Watford’s hopes of a famous Wembley win and a Premier League double over Tottenham Hotsour were alive for 80 minutes, but Mauricio Pochettino’s men again showed why they are challenging at the top end of the Premier League to come from behind and win 2-1.

The defeat was hard on the Hornets, who had produced a disciplined and resolute defensive display for the majority of the contest but ultimately Spurs’ waves of second-half attacks were to take their toll as their opponents sat increasingly deep.

It was looking good for Javi Gracia’s men at half-time after Craig Cathcart had headed in a Jose Holebas corner with the help of a deflection off Davinson Sanchez, and the sense it was Watford’s grew when Ben Foster did brilliantly to deny Fernando Llorente before the Spaniard horribly fired over the follow-up from close range.

But with 10 minutes of normal time remaining, Son Heung-min once again proved to be thorn in the Hornets’ side when he equalised and Llorente atoned for his earlier miss by heading in the winner with seven minutes remaining.

Having made 11 changes for the FA Cup victory at Newcastle United, Javi Gracia reverted to his Premier League line-up with his selection showing three changes from the team that drew 0-0 at Burnley in their last-top flight outing.

Daryl Janmaat replaced the injured Kiko Femenia, while Craig Cathcart and Will Hughes returned at the expense of Ken Sema and Christian Kabasele, with the latter not in the Hornets’ match-day 18.

Mauricio Pochettino’s injury problems were well documented going into the game but, as expected, Son Heung-min did start following South Korea’s early elimination from the Asian Cup, with the Spurs line-up also showing4 three changes from their last league outing, a 2-1 win at Fulham.

As well as Son, Serge Aurier and Moussa Sissoko also came into the starting XI, with Kieran Trippier and Erik Lamela dropping to the bench and Dele Alli half of the high-profile duo absent with injury, alongside Harry Kane.

Both sides were positive from the outset, with Son looking lively for the hosts, but Watford had the first good opening in the fifth minute when the Spurs defence backed off as Gerard Deulofeu advanced, he slipped the ball out to the right to Janmaat, whose cross was destined for the head of Troy Deeney had Toby Alderweireld not glanced it away from in front of him.

Spurs then had their first period of sustained possession in and around the Hornets’ box, which although the visitors repelled for a spell the ball was soon coming back in their direction as it arrived at Son’s feet to the right of centre outside the 18-yard area. He then turned on to his left foot before hitting a curling shot which wasn’t too far wide of Ben Foster’s right-hand post.

Tottenham’s next chance came in the 15th minute when following a deep Danny Rose cross from the left, the ball broke for Christian Eriksen on the edge of the area and his shot hit Adrian Mariappa, forcing Foster to readjust but he was able to get down to his left to make the save.

Soon after, an Aurier cross from the opposite side was flicked on by Fernando Lorente to Eriksen, who in turn slipped the ball to his left, but the Hornets goalkeeper was again alert to the danger as Son looked to run on to the ball.

Watford safely navigated the first quarter of the match though, and were to have the next sight of an opening in the 25th minute when Janmaat shot high and wide of the target after Deeney had seen an effort blocked.

The promising spell continued for the Hornets, but they were almost caught out when Jan Vertonghen gambled on a counter-attack and was almost played through on goal but for an intervention from Foster, who tackled the Spurs man outside the area.

Back came the Hornets with a long ball forward giving Deulofeu the opportunity to take on Davinson Sanchez, which he did before checking back inside and hitting a right-footed shot a yard wide of Hugo Lloris’ right-hand post from 20 yards.

Watford continued to ask questions though, and in the 38th minute they were to make the breakthrough.

After the Hornets had seen one shot from a corner routine deflected behind, the visitors worked a different set-piece as Holebas whipped a delivery from the quadrant into the heart of the penalty area which Lloris tried to come for, only to stop and Cathcart got above Sanchez to head his side in front.

Pochettino’s men sought an instant response with Son playing a dangerous ball across the six-yard box which nobody in a white shirt was able to get on the end of.

Spurs looked edgy though, and with nervousness also emanating from the majority of a two-thirds empty Wembley the Hornets continued to seek to press them into mistakes at the back as they went into the break a goal to the good.

Pochettino opted to make a change at the start of the second half, bringing on Lucas Moura for Aurier, and the substitute’s first meaningful involvement was to draw a foul from Mariappa which earned the Hornets centre-half a booking.

But Spurs really should have levelled six minutes after the restart and the reason they didn’t was due to the brilliance of Foster and a dreadful miss.

Son started the business end of the move when he fed Sissoko on the right, he immediately delivered a low cross into the six-yard box where the Watford keeper showed stunning reflexes to deny Llorente, only for the Spaniard to incredibly balloon the follow-up over from barely three yards out.

Spurs continued to dominate the exchanges as the hour mark approached but their opponents remained organised and resolute at the back as they retained their advantage.

Gracia decided to change things on 61 minutes, bringing on Isaac Success for Deulofeu, much to the Spaniard’s clear frustration, before Watford survived another big escape.

Spurs were awarded a free-kick to the left side of the penalty area which Eriksen whipped in low towards the near post, the ball deflecting off Deeney towards the near post where Foster stuck out a leg to keep out. However, Alderweireld kept the ball alive, standing it back up into the six-yard box but Llorente was again unable to find the target with his header.

Watford were finding it difficult to retain possession for any length of time though, and a second change followed in the 66th minute as Ben Wilmot replaced Tom Cleverley.

The substitute’s first key contribution was vital as he got back on his line to block an angled drive from Rose after Janmaat was perhaps fortunate to get away with barging into the back of Moura in the box.

Watford had the next opportunity when a lovely Success flick put Deeney in on the right side of the area, but he was only able to hit the side netting with an angled drive before unsuccessfully appealing for a corner.

Trippier then replaced Sissoko before Etienne Capoue was booked for a foul on Moura as Spurs looked to burst away on the counter. It resulted in a free-kick in a promising position for Eriksen, but the Hornets’ wall did its job to repel the immediate threat.

A succession of corners followed which again were dealt with, although Foster was forced to back-track an over-hit cross-cum-shot from Harry Winks.

However, there were to be some anxious looks in the Spurs defence when a free-kick into the box was nodded down by Deeney, but Success was unable to direct his effort on target.

Pochettino played his final hand by bringing on Erik Lamela for Jan Vertonghen and soon after Watford’s brace defensive resistance was to be finally broken.

A ball down the inside right channel looked to get Llorente in behind, he was unable to get a shot away but the ball broke for Son who took one touch before driving a shot beyond the helpless Foster.

Watford’s response to going behind was positive, but in the 87th minute they were to be holding their heads in their hands.

The home side worked the ball out to left where Rose played in a deep cross and Llorente got up at the far post to head back and across Foster to give Tottenham the lead.

Holebas and Success picked up late bookings as frustration threatened to get the better of the Hornets, who were again left to reflect on what might have been against one of the so-called ‘big six’.

Tottenham Hotspur: Lloris; Alderweireld, Sanchez, Vertonghen (Lamela 79); Aurier (Moura 46), Sissoko (Trippier 69), Winks, Eriksen, Rose; Son; Llorente. Subs not used: Gazzaniga, Dier, Walker-Peters, Skipp.

Watford: Foster; Janmaat, Cathcart, Mariappa, Holebas; Hughes, Cleverley (Wilmot 66), Capoue, Pereyra; Deulofeu (Success 61), Deeney. Subs not used: Gomes, Britos, Masina, Sema, Quina.

Bookings: Mariappa for a foul on Moura (46); Capoue for a foul on Moura (74); Holebas for a foul on Son (90); Success for time wasting (90).

Referee: Graham Scott.