Troy Deeney scored twice as Watford battled to a 2-1 Premier League win at Crystal Palace on Saturday.
Deeney opened the scoring in the 16th minute from the penalty spot before Emmanuel Adebayor marked his first home start for Palace with an equaliser on the stroke of half-time.
The former Arsenal and Tottenham striker, who had not found the back of the net since October 2014, looked to have ended Palace’s run of three successive home defeats in the Premier League with a fine header, but Deeney struck the decisive blow in the 82nd minute from Ben Watson’s cross.
Yohan Cabaye hit a post with a late volley for the hosts but they could not find a second leveller and ended the game with 10 men following Pape Souare’s dismissal for a horror tackle on Valon Behrami.
Watford’s victory is only their second in nine league outings and moves them up to eighth, while 12th-placed Palace have now gone nine matches without a win.
After a scrappy opening 15 minutes, Watford went ahead just after the quarter-hour mark through Deeney’s penalty.
Mile Jedinak hauled the striker to the ground as the duo jostled in the area, referee Robert Madley pointed to the spot and Deeney stepped up to send Wayne Hennessey the wrong way to net the visitors’ first away league goal since Boxing Day.
Palace quickly went in search of an equaliser, with Cabaye forcing Heurelho Gomes into a good save, but the hosts struggled for creativity going forward.
Instead, Alan Pardew’s men were thankful to Hennessey for keeping them in the match. The Wales international got down well to save at his near post from Odion Ighalo before thwarting Nordin Amrabat on the follow-up.
Ighalo should have done better than volley over the crossbar when Deeney’s header found him unmarked eight yards out shortly before the break and Palace seemed destined to go into the interval behind. Adebayor, though, had other ideas.
In the final minute of the first period, the forward – having had no impact on the match to that point – rose magnificently to head Connor Wickham’s cross beyond Gomes.
It was the first time a Palace striker had scored from open play in the Premier League all season and gave the hosts a parity they scarcely deserved at half-time.
The goal gave the home team fresh life after the break and Gomes’ right boot was all that stood between Adebayor and a brace on his first Selhurst Park start, while the shot stopper leapt to his right to push away Jordon Mutch’s 20-yard drive shortly after.
Gomes was again called upon with 17 minutes remaining to claw another looping Adebayor header away to safety while, at the other end, Nathan Ake was denied by Hennessey after being slipped in by Ighalo.
It seemed as though a lively second period was not going to feature a goal until Deeney popped up with eight minutes remaining, getting on the end of Watson’s floated cross from the right, to take the ball down and beat Hennessey to the keeper’s left.
Cabaye then hit the post with a left-footed strike from outside the area and Palace’s woes deepened with the late sending-off for Souare after a reckless, over-the-top tackle on Behrami in stoppage time.