Match ends, Watford 1, Everton 0.
Watford 1-0 Everton: Hornets earn gritty victory
Watford held off late pressure from Everton to claim a hard-fought victory over their former manager Marco Silva.
Much was promised of a game that saw Silva return to Vicarage Road for the first time, but neither side was able to take a strangle-hold of the game.
Half-time substitute Andre Gray scored the only goal of the match midway through the second half when he tapped in Will Hughes' low cross following a fine volleyed pass from Craig Cathcart.
In an otherwise tame affair, tempers flared after the final whistle when Kurt Zouma was shown two yellow cards for dissent.
Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford had earlier been alert to keep out Etienne Capoue and Gerard Deulofeu, while Ben Foster saved well to deny Cenk Tosun.
And while the Toffees did twice rattle the woodwork in the second period - through Gylfi Sigurdsson's deft flick and Lucas Digne's free-kick - they did not apply any real pressure until the closing stages.
Substitute Dominic Calvert-Lewin twice should have done better with headers, but the Hornets deserve credit for how they defended.
The result consigns Everton to their third straight Premier League defeat, keeping them ninth, while Watford move four points clear of the Toffees in eighth.
Silva's unhappy return
Saturday marked Silva's first return to Vicarage Road since he was sacked by the Hornets at the end of the 2017-18 campaign.
And while the Everton boss got the last laugh in December, when his former club were denied all three points at Goodison Park by Digne's 96th-minute equaliser, he certainly did not this time.
His team were lacklustre throughout and could have gone behind in the opening moments when Pickford made a fine save with his head to keep out Etienne Capoue from point-blank range.
Deulofeu also saw a good chance blocked in the first half. But for all their efforts, the Hornets' opener did not come until the 65th minute, when Gray, who replaced Ken Sema at half-time, tapped home only his fourth league goal of the season.
Before that, the hosts had been slightly fortunate early in the second half when Sigurdsson's delicate lob hit the crossbar following a penalty area scramble.
They rode their luck again as the match drew to a close when Digne almost grabbed another late equaliser, but the woodwork came to Watford's rescue.
However, Javi Gracia's side deserved their victory - which will no doubt bring them a great deal of pleasure at Silva and Everton's expense.
Everton's struggles continue
In his pre-match news conference, Silva said Troy Deeney's derogatory comments at a midweek Fans' Forum event may have given his players motivation.
But that did not appear to be the case at Vicarage Road as his side struggled to gain a foothold in the first half and could have gone behind on more than one occasion if it had not been for Pickford.
Cenk Tosun, who returned to the starting XI alongside Sigurdsson and Richarlison, did have two half-chances in the opening 45 minutes, but neither seriously troubled Ben Foster in the Hornets' goal.
And it did not get much better for Silva's side in the second half as Richarlison, playing against his former club, struggled to make an impact and was substituted on the hour, while the uncharacteristically quiet Sigurdsson was hooked shortly after.
The Toffees did improve following Bernard's introduction as the skilful Brazilian was able to break lines and drive forward where Richarlison had failed to do so, but for all his efforts they could not find an equaliser.
Defeat means Everton have now lost three consecutive league games for the first time since January 2018, and pressure is mounting on Silva.
Man of the match - Abdoulaye Doucoure (Watford)
'There was extra spice in the game' - what they said
Watford goalscorer Andre Gray: "With the ex-manager here there was extra spice in the game - especially with the fans. It pushes you on.
"In the second half we had that edge. We didn't play that well but we got over the line.
"Regardless of the 'edge' of the match, we would have gone for it because we were desperate for the win."
Everton skipper Tom Davies: "We dug in again. We're not happy and we have to look back on this match to see what we need to change.
"We underperformed again today - we had enough chances."
Gray ends his drought - the stats
- Andre Gray's opener for Watford ended a run of 10 Premier League appearances without a goal for the striker, his longest goal drought in the competition.
- Watford have won their last three home Premier League games against Everton - the first time they've won three in a row against an opponent at Vicarage Road in the competition.
- The Hornets have registered three clean sheets in their last four Premier League games, as many as they managed in their previous 21 in the competition.
- Everton have lost seven of their last 11 Premier League away games (W3 D1), after losing just one of the six before that (W2 D3).
- Marco Silva has won just three of his 13 Premier League games at Vicarage Road (including 12 as Watford manager).
- With his assist, Will Hughes registered a goal involvement on home soil for the first time in his last 13 Premier League appearances, his last being an assist against Bournemouth in March 2018.
Watford now face a trip to Queens Park Rangers in the FA Cup on Friday 15 February (19:45 GMT), while Everton are not in action until they travel to Cardiff on Tuesday 26 February (19:45 GMT).
- 25HolebasBooked at 83mins
- 19HughesSubstituted forChalobahat 90'minutes
- 12SemaSubstituted forGrayat 45'minutes
- 7DeulofeuSubstituted forCleverleyat 81'minutes
- 9DeeneyBooked at 70mins
- 5ZoumaBooked at 90mins
- 8André GomesSubstituted forWalcottat 63'minutes
- 30RicharlisonSubstituted forBernardat 66'minutes
- 10G SigurdssonSubstituted forCalvert-Lewinat 74'minutes
- Lee Probert
- Shots on Target
Second yellow card to Kurt Zouma (Everton).
Kurt Zouma (Everton) is shown the yellow card.
Second Half ends, Watford 1, Everton 0.
Lucas Digne (Everton) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Troy Deeney (Watford).
Foul by Kurt Zouma (Everton).
Troy Deeney (Watford) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Offside, Everton. Bernard tries a through ball, but Cenk Tosun is caught offside.
Attempt saved. Dominic Calvert-Lewin (Everton) header from the centre of the box is saved in the bottom right corner. Assisted by Lucas Digne with a cross.
Bernard (Everton) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Foul by Daryl Janmaat (Watford).
Substitution, Watford. Nathaniel Chalobah replaces Will Hughes.
Idrissa Gueye (Everton) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Foul by Andre Gray (Watford).
Attempt missed. Dominic Calvert-Lewin (Everton) header from the centre of the box misses to the left. Assisted by Kurt Zouma.
Corner, Everton. Conceded by Craig Cathcart.
Tom Davies (Everton) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Abdoulaye Doucouré (Watford).
Lucas Digne (Everton) hits the bar with a left footed shot from a difficult angle and long range on the right from a direct free kick.