own goal as Watford heaped more misery on bottom-of-the-table Aston Villa with a 3-2 victory at Villa Park.
Deeney piled on the misery for his boyhood club Aston Villa with what was to prove the decisive goal.
Deeney, who began his career at the Midlands club before leaving aged 15, clearly enjoyed his 85th-minute header, sliding on his knees in celebration at the Holte End.
A fourth goal in his last five games looked like giving Watford a comfortable victory, but Jordan Ayew got Villa back within a goal in the 89th minute. Remi Garde’s team were then unable to find an equaliser in the 10 minutes of injury time allowed for a second-half injury to Heurelho Gomes.
Odion Jude Ighalo gave Watford the lead but Micah Richards levelled just before half-time, before a Alan Hutton own goal gave the visitors the advantage once more, setting up the dramatic closing stages.
The defeat means Villa remain without a win in the Premier League since the opening day of the season and they stay bottom of the table.
Garde’s side started brightly and Ayew’s shot from the right side of the area was blocked by Gomes following a positive driving run and through ball from Richards.
A sustained spell of pressure followed from the home team but it was Watford who went ahead after 17 minutes as Ighalo pounced and slotted past Brad Guzan after Ben Watson’s shot rebounded off Ciaran Clark and the ball dropped nicely into his path.
Villa should have been level quickly but Ayew dragged his shot wide from six yards out.
Guzan then rushed out to spread himself to deny Etienne Capoue after he was put through by a brilliantly-weighted Deeney pass.
The home crowd began to get on their team’s back as Villa, whose effort was obvious, were simply frustrated by their lack of cutting edge in the final third.
The response to falling behind was good though and Idrissa Gana had Gomes scrambling across his goal with a curling effort from 25 yards that was inches away from nestling in the bottom corner of the net.
Either side of the half-hour mark the Watford goalkeeper then had to beat away a stinging drive from Ayew and help Scott Sinclair’s shot over the crossbar.
Villa deservedly equalised four minutes before half-time when Richards got a run on Craig Cathcart to emphatically head home Jordan Veretout’s free-kick.
The hosts survived a couple of scares inside their own penalty area early in the second half before the game was stopped for almost 10 minutes following an injury to Gomes, who collided with Cathcart when trying to cut out a low Hutton cross.
The Brazilian received treatment for a lengthy spell before being fitted with a neck brace and carried from the pitch on a stretcher. Giedrius Arlauskis, who played for Lithuania against England in last month’s European Championship qualifier, came on for his Premier League debut.
When the game restarted, Watford caught Villa cold and immediately went back in front. Deeney tried to find Ighalo but Hutton got a boot to the ball and diverted it past Guzan.
Deeney’s header looped past Guzan to stretch the lead to 3-1 before Ayew controlled neatly, turned and curled a lovely shot into the bottom corner of the net in the 89th minute.
But it was too little, too late and Watford comfortably negotiated injury time to earn their first win at Villa Park in nine visits since their last success at the ground in 1969.