A brace from Czech striker Matej Vydra helped Watford to a 2-1 win at promotions rivals Middlesbrough.
The international forward struck in first-half stoppage time, pouncing after a mistake by defender Rhys Williams.
Vydra added a second - his 14th of the season - late in the second-half, powerfully finishing after Troy Deeney's through-ball.
Boro forward Scott McDonald headed in a consolation in injury time.
The hosts, who had won their last four home games, had the better of the chances in the first half.
Emmanuel Ledesma tested Hornets keeper Manuel Almunia from distance, before Lukas Jutkiewicz saw his shot blocked by Joel Ekstrand.
George Friend blasted over the bar before McDonald again tested Almunia from outside the box.
But it was Vydra who opened the scoring for Watford with his side's first effort on goal, pouncing on a loose ball after Williams failed to chest a cross back to the keeper.
Vydra was a thorn in Boro's side after the break but found Jason Steele his equal - the Boro keeper twice thwarting him in one-on-ones.
The Czech finally got his reward in the 83rd minute when he raced onto Deeney's ball, and he nearly added a third moments later, shooting just wide.
McDonald headed in Adam's Reach's cross in the 93rd minute, but it was too late to stop the visitors recording their seventh away win of the season.
Middlesbrough manager Tony Mowbray:
"We beat ourselves really. We were well on top in the first half and our game plan was working but we just couldn't score the goal we needed and then found ourselves behind.
"We dominated the first 45 minutes in terms of possession and maybe 90% of the game was played in their half.
"But then they scored and that changed the game completely. We had to throw caution to the wind and commit men forward and empty the midfield and against Watford that is always a risk.
"They are the best team in this division in that situation and as we pushed forward they punished us."
Watford manager Gianfranco Zola:
"The first goal was a present from them. We probably didn't deserve to be leading at that point.
"They were the better side in the first half. They had a lot of chances but didn't take them.
"But in the second half we were excellent, as a team and as individuals. We stepped up a level and were much more positive. Everybody was much more tuned in."
Live Text Commentary
Full Time The referee blows for the end of the match.90:00 +3:16
Assist by Adam Reach.90:00 +3:16 Goal scored
Goal! - Scott McDonald - Middlesbro 1 - 2 Watford Scott McDonald finds the net with a headed goal from inside the six-yard box. Middlesbrough 1-2 Watford.90:00 +3:00
Adam Reach produces a cross,90:00 +1:15 Booking
Booking Scott McDonald booked.90:00 +0:30
Adam Reach challenges Marco Cassetti unfairly and gives away a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Manuel Almunia.89:24
Daniel Pudil takes a short corner.88:06
Free kick taken by John Eustace.88:06 Substitution
Substitution Mark Yeates joins the action as a substitute, replacing Matej Vydra.88:06
Unfair challenge on Almen Abdi by Grant Leadbitter results in a free kick.86:49
Joel Ekstrand fouled by Ishmael Miller, the ref awards a free kick. Manuel Almunia restarts play with the free kick.86:16
Effort from the edge of the box by Matej Vydra goes wide of the right-hand upright.85:35
Corner taken by Grant Leadbitter, save made by Manuel Almunia.82:43 Substitution
Substitution John Eustace is brought on as a substitute for Nathaniel Chalobah.82:43
The assist for the goal came from Almen Abdi.82:43 Goal scored
Goal! - Matej Vydra - Middlesbro 0 - 2 Watford Matej Vydra fires in a goal from just inside the penalty area to the bottom left corner of the goal. Middlesbrough 0-2 Watford.82:22
The ball is sent over by Grant Leadbitter, save by Manuel Almunia.81:39
Foul by Nyron Nosworthy on Scott McDonald, free kick awarded. Direct free kick taken by Merouane Zemmama.80:03
The referee blows for offside. Indirect free kick taken by Manuel Almunia.79:12
Nicky Bailey crosses the ball, save by Manuel Almunia.
Outswinging corner taken right-footed by Grant Leadbitter, Close range headed effort by Seb Hines misses to the right of the target.75:37
Faris Haroun is caught offside. Manuel Almunia takes the free kick.74:58
Matej Vydra takes a shot. Save by Jason Steele.73:26
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Cristian Battocchio by Grant Leadbitter. Nathaniel Chalobah takes the direct free kick.71:48
Shot from outside the penalty box by Faris Haroun goes wide right of the goal.70:19
Direct free kick taken by Manuel Almunia.70:19 Substitution
Substitution (Middlesbrough) makes a substitution, with Merouane Zemmama coming on for Emmanuel Ledesma.70:19
Marco Cassetti fouled by George Friend, the ref awards a free kick.68:55
Free kick awarded for a foul by Nathaniel Chalobah on George Friend. Faris Haroun takes the free kick.68:01 Substitution
Substitution Ishmael Miller joins the action as a substitute, replacing Lukas Jutkiewicz.66:33
Faris Haroun takes a shot. Save made by Manuel Almunia.65:42
The ball is swung over by Adam Reach, Joel Ekstrand gets a block in.64:11
Lukas Jutkiewicz concedes a free kick for a foul on Joel Ekstrand. Manuel Almunia takes the direct free kick.63:04
Rhys Williams gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Matej Vydra. Direct free kick taken by Almen Abdi.62:13
Emmanuel Ledesma has an effort at goal from just outside the box which goes wide of the right-hand upright.59:04
A cross is delivered by Daniel Pudil, Jason Steele makes a save.58:17
Effort from outside the penalty box by Adam Reach goes wide left of the target.56:04 Substitution
Substitution Adam Reach on for Josh McEachran.55:05
George Friend produces a cross, save by Manuel Almunia.53:29
Shot from outside the box by Emmanuel Ledesma misses to the left of the goal.52:28
Almen Abdi produces a left-footed shot from outside the penalty area and misses left.50:29
Lukas Jutkiewicz gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Joel Ekstrand. Manuel Almunia restarts play with the free kick.49:34
Scott McDonald takes a shot. Nathaniel Chalobah gets a block in. Corner taken by Grant Leadbitter from the left by-line, save made by Manuel Almunia.48:00
Matej Vydra takes a shot. Save by Jason Steele. Corner taken right-footed by Almen Abdi, Lukas Jutkiewicz manages to make a clearance.47:08
A cross is delivered by Emmanuel Ledesma, clearance made by Lloyd Doyley. Corner taken right-footed by Grant Leadbitter, save by Manuel Almunia.46:06
The ball is sent over by Faris Haroun.45:40
Daniel Pudil produces a left-footed shot from just outside the box that goes wide left of the goal.45:01
The referee gets the second half underway.45:00 +1:45 Half time
Half Time It is the end of the first-half.45:00 +0:22 Goal scored
Goal! - Matej Vydra - Middlesbro 0 - 1 Watford Matej Vydra grabs a goal from inside the area to the bottom right corner of the goal. Middlesbrough 0-1 Watford.44:45
Free kick awarded for a foul by Joel Ekstrand on Lukas Jutkiewicz. Free kick taken by Grant Leadbitter.44:23
A cross is delivered by Daniel Pudil, Rhys Williams manages to make a clearance.43:51
Troy Deeney fouled by Nicky Bailey, the ref awards a free kick. Free kick taken by Almen Abdi.41:51
Inswinging corner taken by Grant Leadbitter, save by Manuel Almunia.41:09
Emmanuel Ledesma takes a shot. Save by Manuel Almunia.37:57
Marco Cassetti challenges Scott McDonald unfairly and gives away a free kick. Grant Leadbitter restarts play with the free kick.34:07
Unfair challenge on Lloyd Doyley by Josh McEachran results in a free kick. Nathaniel Chalobah restarts play with the free kick.33:54
The ball is sent over by Daniel Pudil, Jason Steele makes a save.32:38
Foul by Nathaniel Chalobah on Faris Haroun, free kick awarded. Grant Leadbitter restarts play with the free kick.31:41
Free kick awarded for a foul by George Friend on Marco Cassetti. Nathaniel Chalobah restarts play with the free kick.31:02
Joel Ekstrand challenges Lukas Jutkiewicz unfairly and gives away a free kick. Emmanuel Ledesma takes the free kick.29:23
Scott McDonald takes a shot. Blocked by Lloyd Doyley. Emmanuel Ledesma takes the inswinging corner, Close range shot by Lukas Jutkiewicz goes wide of the right-hand upright.28:34
Free kick awarded for a foul by Seb Hines on Troy Deeney. Direct free kick taken by Nathaniel Chalobah.26:56
Marco Cassetti sends in a cross, Rhys Williams makes a clearance. Inswinging corner taken from the right by-line by Matej Vydra.25:21
Corner taken by Grant Leadbitter, Seb Hines produces a right-footed shot from close in that clears the bar.22:31
The ball is crossed by Lukas Jutkiewicz.16:10
Corner taken by Grant Leadbitter, save by Manuel Almunia.15:14
Lukas Jutkiewicz produces a left-footed shot from the edge of the area and misses to the left of the goal.11:34
Scott McDonald takes a shot. Save made by Manuel Almunia.9:05
Lukas Jutkiewicz takes a shot. Blocked by Joel Ekstrand. Corner taken by Grant Leadbitter from the left by-line, George Friend produces a right-footed shot from inside the six-yard box that clears the bar.7:12
George Friend crosses the ball, save by Manuel Almunia. Faris Haroun concedes a free kick for a foul on Almen Abdi. Free kick taken by Almen Abdi.5:27
The assistant referee signals for offside against Emmanuel Ledesma. Indirect free kick taken by Manuel Almunia.3:49
The ball is sent over by Emmanuel Ledesma, clearance made by Nyron Nosworthy.1:44
Foul by Faris Haroun on Matej Vydra, free kick awarded. Free kick taken by Nathaniel Chalobah. A cross is delivered by Daniel Pudil, save by Jason Steele.1:26
Emmanuel Ledesma takes a shot. Save by Manuel Almunia.0:00
The match begins.
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