Watford claimed a historic first top-flight victory at Villa Park to move up to 19 Premier League points and push Aston Villa into even deeper trouble following a 3-2 victory.

Goals from Odion Ighalo and Troy Deeney, either side of an Alan Hutton own goal, gave the Hornets their third away victory of the season – and first win at Villa Park since 1969 - but it came at a cost as Heurelho Gomes was stretchered off in the second half after colliding with Craig Cathcart.

Watford had taken the lead in the 17th minute when Ighalo scored his eighth goal of the season after Villa had been unable to deal with a spell of attacking pressure in and around their penalty area.

Given the hosts’ fragile confidence, a second Hornets goal could have proved decisive and it took a superb save from Brad Guzan to prevent Etienne Capoue from netting it after a Deeney pass had sliced open up the defence.

Remi Garde’s side when not too clever in defence at times but they offered an attacking threat throughout the opening period and deservedly equalised shortly before the break when Micah Richards rose to head home a Jordan Veretout free-kick.

But the second half was to be bitter-sweet to an extent for the Hornets, who lost Gomes to a nasty-looking injury after he was accidentally caught in the face by Cathcart and was taken from the pitch on a stretcher after receiving several minutes of medical attention.

Within three minutes of that setback though, Watford were to take the lead for a second time as in trying to prevent Ighalo from latching onto another Deeney through ball, Hutton could only divert it past Guzan.

The Hornets looked to have the points safe when boyhood Birmingham City fan Deeney headed home his fourth in five appearances but Jordan Ayew then offered the hosts hope with more than ten minutes of injury time to be played. If anything though, the visitors should have increased their lead as Villa were left to contemplate having the joint lowest points total after 14 games in Premier League history.

Quique Sanchez Flores made two changes from the side that lost at the death against Manchester United – and there wasn’t a great deal of surprise about either.

Nathan Ake always looked a certainty to come back into the starting XI after his impressive substitute outing last Saturday and Juan Carlos Paredes also caught the eye off the bench against Louis van Gaal’s men and was rewarded with his first Premier League start. Ikechi Anya and Juan Manuel Jurado dropped to the bench.

Villa came into the game seeking to avoid a club record-equalling 13th successive league game without a victory and Garde also made two changes from the side that was humbled 4-0 at Everton seven days previously.

The manager had already confirmed Jack Grealish would not feature as punishment for his off-the-field behaviour following that loss while Ashley Westwood dropped to the bench. Their places were taken by Carlos Sanchez and Scott Sinclair.

Watford looked to press their opponents at every opportunity from the outset and they had the first opening inside three minutes when, after a Cathcart free-kick had been partially cleared, Ben Watson played the ball into Igahlo, who laid it back to Deeney on the edge of the area but he fired over.

The Hornets were the more settled of the two sides in the opening minutes but the hosts had a good opening in the tenth minute when Ayew ran in behind to latch onto a through ball from Richards but Gomes was down well at his near post to save.

Bouyed by that, Villa stayed on the front foot and won a corner which Carles Gil swung in dangerously from the right and the ball was allowed to bounce before Cathcart put it behind for another set piece. Gil’s delivery from the opposite side again posed questions but this time Gomes was able to punch clear and the Hornets backline stood firm during the subsequent phases of play.

That spell would have given the hosts some optimism but it was soon to be extinguished as Watford made the breakthrough in the 17th minute.

The move started when the visitors won possession back in midfield and surged forward in numbers with Almen Abdi leading the charge before the ball was worked to Ighalo, whose shot was blocked by Guzan’s body. Watford kept the move alive as Abdi and Ben Watson also had shots repelled before the ball broke nicely to Ighalo around eight yards out and he calmly prodded it past the Villa keeper to make it 1-0 with his eighth of the season.

Having taken the lead, the Hornets threatened to double it when Villa defended less than impressively as Capoue slid in Deeney down the right but his low delivery into the six-yard box was just about dealt with as Ighalo was poised to pounce.

But the game’s next opportunity saw the home side come within a whisker of pulling level. After a Gil corner from the right had been blocked at the near post, the midfielder was able to pull the ball back to Veretout and his whipped in ball into the box was stabbed narrowly wide of the far post by Ayew from six yards out.

Watford though, were increasingly looking capable of slicing through the Villa defence with ease at times and in the 24th minute Deeney won the ball back before slipping through Capoue, who had a great chance to net his first Hornets goal only to be thwarted at close quarters by a fine save by Guzan.

Villa may have been looking hesitant and nervy at the back but they were continuing to offer a threat going forward and Idrissa Gana wasn’t too far wide of the far post with a right-footed curler from around 22 yards.

Soon after, the same player had another strike from distance after coming in off the right and this time Gomes was forced to parry it back out to Ayew, who headed straight back into the keeper’s arms from what was deemed to be an offside position.

The game was being played at quite a pace with the Hornets unable to calm it down by keeping possession in midfield for long enough and they needed Gomes to make another save in the 34th minute, pushing over a rising Sinclair drive from the edge of the 18-yard box after the Villa wide man had done well cutting in from the left flank.

Watford had another scare three minutes later when a low Gil corner from the right was flicked across the six-yard box at the near post by Ayew and an under-pressure Ciaran Clark slid in at the back upright but put the ball wide.

The hosts had offered enough to get back on terms and four minutes before the break their efforts were to be rewarded.

The Hornets found themselves defending a free-kick in a dangerous position after Miguel Britos was adjudged to have brought down Alan Hutton. But rather than go for goal, Veretout clipped an appetising delivery into the box and Richards got up very well to plant a header beyond Gomes and make it 1-1.

The visitors weren’t flustered by being pegged back though, and looked to finish the half strongly by winning a couple of corners but neither of which were able to result in attempts on target as an entertaining half ended all-square.

Another couple of corners followed for the visitors at the start of the second half but, again, there was to be no real attacking end product from them. Their third corner of the half in the 50th minute promised more as Deeney turned the ball goalwards, only for it to be headed away by an opponent.

Watford did have better control of the play in the opening minutes of the second half before it was Villa’s turn to have a good couple of minutes of possession during which ended with Gomes dropping a Sinclair cross but he had enough black-shirted teammates around him to clear the danger.

Within two minutes, all eyes were to be on Gomes again – but for far more worrying reasons.

The Brazilian keeper was caught in the face by a knee from Cathcart and as the ball was cleared, Gomes was clearly in real trouble as he writhed around in the six-yard box. Referee Lee Mason immediately stopped play as the club’s medical staff and then an ambulance crew rushed onto the pitch. Play was halted for at least five minutes before Gomes was taken from the field of play strapped to a stretcher and wearing an oxygen mask.

Flores was already preparing to bring on Anya before the injury to his keeper and he was finally able to come on in the 67th minute for Paredes, at the same time as Gomes was replaced by Giedrius Arlauskis.

Garde also took the opportunity to bring on Adama for Gil but within three minutes the Hornets were to take the lead for a second time in bizarre circumstances.

The Hornets certainly started the better after the enforced stoppage in play and in the 69th minute they built from the right before Watson found Deeney, who sought to slide in Ighalo, only for Hutton to get to the ball first and stab it past the helpless Guzan to put the visitors 2-1 in front.

The Lithuanian was quickly into the action, springing to his left as a header from a corner was deflected narrowly wide before having to tidy at the foot of his right-hand upright following another Villa corner.

Watford though, were looking increasingly in control and could have opened up the Villa defence on more than one occasion had the quality of the final ball been better.

There was a concerning moment for the visiting faithful with ten minutes to play when Sinclair jinked his way into the area from the left but, if anything, he held onto the ball for too long and was tackled by Britos before the ball bounced up and hit Watson’s arm but the referee was right on the spot and signalled for play to continue.

Adlene Guedioura replaced Abdi with ten minutes to go before Deeney screwed an effort high and wide after latching onto a long pass forward.

Rudy Gestede came on for Gana with eight minutes remaining but two minutes later Watford’s talismanic skipper – and boyhood-supporting Blues fan – looked to have made the game safe.

The goal arose after Ighalo had tried a shot which spun up off a defender but Deeney anticipated the dropping ball and sent a header beyond Guzan to make it 3-1 before embarking on celebrations that earned him a booking for his troubles.

That should have been that but in the last minute of normal time Ayew received the ball in the Hornets box before hitting a fine curling finish on his right foot to make it 3-2.

The signalling of a minimum of ten minutes of injury time offered Villa further hope but Watford’s response to falling behind was to go straight back on the attack as Guedioura twice forced Guzan into saves, the second with a dipping effort from the edge of the 18-yard box that the Villa keeper was just able to get down to.

Guedioura was all-action in the closing stages, winning a couple of telling challenges to prevent the home side from trying to build up some late momentum as the Hornets increasingly sought to run down the clock at every opportunity.

One such instance led to Villa being awarded a free-kick which Guzan took but after Deeney had won the first header, the Hornets sprung the counter. Ighalo held the ball up, fed Capoue to send Deeney racing away. He in turn played the ball back to Capoue but in seeking to try and be a touch over-elaborate, his attempted pass was headed behind.

In total more than 11 minutes of injury time were played before Mason blew his whistle and Flores was able to hold two clenched fists to the air in celebration of a first Watford win at Villa Park since 1969.

Aston Villa: Guzan; Hutton, Richards, Clark, Richardson; Sanchez; Gil (Adama 67), Veretout, Gana, Sinclair; Ayew. Not used: Bunn, Okore, Bacuna, Westwood, Lescott, Gestede.

Watford: Gomes (Arlauskis 67); Nyom, Cathcart, Britos, Ake; Capoue, Watson; Paredes (Anya 67), Deeney, Abdi (Guedioura 80); Ighalo. Not used: Jurado, Ibarbo, Berghuis, Diamanti.

Bookings: Capoue for a foul on Adama (74); Deeney for excessive celebrating (84); Clark for a foul on Ighalo (88); Ake for time wasting (90).

Attendance: 35,057.

Referee: Lee Mason.