If anyone still doubted the character, togetherness, resilience and determination of Watford, those concerns have been superbly allayed as Javi Gracia’s side maintained their perfect start to the season with a famous 2-1 victory over Tottenham Hotspur.

In what was their first test of the season against one of the ‘big six’ sides, the Hornets had to dig in at times and do it the hard way after falling behind to a goal that was of their own making. But the response was tremendous as Troy Deeney and Craig Cathcart struck to make it four wins out of four to keep Watford joint top of the Premier League going into the first international break.

Despite being a clear second best in terms of possession and having to defend for lengthy periods, the Hornets had limited Spurs’ attacking effectiveness in the first half to a handful of half chances.

But the home side were to shoot themselves in the foot in the 54th minute when a mix up between Ben Foster and Christian Kabasele allowed Lucas Moura to cut the ball back and it rebounded into the net off Abdoulaye Doucuoure.

It took a while for Watford to respond to that setback but when they did the response was tremendous – and it owed much to the left boot of Jose Holebas.

First he swung over the free-kick from which Deeney rose to send a superb flicked header into the far corner to equalise, and then the former Greek international repeated the trick from a corner as Craig Cathcart scored what proved to be the winner.

From the moment they had got back on terms though, the Hornets’ belief and intensity had visibly swelled to a level where they looked the most likely team to go on and win it.

Javi Gracia chose to leave well alone in terms of selection for the fourth league game running, but there was a welcome return on the bench for Nathaniel Chalobah after successfully coming through his return in the Carabao Cup win at Reading.

Mauricio Pochettino made three changes to the side that won 3-0 at Manchester United, one of which was enforced as Michel Vorm replaced the injured Hugo Lloris in goal. Davinson Sanchez and Ben Davies also came into the team as the Spurs boss opted to go with three at the back, with Danny Rose and Eric Dier dropping to the bench.

Both sides started confidently as they sized each other up in the opening stages, with the visitors having the majority of the early possession.

Kabasele required some early treatment to a head injury after getting clattered in defending the first corner of the contest.

The first opportunity was to be created in the 12th minute when Toby Alderweireld, spotting the run of Dele Alli, played a long pass over the top of the defence and the England midfielder tried to catch Foster out with a looping header but put his effort on to the roof of the net.

The Hornets had to wait until the 18th minute to create their first opening but it was to stem from a considered build-up as the ball was played patiently from left to right before Daryl Janmaat swung over a cross and Deeney got up at the back post to head over.

The home side could have been in trouble when Alli slipped through a pass to put Moura through on goal, but a combination of Kabasele and Foster did enough to deal with the danger.

Some lax play from Etienne Capoue almost caused more problems but Kabasele was once again alive to threat otherwise Moura would have been clean in on goal.

There were more alarm bells ringing just short of the half-hour mark when Foster spilt a cross that bounced up in front of him, but he managed to scramble the ball clear to the edge of the area where Moura struck a first-time follow-up wide.

The Tottenham pressure continued and Christian Eriksen was the next to go close, whipping a low centre narrowly wide of Foster’s right-hand post after a corner from the right had been played to him 25 yards out.

Davies shot high and wide following another Spurs corner and then Sanchez, who had stayed up field for the next set piece, headed over after Jan Vertonghen had crossed from the left.

But having been on the back foot for much of the opening 45 minutes, Watford were to have the last chance of the half when Janmaat did well to win the ball in his own half before passing in field to Deeney, who had time to weigh up his options as he carried the ball forward. But his shot lacked conviction and was comfortably saved by Vorm.

Foster was called upon to make a save early in the second half to hold a low drive from Eriksen from 20 yards, with the same outcome soon after when the Dane was presented with another shooting opportunity following a mistake by Will Hughes.

Capoue picked up the first booking in the 52nd minute for an obvious pull on Vertonghen, but Watford had started the second period as they had been for the much of the first, organised and disciplined.

But those two words did not apply to the manner in which Spurs were able to take the lead – frankly, it was a horrible mess.

Foster called for the ball as Alli flicked it into the area, but Kabasele chose to head it without getting any distance. Moura was able to retrieve play on the right side of the area and his cut back hit Doucoure in the chest, with the ball rebounding inside the near post as Foster was unable to get across in time.

Watford’s first opportunity to try and get back on terms arrived just past the hour when Andre Gray hit a well-struck shot narrowly past the angle of post and bar after Hughes’ run to his right had opened up the opportunity.

But the Hornets were so nearly level in the 66th minute when Deeney showed great strength to barge Sanchez off the ball in the right, advance into the area and cross into the danger zone where the stretching Alderweireld could only glance a header off the face of his own crossbar.

But Watford didn’t have long to wait to get back on terms.

Two minutes later, Mousa Dembele was to be booked for a high arm on Hughes. Jose Holebas took the resulting free-kick and from his latest superbly flighted delivery, Deeney got up highest to flick a lovely header into the far corner past the helpless Vorm.

Isaac Success had already been preparing to come on and the change instantly followed the equaliser, with Gray making way.

But having got back on terms, Watford cranked up their intensity several more levels and Spurs were in trouble – and their problems were to mount even further in the 76th minute.

The Hornets won a corner which Holebas took from the left and once again the delivery was spot on as Cathcart got ahead of his man to plant a header inside Vorm’s near post to make it 2-1.

Pochettino made his first change with Fernando Llorente coming on for Alderweireld and the substitute was soon to get close to getting on the end of a ball in from the left.

Chalobah made his return to league action as an 85th-minute replacement for Hughes and at the same time Harry Winks came on for Dembele.

The Hornets had done a very good job on limiting Harry Kane’s attacking effectiveness but that should have changed with three minutes remaining when he was picked out on the edge of the six-yard box by Kieran Trippier’s cross from the right, only to head over the top.

Watford had five minutes of stoppage time to negotiate and there were nervous moments at the death when Eriksen whipped in a free-kick from the left which was deflected over for a corner. Spurs rushed to take it and it sat up invitingly say up for substitute Rose on the edge of the area, but he could only last wildly over.

With that half chance went Spurs’ hopes of salvaging anything from the game as Vicarage Road became the scene of some very special celebrations at full-time.

Watford: Foster; Janmaat, Cathcart, Kabasele, Holebas; Hughes (Chalobah 85), Doucoure, Capoue, Pereyra (Mariappa 89); Gray (Success 69), Deeney. Subs not used: Gomes, Masina, Sema, Femenia.

Tottenham Hotspur: Vorm; Alderweireld (Llorente 81), Sanchez, Vertonghen; Dembele (Winks 85); Trippier, Eriksen, Alli, Davies (Rose 89); Kane, Moura. Subs not used: Gazzaniga, Wanyama, Dier, Walker-Peters.

Bookings: Capoue for a foul on Vertonghen (52); Dembele for a foul on Hughes (68); Success for time wasting (90).

Referee: Andre Marriner.