The spirit, togetherness and character in the Watford camp shone through as they produced a stirring comeback to recover from being 2-0 down inside the opening 12 minutes to deservedly beat Norwich City 3-2 at Vicarage Road.

A victorious response to Saturday’s defeat at leaders Leicester City looked a long way off for the first half of the opening 45 minutes as the Hornets were abject.

But once they had managed to get a foothold in the contest through Ismael Kone’s first goal for the club, the tables turned dramatically as the second half increasingly became a case of when – and not if – Valerien Ismael’s men would complete the comeback by scoring a winner as the game ended with furious Canaries fans calling for boss David Wagner to lose his job.

Watford had been dreadful in the opening 25 or so minutes and found themselves staring down the barrel.

Danny Batth gave the Canaries a third-minute lead from the first corner of the match and nine minutes later Ben Hamer was to be beaten for a second time by a powerful Hwang Ui-Jo strike from distance after Ryan Porteous had given the ball away.

The Hornets’ performance remained woefully flat, error strewn and in desperate need of some kind of spark and in it came in the shape of Kone’s first Watford goal, with a fine low strike from around 25 yards.

Incredibly, it was to take the home side next to no time to pull level as Mileta Rajovic headed home a Lewis cross.

Watford were a side transformed, finishing the first half strongly as they attacked in numbers, at a much better tempo and with real purpose.

It was an approach that continued after the restart as Andrews went close to catching out keeper George Long with a deflected cross, before a Kone thunderbolt that deserved to finish in the back of the net rattled the crossbar.

But the Hornets’ positivity was finally – and deservedly - rewarded when goalline technology ruled Asprilla’s angled finish had crossed the line after Long had not been able to hold a Wesley Hoedt shot from distance.

Jake Livemore was at the heart of the comeback with another superb performance in the engine room, prompting and encouraging while making a number of crucial interceptions and proving an absolute pest for the opposition, but fellow midfielders Kone and Edo Kayembe also impressed with their energy, drive and ability to push the home side forward.

Norwich struggled to stem Watford’s left side once Ken Sema and Lewis got into their stride, while Andrews was always a willing attacking runner on the opposite flank as Asprilla looked to hurt the opposition with his trickery on the ball.

Ismael was always going to have to make one change from the starting XI that lost 2-0 at Leicester City on Saturday with Daniel Bachmann suspended, but he also opted for two outfield alterations.

Kone and Asprilla returned to the side alongside goalkeeper Hamer, as Imran Louza and Tom Ince dropped to the bench.

Norwich came into the game following back-to-back wins for the first time since August but Wagner opted for one change to the team that beat QPR 1-0 on Saturday, with Adam Idah replacing Ashley Barnes.

Watford’s vulnerabilities from set-pieces have been their undoing on several occasions already this season, and it was to prove the case yet again inside three minutes as the Canaries made a flying start.

This time it stemmed from a corner from a Gabriel Sara delivery from the right which was taken left-footed into a crowded six-yard box and Batth simply pulled off his man to plant a header inside Hamer’s far post to put Norwich 1-0 up.

It took the Hornets a few minutes to get that setback out of their system before they started to get onto the front foot to look for a response, only to shoot themselves in the foot in the 12th minute.

This time Porteous was responsible, carelessly giving the ball away with a pass into midfield that Sara seized upon, playing an instant ball forward to Hwang who, spotting Hamer a couple of yards off his line, let fly with a superb strike from fully 30 yards that dipped over the keeper and into flew into the net to put the visitors 2-0 up.

But that spectacular strike was to be the scorer’s last meaningful contribution as he picked up an injury a couple of minutes later and had to be replaced by Barnes. While Hwang was receiving treatment though, Porteous offered an apologetic hand to Livermore while their other teammates tried to collect their thoughts after such an awful start.

Livermore troubled referee Simon Hooper’s notebook for the first time in the 18th minute after a heavy challenge on Dimitris Giannoulis, and soon after the Canaries had another sight of goal when Batth headed over a Sara delivery from the left after Asprilla had fouled the City left-back.

Another corner caused Watford more problems in the 25th minute when Sara drove over the ball from the left and Shane Duffy sent in a header from deep in the penalty area which Hamer had to tip over.

Sara sprinted over to take the corner from the opposite side, this time picking out the unmarked Kenny McLean put he send his header over the top.

A few boos were starting to be heard from the Rookery and the mood of the home faithful was not improved when Kayembe sent a routine pass straight out of play. It was a moment that had summed up Watford’s lamentable display for most of the first 30 minutes.

The Hornets desperately needed to get some kind of foothold in the contest and it almost arrived somewhat out of the blue when a corner was worked short and back to Lewis, who let fly from 25 yards which Long got behind but was unable to hold, but Batth did well to prevent Kone from getting on the end of the rebound.

The Canadian international didn’t have long to wait to get his first Hornets goal though, taking a leaf out of his teammate’s book by receiving a ball from the left and turning back out on his right foot before hitting a lovely daisy-cutter from 25 yards which beat the dive of Long to nestle inside the far corner.

Watford had their spark and, almost ridiculously within the context of their non-display for most of the first half, were to score a second goal inside three minutes to equalise.

Lewis did well on the left to stand up a cross and Rajovic rose highest to head his seventh goal of the season past Long.

The Hornets had their confidence back and started to stream forward in numbers at pace and with purpose, while their opponents looked shell-shocked.

That said, it was the Canaries who had the next clear opening when Idah ran on to a Giannoulis pass behind Porteous before taking on and sitting down Hoedt, but Hamer was able to parry his eventual shot.

Back came with Watford with Porteous playing the ball out to the right where Asprilla latched onto it and came inside before hitting a powerful angled drive from the edge of the area which Long helped over the top.

Kayembe hit a speculative shot high and wide from the resultant effort but soon after he was to go much closer to hitting the target with a curling effort from the edge of the area after some more incisive and attractive build-up play.

It may be a cliché but the first half was as good as an example fans will see of a half of two halves as the teams went into the break all-square at 2-2.

Having got his first goal for the club in the opening period, Kone was on the hunt for a second soon after the restart when he did well to step away from an attempted challenge on the edge of the penalty area but his right-footed strike lacked the power to really trouble Long.

The Hornets continued to up the ante though, with Asprilla seeing a shot blocked at the far post following a Lewis delivery, before an Andrews cross from the right took a wicked deflection that sent it looping up and towards goal, with the Canaries keeper forced to desperately parry it out to prevent it dropping behind his goalline.

The Canaries then had the crossbar to thank for saving them from going behind when Kone hit a tremendous right-footed shot from just outside the area after more good work on the left from Sema and Lewis – Kayembe forcing Long into another save with a shot soon after.

Wagner was the first head coach to blink in the 67th minute, making a double change as Liam Gibbs and Kellen Fisher replacing Idah and Jack Stacey, prompting chants of ‘you don’t know what you’re doing’ from the visiting fans and less than complimentary comparisons with former Canaries boss Daniel Farke.

Norwich had switched from their 4-2-3-1 formation to a 4-4-2 but it continued to be their opponents who looked the more likely to score the next goal.

Kone sent a looping header wide following an Asprilla cross from the right as the game increasingly became one of attack against defence – and in the 77th minute the defence was finally breached.

A Kone cross from the left was headed clear to outside the area where Hoedt had time to bring it down before hitting a left-footed shot which Long could only parry and Asprilla was first to the rebound, showing superb footwork to take it round the keeper before squeezing in a shot which hit a defender on the line.

There was some confusion initially about whether the ball had crossed the line but the referee pointed to his wrist before signalling to the centre circle as Norwich’s appeals proved in vain.

Both sides made a double change with seven minutes of normal time remaining, Vakoun Bayo and Matheus Martins coming on for goalscorers Rajovic and Asprilla, while Christian Fassnacht and Batth made way for Borja Sainz and Marcelino Nunez.

Hamer had been a spectator for much of the second half but with two minutes of normal time remaining he was forced into action, first punching away Sara’s inswinging corner from the left before doing even better to tip over Sainz’s half-volleyed follow-up.

The Canaries had finally woken from their slumber in a desperate last throw of the dice as the game moved into four additional minutes, with Ismael opting to firm up his defence in the third of those by bringing on Francesco Sierralta and Mattie Pollock for Sema and Livermore.

Buit the game was to finish in the visitors’ half as Watford safely saw out the closing stages to set the seal on a fine comeback victory.

Watford: Hamer; Andrews, Porteous, Hoedt, Lewis; Kayembe, Livermore (Pollock 90+3), Kone; Asprilla (Martins 83), Rajovic (Bayo 83), Sema (Sierralta 90+3). Subs not used: Roberts, Ince, Louza, Healey, Dele-Bashiru.

Norwich City: Long; Stacey (Fisher 67), Duffy, Batth (Nunez 83), Giannoulis; McLean, Sara; Fassnacht (Sainz 83), Idah (Gibbs 67), Hernandez; Ui-Jo (Barnes 16). Subs not used: Reyes, McCallum, Fisher, Springett, Warner.

Bookings: Livermore for a foul on Giannoulis (18); Stacey for a foul on Sema (35); Duffy for a foul on Kayembe (65); Giannoulis for a foul on Bayo (90+4).

Referee: Simon Hooper.