Watford took a giant step towards automatic promotion from the Sky Bet Championship when they beat leaders Norwich 1-0 in a top of the table clash at Carrow Road.
The Hornets bounced back from a shock defeat at neighbours Luton in the best possible fashion as Dan Gosling’s second-half goal earned them a priceless victory.
It took them to within five points of their promoted hosts, but more importantly put more distance between themselves and the chasing pack, with games running out.
For Norwich it was a second home defeat in four days since booking a place in the Premier League, but they are still well placed to clinch the title with just three matches to play.
With Ismaila Sarr posing a constant threat down the right flank, Watford had by far the better of the first half and would have been ahead but for a combination of poor finishing and some excellent goalkeeping from Tim Krul.
Gosling should have opened the scoring after just six minutes when he headed Craig Cathcart’s cross over the top from a good position, while Sarr then fired just wide after working himself some space in box.
It was one-way traffic in the early stages, with Gosling wasting another good chance from the edge of the box, but Norwich had their moments as the half progressed, Todd Cantwell and Kieran Dowell both seeing shots deflected just over.
However the Hornets were the dominant force and Krul did well to foil Sarr at the near post before producing a superb double save to thwart first Ken Sema and then Sarr.
The visitors worked another good opportunity six minutes into the second half when Sarr hooked the ball just over the target after being picked out in the six-yard box by Sema.
Cantwell tested goalkeeper Daniel Bachmann after a slaloming run to the edge of the box but the Hornets were still looking the better side and deservedly took the lead on 57 minutes.
An attack down the right saw the ball reach Joao Pedro just inside the box and the striker did well to pick out an unmarked Gosling who had no trouble side-footing home at the back post.
The Canaries responded well, with Cantwell lifting the ball just over following a strong run and cross from Max Aarons.
The leaders were now having the bulk of possession, although it needed a superb last-ditch tackle from Grant Hanley to prevent substitute Andre Gray from doubling Watford’s advantage 15 minutes from time.
There were more than nine minutes of added time – and Will Hughes was required to make a brilliant block to deny substitute Mario Vrancic a dramatic late leveller.