Watford’s dwindling hopes of claiming the Championship title were extinguished with a 2-0 loss away at Brentford.

Second half strikes from Marcus Forss and Ivan Toney injected some life into a fairly flat fixture with little for either side to play for, condemning Watford to a first defeat against the Bees since 1977.

The result, coupled with a win for Norwich City in their game against Reading, means that the Championship title will go to the Canaries and the Hornets will have to settle for second place.

In a bid to keep their title hopes alive, Xisco Munoz made four changes to the side that sealed promotion against Millwall last weekend, with Joseph Hungbo making his first senior start alongside Andre Gray and Craig Cathcart, replacing Ismaila Sarr, Joao Pedro and Kiko Femenia all of whom were forced out with injuries. Elsewhere William Troost-Ekong dropped to the bench to make way for Christian Kabasele.

It was one of those four replacement players who had the chance to open the scoring in only the second minute of the match. An unmarked Cathcart got on the end of a Tom Cleverley free kick from out on the right but could only glance the ball beyond the far post.

Ten minutes later, another of the incoming quartet gave the Bees something to worry about, this time Hungbo’s charge towards the edge of the area the cause for concern.

A backing away Christian Norgaard brought the winger to the ground, but referee Lee Mason allowed the advantage to be played and the loose ball fell to Dan Gosling, whose shot was beaten out by David Raya.

Brentford were trying to cement a favourable playoff place to help them in their bid to join Watford and Norwich in the Premier League next season, but initially found it difficult to create decent opportunities.

It was just shy of quarter-of-an-hour into the contest when they produced their first half-chance, which fell to Sergi Canos after Kabasele and Francisco Sierralta had half dealt with some pressure in the box with a game of head tennis. The midfielder snatched at his shot and put it wide.

The hosts went much closer moments later with Canos involved again. A foul out on the left from Sierralta gave the Spaniard the chance to deliver the ball over to the back post where an unmarked Norgaard came charging in, only to volley over.

The Hornets were then forced into a change midway through the first half with the unfortunate Hungbo pulling up with what looked like a hamstring injury just 25 minutes into his first senior start for the club. He was replaced by Philip Zinckernagel.

Isaac Success came off the bench soon after, replacing the also injured Cleverley and taking position on the right wing, while Zinckernagel dropped into the centre of midfield.

Immediately after that second change Brentford put the ball in the back of the Watford net from a corner, with Forss scrambling the ball over the line with a backheel, but the referee’s assistant raised his flag to correctly cancel out the goal for offside, keeping the score at 0-0.

Intervention from Daniel Bachmann was required to maintain that scoreline ten minutes before half time when Forss burst away from Sierralta on the left of the penalty area before crossing for Toney in the centre. The striker’s header was aimed straight at the Hornets’ keeper.

There was little Bachmann could do to prevent the hosts from going in front just one minute into the second half after Canos got the better of Cathcart inside the box, before darting to the by line and pulling the ball back to the far post where the waiting Forss prodded into the net.

The lead was doubled on the hour mark when Toney was upended in the box by Sierralta, leaving referee Mason no choice but to point to the spot. The fouled striker stepped up and placed the ball into the far corner of the net beyond the reach of Bachmann.

The ball was put into Bachmann’s goal again just two minutes after, with Toney flicking elegantly into the path of Mathias Jensen, but an offside in the build up denied the Bees for a second time in the game.

A Ken Sema free was easily dealt with by Raya, while Zinckernagel fired well over the bar as the visitors mustered an attempt to get back into the match.

Gray also squandered an opportunity as he was unable to control a ball in behind the Brentford defence from Cathcart.

The Hornets were nearly rewarded for their belated push when Adam Masina's searching ball into the box was chested down by Success, but the Nigerian rattled the crossbar with his shot from inside the six-yard box.

After Tarique Fosu fired narrowly over the bar, Maurizio Pochettino - son of Paris Saint Germain boss, Mauricio - was thrown on for Watford with five minutes of regulation time remaining, as well as Ben Wilmot and Stipe Perica, replacing Gray, Gosling and Will Hughes, but it changed little.

A half-chance for Perica was easily dealt with by Raya, while some slack defending from Pochettino gave Canos the chance to take aim from distance, smacking the bar with his strike.

The result means Brentford will finish in third place and get the home advantage in their playoff semi final.

Watford meanwhile have only pride at stake when they host Swansea next weekend.