Troy Deeney the Watford hero as Aston Villa lose again
Troy Deeney piled on the misery for his boyhood club Aston Villa with the decisive goal in Watford's 3-2 win at Villa Park.
Despite being a lifelong Villa fan, 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 Barclays 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.
TWEET OF THE MATCH:
''Micah Richards does his best Dynamo impression...can #AVFC levitate up the league?'' - Even some magic from Micah Richards cannot help Villa.
Brad Guzan: 8 (Out of 10)
Kieran Richardson: 6
Ciaran Clark: 6
Micah Richards: 7
Alan Hutton: 6
Idrissa Gana: 6
Jordan Veretout: 6
Carlos Sanchez: 6
Carles Gil: 6
Jordan Ayew: 6
Scott Sinclair: 6
Adama Traore 5
Rudy Gestede 6
Heurelho Gomes: 7
Allan Nyom: 7
Craig Cathcart: 6
Miguel Britos: 6
Nathan Ake: 7
Etienne Capoue: 6
Ben Watson: 6
Juan Carlos Paredes: 6
Troy Deeney: 6
Almen Abdi: 6
Odion Jude Ighalo: 7
Ikechi Anya 6
Giedrius Arlauskis 4
Adlene Guedioura 5
Troy Deeney: Perhaps inspired by playing against his boyhood team and the club where his career began, he was involved in most of the good things that Watford did. The striker scored for the fourth time in five games and celebrated brashly in front of the Holte End.
MOMENT OF THE MATCH:
Richards running back to the centre circle celebrating his goal: You could tell it meant a lot to the Villa captain as he jumped up and down with his team mates in tow, at the same time urging the home fans to get behind the team. It was a good header too.
VIEW FROM THE DUGOUT:
The last two games will have certainly illustrated the size of the task facing Garde. Some of Villa's defending leaves a lot to be desired, while they lack punch in attack. For Quique Sanchez Flores it is another away win and Watford continue to adapt nicely to life back in the top flight.
MOAN OF THE MATCH:
Quite a lot of Villa fans got up and left following Deeney's goal, turning their back on their team and missing Ayew's fine goal. Some did return for the 10 minutes of injury-time after hearing the cheers.
WHO'S UP NEXT?
Southampton v Aston Villa December 5 (Premier League)
Watford v Norwich December 5 (Premier League)