Watford are, at least for a few hours, back up to seventh in the Premier League after they came from behind to win for just the second time this season and earned a first victory over Everton since 1987 following a deserved 3-2 success at Vicarage Road this lunchtime.

The omens were initially not good when Romelu Lukaku capitalised on a great pass from Gareth Barry but some lax Miguel Britos defending to give the visitors the lead. But Watford’s attacking play increasingly became more purposeful and they deserved to get on terms before the break, equalising through a fantastic Stefano Oaka flick from a Nordin Amrabat cross.

Everton’s defending had looked less than convincing for much of the first half and they were to be twice undone from set pieces after the break as the Hornets took command with two goals in the space of five minutes.

The supplier on both occasions was Jose Holebas, first with a free-kick which the unmarked Sebastian Prodl headed home before the Greek international delivered the corner which saw Okaka head in his second of the afternoon.

But Everton were not done after Ronald Koeman played an attacking hand from the bench and once Lukaku had reduced the deficit to 3-2, the Hornets were forced to see out some nervous closing minutes as they sat increasingly deep but showed all their battling qualities.

Walter Mazzarri made two changes from the team that lost 3-1 at West Bromwich Albion last time out with Britos and Behrami returning to the starting XI following suspension in place of Roberto Pereyra, who was serving a one-match ban for his dismissal at the Hawthorns, and Christian Kabasele.

Koeman also made two alterations to the team that started last week’s 1-1 draw with Manchester United, one of which was enforced after Yannick Bolasie suffered a cruciate ligament injury. Former Hornets Player of the Season Tom Cleverley dropped to the bench and their places were taken by James McCarthy and Gerard Deulofeu.

Watford, who started with Amrabat on the right of midfield and Etienne Capoue on the opposite flank, sought to make the running in the early stages as both sides felt each other out. But among the first incidents of note was a seventh-minute yellow card for Adlene Guedioura after going over the top of the ball whilst challenging Idrissa Gueye.

The visitors won the first corner of the match moments later and after it was taken short, Heurelho Gomes had to get down sharply to punch away Mirallas’ dangerous delivery from the right into the near post.

The first ‘shot’ of the afternoon came in the 13th minute when Guedioura’s ball into the box was intelligently flicked on by Troy Deeney to Capoue in space on the left side of the penalty area, but the Frenchman got his attempted curler all wrong to such an extent he put the ball out for a throw on the opposite side of the pitch.

Soon after though, the hosts found themselves with numbers over when Deeney slipped in Capoue on the left and only a last-minute intervention from Ramiro Funes Mori prevented Okaka from having a clear close-range sight of goal.

Barry levelled up the card count in the 14th minute for a foul on Camilo Zuniga, but three minutes later the Everton skipper was to receive the ball from Leighton Baines and hit a fine pass on the turn from just inside the opposition half that caught Britos napping and Lukaku stole in behind to place a simple side-foot finish beyond Gomes to make it 1-0.

The Hornets responded positively to going behind with Behrami playing the ball into Deeney on the edge of the area and he played a back-heeled lay-off into the path of Okaka, but his right-footed shot was rather too telegraphed and Maarten Stekelenburg was able to save with relative comfort.

Britos flashed a header over following a Guedioura corner into the near post and soon after Amrabat, as he had done previously, beat Baines on the right and then outpaced Funes Mori, but his cut back didn’t fall kindly for Deeney and then the ball ran away from Capoue as the Hornets captain tried to help it on.

The flow of the game continued to be mainly towards the Everton end with the hosts having plenty of the ball without being able to prise an opening until a Holebas long throw was flicked on Deeney, but Guedioura’s header lacked the power to really test Stekelenburg.

But in the 36th minute the Hornets efforts were rewarded when, after Deeney had won a superb header, Okaka initially spread the play a little too wide to Amrabat, who was in space on the right. But the Moroccan international managed to get the ball under control before playing a low delivery into the near post where Okaka got across the front of Stekelenburg to equalise with a superb back-heeled flick. He then proceeded to sprint towards the dug-outs where he embraced Mazzarri.

Watford looked to be in again in the 42nd minute when Guedioura clipped a delivery to the far post and Deeney got in behind the Toffees defence but he got his attempted finish wrong and put the ball out.

The Hornets finished the opening half with the momentum and had been good value after falling behind, having played with increasing purpose as the first half unfolded.

Before the second period started though, there was some concern as Behrami knelt down on the pitch and was sick. But after receiving treatment he decided he was able to continue.

The hosts continued their front foot approach, but their opponents also looked to show greater ambition than they had done for much of the first half after taking the lead.

A number of offside calls punctuated the early stages of the second half and there was little in the way of goalmouth action until Prodl headed over a Guedioura free-kick from the right. But the warning was not heeded by the visitors.

The Hornets were awarded another free-kick soon after in the 60th minute, this time on the left, and when Holebas swung in the delivery Prodl was able to rise largely unmarked to plant a header past the static and helpless Stekelenburg to give his side a 2-1 lead.

Daryl Janmaat was also preparing to enter the fray at this stage and he replaced Guedioura before Baines was booked for a body check on Amrabat in which the Everton left-back came off worse. But his side’s problems were about to get even worse.

The visitors survived thanks to a superb Stekelenburg save when he somehow managed to deflect a Britos angled header over his own bar after the Hornets centre-half had been left totally unmarked at the far post to meet a free-kick.

But Everton’s escape was to be short-lived as from Holebas' resultant inswinging corner from the right, an unmarked Okaka rose to head home his second of the game to put Watford 3-1 to the good in the 64th minute.

The visitors were a mess defensively but Koeman had no choice but to go for it and brought on Ross Barkley for Gueye before Enner Valencia replaced Mirallas.

Holebas was booked, somewhat harshly, for taking too much time to take a throw-in before Everton did enjoy a period of pressure. But the home defence stood form with Gomes punching clear when required.

Valencia curled a shot high and wide before Okaka’s good afternoon’s work came to an end with ten minutes remaining when he made way for Ben Watson.

Vicarage Road then rose as one in the 81st minute for a period of applause in memory of life-long fan Ray Batchelor, who died after last Saturday’s game and this act was superbly marked by the Everton faithful as well.

After Aaron Lennon had replaced Baines, Watford did survive a scare when a low Deulofeu cross from the right was deflected across goal and off the far post by Britos before a ball in from the opposite flank was headed wide by Valencia.

But Watford were not to escape when the ball was played into their box by Lennon from the left with four minutes remaining as Lukaku was left unmarked to head past Gomes to make it 3-2.

The Everton striker had another attempt soon after, this time from 25 yards, and although Gomes was not unduly trouble his teammates were not helping themselves by sitting increasingly deep and with no out ball other than now lone striker Deeney.

There were more anxious moments when Capoue committed a foul 25 yards from his own goal and although Barkley got his right-footed set piece up and over the wall, Gomes was always behind it.

Injury time was frantic as Everton kept pressing while their opponents tried to run down the clock when they had the opportunity, but Watford safely saw it out to get back to winning ways after consecutive defeats.

Watford: Gomes; Zuniga (Kabasele 90), Prodl, Britos, Holebas; Amrabat, Guedioura (Janmaat 61), Behrami, Capoue; Okaka (Watson 80), Deeney. Not used: Pantilimon, Success, Sinclair, Ighalo.

Everton: Stekelenburg; Coleman, Williams, Funes Mori, Baines (Lennon 83); Gueye (Barkley 64), Barry, McCarthy; Deulofeu, Lukaku, Mirallas (Valencia 71). Not used: Joel, Jagielka, Cleverley, Holgate.

Bookings: Guedioura for a foul on Gueye (7); Barry for a foul on Zuniga (14); Baines for a foul on Amrabat (62); Holebas for time wasting (74).

Attendance: 20,769 (2,167 away fans).

Referee: Anthony Taylor.