Sheffield Wednesday slipped to another home defeat as in-form Watford emerged 4-1 winners from Hillsborough.
The Owls were left to rue a missed penalty by Chris Lines after Michail Antonio gave them an early lead before being pegged back by Hornets dangerman Fernando Forestieri.
Alexandre Geijo headed the visitors into the lead after the interval and Troy Deeney extended the advantage before Mark Yeates compounded a miserable evening for Dave Jones’ men with a blistering strike seven minutes from time.
Watford arrived in the midst of a five-game unbeaten run but got off to the worst possible start inside four minutes.
A defensive mix-up saw Antonio burst in on goal and the former Reading man – playing in a more advanced position in the final third - made no mistake with a crisp finish inside the penalty area.
It was the perfect opening for a Wednesday side desperate to climb away from the relegation zone and the hosts certainly settled into the contest well.
But Watford soon began to show their quality in possession before levelling on 17 minutes.
A thrown-in from the left found its way to Forestieri in space on the edge of the box and although Chris Kirkland got something on the Italian’s low drive, the ball found its way into the net.
The Owls needed a positive response and got exactly that on 28 minutes following a super five-man move that culminated with Jay Bothroyd being upended in the area by Daniel Pudil when about to pull the trigger.
The referee pointed to the spot and Lines’ effort was hard and low but Manuel Almunia guessed right to parry to safety.
To their credit, Wednesday far from dwelled on that setback and continued to press until the break, with Bothroyd and Rhys McCabe forcing Almunia into action with shots from distance.
The Hornets emerged for the second half, though, with the bit between their teeth and Kirkland did well to save Geijoa’s near-post header from an accurate Marco Cassetti cross.
The Owls’ keeper thwarted Forestieri moments later with a diving save and again denied the same player before the Hertfordshire outfit stole into the lead.
Yeates’ free kick on 66 minutes from the right sailed over to the back stick, where the advancing Geijo was on hand to nod home.
Squarely in the driving seat, substitute Deeney pounced with almost his first touch on 74 minutes to sweep past Kirkland and Yeates applied the final coating of gloss as the clock ticked down.
Owls: Kirkland, Buxton (J Johnson 68), Llera, Gardner (Taylor 46), Helan, Antonio, Lines, Corry, McCabe (Semedo 53), Bothroyd, Sidibe
Unused substitutes: Bywater, Jones, Mayor, O’Grady
Watford: Almunia, Hall, Yeates (Murray 90), Hogg, Pudil (Dickinson 88), Cassetti, Hoban, Geijo, Chalobah, Ekstrand, Forestieri (Deeney 75)
Unused substitutes: Bonham, Vydra, Smith, Battocchio