Matej Vydra scored twice in two minutes to keep Watford in the Championship play-off places with a win at Brighton.
Gianfranco Zola's side had chances in the first half before Troy Deeney broke the deadlock after the break.
David Lopez equalised from the penalty spot after Kazenga LuaLua was pushed over, but Czech striker Vydra restored Watford's lead with a deflected shot within three minutes.
Vydra raced clear for his second goal a minute later to seal victory.
The two managers, former team-mates at Chelsea, embraced warmly just before kick-off but it was Gianfranco Zola who was the happier of the two by the final whistle, while Gus Poyet was left to reflect on a run of four games without a win.
Both sides spurned chances to open the scoring early on, with Daniel Pudil putting a free header a long way wide for Watford, while Andrea Orlandi shot over the bar after finding space for Brighton on the edge of the area at the opposite end.
Manuel Almunia was equal to a long-range effort from LuaLua with a comfortable save, and Pudil denied Lopez inside the box with a well-timed block to a Craig Mackail-Smith cross.
On the road
Watford's win was their sixth away from home this season, as many as they managed in the entire 2011/12 campaign
The away side were the stronger towards the end of the first half, Tomasz Kuszczak making a fingertip save to deny Vydra, while Deeney failed to hit the target with a header from six yards out.
But Deeney made amends nine minutes into the second half, latching on to a Pudil pass while the defence watched Vydra, before shooting powerfully underneath Kuszczak from an angle inside the area.
The hosts levelled from the penalty spot 10 minutes later, with Almunia spilling the ball on the edge of the area before Tommie Hoban fouled LuaLua as he tried to collect the rebound. David Lopez gave the Watford goalkeeper no chance from 12 yards, but Brighton's lead was to last just three minutes.
The home defence backed off as Vydra advanced, and his shot from 25 yards out had enough power to loop up over Kuszczak into the net after taking a deflection off Adam El Abd's knee.
Vydra doubled the lead just 74 seconds later with his 12th goal of the campaign, racing clear of the Brighton back four to go one-on-one with the keeper before shooting low into the net.
Almunia's save from Will Hoskins was the closest Brighton came to pulling a goal back, but Watford had few other problems in claiming their sixth away win of the season.
Brighton manager Gus Poyet: We were a bit too open, we exchanged attack for attack and chance for chance, and we tried to address that at half-time to try to win the game.
But it was totally opposite, there were three mistake to give them the chance for the first goal. After that, Watford were the better team, we were always chasing, always in a hurry.
They were good on the counter-attack, and they deserved it.
Watford manager Gianfranco Zola: We had a few problems at the beginning, in the first 15 minutes they really caused us a lot of problems, because they are a good team.
Then we found our rhythm, we found our passing and in the end it was a deserved victory.
In the Championship, we you need to get the right to play your own football, you also have to work hard when the opposition has the ball and today my team was excellent in that.
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Live Text Commentary
Full Time The game is over, as the referee blows his whistle.90:00 +4:02
Will Hoskins produces a cross, Joel Ekstrand manages to make a clearance.90:00 +3:45
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Craig Mackail-Smith by Piccoli Neuton. Direct free kick taken by Craig Mackail-Smith.90:00 +2:44
Piccoli Neuton gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Will Hoskins. Will Hoskins restarts play with the free kick.89:30
Free kick crossed right-footed by Stephen Dobbie.89:30 Booking
Booking Booking for Geoffrey Mujangi Bia for unsporting behaviour.89:28
Foul by Geoffrey Mujangi Bia on Kazenga LuaLua, free kick awarded.86:49
Bruno Saltor delivers the ball.86:20
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Kazenga LuaLua by Geoffrey Mujangi Bia. Free kick taken by Liam Bridcutt.85:32
Stephen Dobbie produces a cross.85:10
Will Hoskins takes a shot. Save made by Manuel Almunia.83:00
Geoffrey Mujangi Bia takes a shot. Adam El-Abd gets a block in.81:49
A cross is delivered by Bruno Saltor.79:10 Substitution
Substitution Almen Abdi goes off and Cristian Battocchio comes on.75:56
Kazenga LuaLua delivers the ball, clearance by Piccoli Neuton.75:16
Jonathan Hogg gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Wayne Bridge. Wayne Bridge takes the direct free kick.74:21 Substitution
Substitution Will Hoskins comes on in place of Andrew Crofts.74:21 Substitution
Substitution Stephen Dobbie joins the action as a substitute, replacing Moreno David Lopez.72:45 Substitution
Substitution Geoffrey Mujangi Bia replaces Ikechi Anya.72:35
Kazenga LuaLua sends in a cross.
Ashley Barnes gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Nathaniel Chalobah. Ikechi Anya restarts play with the free kick.70:31
Kazenga LuaLua sends in a cross, Ikechi Anya manages to make a clearance.68:55
Troy Deeney provided the assist for the goal.68:55 Goal scored
Goal! - Matej Vydra - Brighton 1 - 3 Watford Matej Vydra fires in a goal from inside the penalty box to the bottom left corner of the goal. Brighton 1-3 Watford.67:10
The assist for the goal came from Jonathan Hogg.67:10 Goal scored
Goal! - Matej Vydra - Brighton 1 - 2 Watford Matej Vydra fires in a goal from outside the penalty box to the top left corner of the goal. Brighton 1-2 Watford.66:34
Bruno Saltor takes a shot. Manuel Almunia makes a save.65:42
A cross is delivered by Daniel Pudil.65:30
The ball is crossed by Bruno Saltor, clearance by Tommie Hoban.64:28 Goal scored
Goal! - Moreno David Lopez - Brighton 1 - 1 Watford Moreno David Lopez scores a placed penalty. Brighton 1-1 Watford.63:34
The assist for the goal came from Kazenga LuaLua.63:29
Foul by Tommie Hoban on Kazenga LuaLua, Penalty awarded.62:24
The ball is delivered by Troy Deeney.61:00
Corner taken by Moreno David Lopez from the right by-line.60:45
Moreno David Lopez crosses the ball, clearance by Joel Ekstrand.58:42 Substitution
Substitution Ashley Barnes comes on in place of Andrea Orlandi.57:42
Foul by Craig Mackail-Smith on Daniel Pudil, free kick awarded. Direct free kick taken by Manuel Almunia.56:15
Shot by Nathaniel Chalobah went wide of the right-hand upright.56:01
Craig Mackail-Smith challenges Manuel Almunia unfairly and gives away a free kick. Manuel Almunia takes the direct free kick.55:27
Bruno Saltor sends in a cross, Adam El-Abd takes a shot. Manuel Almunia makes a save.54:50
Inswinging corner taken from the right by-line by Andrea Orlandi.53:08
Daniel Pudil provided the assist for the goal.53:08 Goal scored
Goal! - Troy Deeney - Brighton 0 - 1 Watford A goal is scored by Troy Deeney from inside the area low into the middle of the goal. Brighton 0-1 Watford.52:47
Free kick awarded for a foul by Wayne Bridge on Ikechi Anya. Manuel Almunia takes the free kick.50:14
Inswinging corner taken by Moreno David Lopez from the left by-line played to the near post, clearance by Tommie Hoban.48:00
Unfair challenge on Ikechi Anya by Kazenga LuaLua results in a free kick. Free kick taken by Manuel Almunia.45:01
The game restarts for the second half.45:00 +2:17 Half time
Half Time The ref blows to end the first period.45:00 +1:27
The ball is swung over by Almen Abdi, Headed effort from inside the area by Troy Deeney misses to the left of the goal.45:00 +0:58
Corner taken right-footed by Almen Abdi, clearance made by Wayne Bridge.45:00 +0:38
Matej Vydra takes a shot. Save made by Tomasz Kuszczak.45:00 +0:21
Bruno Saltor crosses the ball, save by Manuel Almunia.45:00 +0:08
The ball is delivered by Kazenga LuaLua.44:22
Effort on goal by Kazenga LuaLua from outside the area goes harmlessly over the bar.43:39
A cross is delivered by Craig Mackail-Smith, Piccoli Neuton manages to make a clearance. Outswinging corner taken right-footed by Moreno David Lopez from the right by-line.41:31 Substitution
Substitution Piccoli Neuton is brought on as a substitute for Fitz Hall.39:22
Craig Mackail-Smith takes a shot. Save by Manuel Almunia.38:49
Shot from outside the box by Matej Vydra misses to the left of the target.38:27
The ball is delivered by Ikechi Anya.36:54
Andrea Orlandi challenges Nathaniel Chalobah unfairly and gives away a free kick. Strike comes in from Almen Abdi from the free kick, save by Tomasz Kuszczak.35:22
The ball is delivered by Almen Abdi, Tomasz Kuszczak makes a save.35:05
Corner from left by-line taken by Almen Abdi.34:34
Corner taken by Almen Abdi from the right by-line.34:09
Corner taken by Almen Abdi from the left by-line to the near post, clearance by Craig Mackail-Smith.33:50
The ball is crossed by Ikechi Anya, clearance made by Gordon Greer.30:28
Andrea Orlandi takes a short corner. Moreno David Lopez delivers the ball, Tommie Hoban makes a clearance.30:16
Craig Mackail-Smith delivers the ball, clearance made by Tommie Hoban.28:56
The ball is crossed by Bruno Saltor, Fitz Hall manages to make a clearance.28:05
Free kick taken by Wayne Bridge.28:05 Booking
Booking Almen Abdi receives a yellow card for unsporting behaviour.27:51
Unfair challenge on Kazenga LuaLua by Almen Abdi results in a free kick.27:28
The ball is delivered by Andrea Orlandi, clearance made by Fitz Hall.26:44
The ball is delivered by Ikechi Anya, Troy Deeney takes a shot. Save by Tomasz Kuszczak.24:22
Jonathan Hogg takes a shot. Save by Tomasz Kuszczak.21:54
Almen Abdi has an effort direct from the free kick.21:54 Booking
Booking The referee shows Adam El-Abd a yellow card for unsporting behaviour.21:42
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Matej Vydra by Adam El-Abd.18:40
Kazenga LuaLua fouled by Ikechi Anya, the ref awards a free kick. Andrea Orlandi has a direct shot on goal from the free kick.18:22
Kazenga LuaLua takes a shot. Save by Manuel Almunia.17:19
Kazenga LuaLua delivers the ball, clearance by Fitz Hall.13:41
Wayne Bridge crosses the ball, blocked by Tommie Hoban.13:22
A cross is delivered by Bruno Saltor, Ikechi Anya makes a clearance.12:00
The ball is delivered by Wayne Bridge.10:53
Moreno David Lopez produces a cross, Manuel Almunia makes a save.9:39
Andrew Crofts takes a shot from just inside the penalty box which clears the crossbar.8:50
The assistant referee flags for offside against Moreno David Lopez. Manuel Almunia takes the indirect free kick.7:45
Short corner worked by Moreno David Lopez.6:23
Almen Abdi takes the outswinging corner, Daniel Pudil has a headed effort at goal from deep inside the area missing to the right of the target.6:09
A cross is delivered by Almen Abdi, Adam El-Abd makes a clearance.5:35
Andrea Orlandi takes a shot. Save made by Manuel Almunia.4:42
The ball is crossed by Daniel Pudil, Wayne Bridge makes a clearance.1:45
The referee blows for offside against Craig Mackail-Smith. Free kick taken by Manuel Almunia.0:00
The referee gets the match started.
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