Boro stung by Hornets
Sat 12th Jan 3pm
Two goals from Czech striker Matej Vydra served a blow to Middlesbrough's promotion challenge despite a late consolation from Scott McDonald.
Vydra seized upon an error from Boro's Rhys Williams to earn the visitors the lead right on the stroke of half-time, and then found himself on the end of Troy Deeney's through pass to add his second with seven minutes of the contest remaining.
Australian international McDonald headed an injury-time reply but it was too late as the home side slipped to fifth in the table - still four points clear of their latest opponents but having played one game more.
Boro included Nicky Bailey at right-back although it was Emmanuel Ledesma offering early threat when cutting inside on a couple of occasions before McDonald forced a low stop from Manuel Almunia from around twenty-yards.
Seb Hines next headed over following a corner while defensive colleague Williams sliced a clearance over his own goal. But Almunia was again in the action when this time denying Ledesma before the visitors struck as Vydra nipped in to finish when Williams tried to chest a Marco Cassetti cross towards his own keeper.
Watford's Almunia saved again from Ledesma following the break before opposite number Jason Steele thwarted goalscorer Vydra. Home substitute Adam Reach then flashed a shot narrowly wide and Ledesma was also beyond the target.
But the visitors were still appearing a threat and Steele continued to be called upon as they chased further reward, which finally arrived on the break when Vydra despatched a low 83rd minute shot into the corner. The on loan Udinese forward should really have then marked his hat-trick when left with a clear run before drilling narrowly over from the edge of the area.
Deeney also went close for the visitors as Steele reacted again until Boro striker McDonald headed in Reach's cross in added time - but much to late to spark a revival.
Middlesbrough: Steele, Bailey, R. Williams, Hines, Friend, Leadbitter, McEachran (Reach 57), Haroun, Ledesma (Zemmama 71), Jutkiewicz (Miller 69), McDonald
subs (unused): Leutwiler, Parnaby, Thomson, Smallwood
Goals: McDonald (90)
Watford: Almunia, Doyley, Pudil, Cassetti, Nosworthy, Chalobah (Eustace 84), Ekstrand, Abdi, Battocchio, Deeney, Vydra (Yeates 89)
subs (unused): Bond, Forsyth, Anya, Geijo, Forestieri
Goals: Vydra (45, 83)