Pontus Jansson’s last-minute header broke Watford’s hearts and gave Brentford a third successive Premier League win for the first time.
It looked like Emmanuel Dennis’ powerful strike after the break had secured a point for Watford, but the final result pushes them even closer to an immediate return to the Championship.
Christian Norgaard had put the Bees ahead inside 15 minutes.
It was a game of small margins as moments before Jansson’s strike, Imran Louza had missed a chance to win with the goal gaping.
The result leaves Watford in 19th, six points adrift of safety having played two more games than Everton.
Brentford took the lead through Norgaard; Kristoffer Ajer flicked on Ethan Pinnock’s long throw, and the Dane was there to apply the close-range finish.
There was a stagnant feel to the game for much of the first half. Ismaila Sarr and Dennis were trying to combine and restore parity for Watford, but they struggled to impose themselves.
But the tide turned in the first 10 minutes of the second half. At one end, Ivan Toney squandered a chance to double Brentford’s lead, before Dennis fired home from a tight angle to make it 1-1.
Initially disallowed for offside after Sarr’s flick-on from Moussa Sissoko’s cross, VAR intervened and the goal counted to give Vicarage Road an entirely new impetus.
The home side pushed for a crucial winner, and after hitting the bar with a free-kick through Dennis, Louza somehow failed to score from an open goal before Jansson provided the Bees’ sting in the tail.
There was enough character and energy in the Watford second-half performance to take something from the game, and they will rue Louza’s chance for a long time, but in truth, their first-half display summed up their issues.
Boss Roy Hodgson looked dismayed on the touchline as his side failed to show the sort of desire and purpose required in their position.
In Sarr and Dennis, the Hornets have two potent attacking players, but once again, they showed their soft underbelly, particularly with the goal they conceded.
They hit the bar and the post, so there was bad luck – but evidence of why they are struggling was there once again.
Relegation looked a real possibility for Brentford some weeks ago, and it wasn’t really an issue coming into this game, but now they really can look forward to another season.
Christian Eriksen has made the difference since his arrival, and he again showed why he was such a key player, even if his impact waned as the game progressed.
Source – BBC Sport