Watford threw away a two-goal lead as a frenetic second half saw Everton beat the Hornets 3-2 at Goodison Park.

After an insipid first 45 minutes, goals from Richarlison and Christian Kabasele looked to have sealed all three points for Watford with an hour played.

However, an injury to Heurelho Gomes would prove pivotal as Orestis Karnezis came from the bench to make the most inauspicious of Watford debuts.

The goalkeeper didn’t cover himself in glory for Everton’s first two goals, racing from his line for Oumar Niasse’s effort and failing to claim a corner for Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s headed leveller.

The Toffees’ winner arrived in the stoppage time as Jose Holebas upended Aaron Lennon in the box and Leighton Baines dispatched the resulting spot-kick.

Tom Cleverley should have secured a point for the Hornets form the penalty spot in the 10th minute of added time, but fired wide after Richarlison had been fouled.

The result leaves Watford ninth in the Premier League heading into the international break. They return to action with the visit of West Ham in a fortnight’s time.

Will Hughes was handed a first Premier League start by Marco Silva as the Watford boss made two changes from the side which lost to Stoke City last time out.

The other was enforced, with Andre Gray coming in for Troy Deeney as the Hornets skipper missed the first game of a three-match ban handed out for an altercation with Joe Allen last week.

Everton came into the game on the back of a 3-0 Europa League loss to Lyon, which extended their losing streak to five straight games.

They did, however, start the brighter of the two sides without creating any meaningful openings in a cagey first 20 minutes.

Watford for their part offered little early on and both teams looked like sides operating on minimal confidence levels.

It took 22 minutes for the first genuine attempt on goal to arrive as Gylfi Sigurdsson picked up possession on the half-way line and sent Niasse away on the right.

His pass inside picked out Wayne Rooney and he swept a low ball across goal for Baines who arrived unmarked at the back post.

The left-back’s measured effort lacked any real conviction and Heurelho Gomes made a comfortable save at his near post.

The chance sparked Watford into some semblance of life and Gray should have done better with a fine chance soon after.

Hughes, who was Watford’s brightest spark in the first half, released Kiko Femenia and he squared for Gray who took a fresh air shot from six yards.

Watford’s record signing did far better five minutes before the break, but was let down by the profligate finishing of Richarlison.

Having done well to hold off Phil Jagielka, Gray slipped a pass into the Brazilian who rounded Jordan Pickford and fired into the side netting with the goal at his mercy.

The angle was tightening, but Richarlison, who has been guilty of a number of glaring misses in recent weeks, should have given the visitors the lead.

Richarlison atoned for his error with the second half just 33 seconds old as he put Watford ahead with a composed finish.

Once again the winger combined with Gray for the chance as the former Burnley man played a clipped pass into the box where his team mate waited unmarked.

After once again rounding Pickford, Richarlison did well to keep his feet and stab a finish home from close range before running to the traveling Watford faithful to celebrate.

The lead would have lasted less than 10 minutes had it not been for the heroics of Gomes who did superbly to spring to his right and deny Sigurdsson from eight yards.

Rooney collected the scraps and saw his dinked cross punched away by the Watford number one, who was left with a nasty cut to the head which ended his game.

The collision between Gomes and Kabasele saw Karnezis come on for his first outing in a Watford shirt.

Gomes’ intervention was made all the more significant just after the hour as Watford extended their lead.

Holebas whipped a corner in from the right and Kabasele arrived unchecked to power a header home from six yards.

The goal should have killed the game as a contest, but a rush of blood from Karnezis gifted Everton a route back into the match.

A ball over the top from Ademola Lookman appeared simple enough to deal with before the Greek international raced from his line.

Niasse beat him and a dithering Holebas to the ball and nicked it beyond the replacement stopper to bundle in and reduce the arrears.

Almost out of nothing Everton were level in the 74th minute as Karnezis was once again found wanting.

The summer signing failed to come for Baines’ looping corner and Calvert-Lewin rose high into the Merseyside night to head in from under the crossbar.

The spell provided a startling introduction to the English game for Karnezis, and he will need to learn from the errors quickly if he is to provide genuine competition to Gomes.

Everton completed the most unlikely of comebacks as the game ticked into stoppage time after the unfortunate Holebas lost his footing and brought down Lennon.

Karnezis went the right way, but Baines’ strike had too much power and found the bottom left corner of his goal.

The game was by no means over with 12 minutes of added time to play and Cleverley had the perfect chance to earn a share of the spoils with two remaining.

A goalmouth scramble saw Pickford drag Richarlison to the deck for a blatant penalty, but Cleverley, who was making his first trip back to his former club, slid a low shot wide from 12 yards.

The miss proved to be the final talking point of a breathless second half, which left a devastated Watford empty handed.

Everton: Pickford, Kenny, Jagielka, Keane, Baines, Gueye, Baningime (Lookman 55) Davies, Sugurdsson, Rooney (Calvert-Lewin 67), Niasse.

Subs not used: Robles, Williams, Lennon, Besic, Holgate

Watford: Gomes (Karnezis 59); Femenía, Kabasele (Mariappa 79), Britos, Holebas; Cleverley, Doucouré, Carrillo, Hughes, Richarlison, Gray.

Subs not used: Janmaat, Watson, Capoue, Sinclair, Okaka.