Everton were twice frustrated by the woodwork as they went down to a second-half Andre Gray strike at Watford.
Gyfli Sigurdsson clipped the frame of the goal five minutes into the second half. And after substitute Gray had converted midfielder Will Hughes’ low cross on 65 minutes, it was Lucas Digne’s turn to hit the bar – the Frenchman unable to replicate the free-kick heroics he summoned when the teams met at Goodison Park back in December.
There were further chances for Dominic Calvert-Lewin but Everton, who had Kurt Zouma red carded following the final whistle, were unable to conjure a leveller.
Jordan Pickford, quietly stitching together quite the run of successive Premier League appearances – this was a 65th on the spin since joining Everton last summer – found a way to thwart Etienne Capoue from the closest of ranges on 11 minutes.
The ball sat up nicely for French midfielder Capoue after Troy Deeney had chested down Daryl Janmaat’s high cross. Capoue thrashed at his shot which took a nick off some part of the advancing Pickford’s body and flew over.
Capoue had done rather better in his own box earlier on, rising to divert a Digne delivery off its Cenk Tosun-bound path.
Striker Tosun was foiled in similar fashion on 13 minutes, Richarlison with the delivery this time, stood up from the right, Adrian Mariappa the defender doing the tidying up.
Everton were quick into the tackle from the outset, Mariappa the recipient when Tom Davies sensed a yellow and black shirt dawdling on the ball and hurtled across on a retrieval mission.
Jonjoe Kenny, too, outstanding in his duel with Manchester City flyer Leroy Sane in midweek, was sharp and combative, intercepting and winning countless challenges – on one leg at one point after hurting himself as Watford made tracks down the left until Kenny halted Ken Sema.
Defender Zouma was denied by Ben Foster with 20 minutes played. Digne’s long throw came back to him via Dutch defender Janmaat, the left-back returning the ball and finding Zouma whose stooping header across Foster was clutched by the goalkeeper.
Foster’s first save had been fairly routine, the former England ‘keeper comfortably pouching a header from Michael Keane.
That Foster had to work harder later in the half was partly the doing of two of his teammates. Jose Holebas and Abdoulaye Doucoure got their wires crossed at the edge of the box, allowing Tosun to nip in and thrash a shot from 18 yards which Foster pawed away to his left.
Digne threw himself in the way of a low Gerard Deulofeu strike moments before the break. Soon after the restart left-back Holebas was off beam with a drive from distance – but not before Sigurdsson's improvised effort had hit the top of the bar. Craig Cathcart cleared a high cross but only after a fashion. The ball dropped a few yards away where Sigurdsson, surrounded by bodies, jabbed out a leg and poked a strike at the target.
Holebas had another shot diverted wide on 64 minutes following a neat interchange of passes involving Hughes, Doucore and Deulofeu, albeit Everton's players were united in claiming the ball travelled out straight from the Greek's boot.
Watford kept their foot down at the corner, the visitors unable to clear their lines. The ball alighted with Cathcart, who had stayed up following the set-piece. He nudged a pass forward for Hughes, who slid the ball across goal from the right, enabling Gray to apply the final touch.
Marco Silva, who had replaced Andre Gomes with Theo Walcott just prior to the goal, made two more changes, Bernard on for Richarlison and very quickly followed by forward Calvert-Lewin, with Sigurdsson making way.
Tosun darted in front of Mariappa but directed his effort past the near post after Walcott had escaped down the right with 10 minutes remaining.
Walcott followed the same route a couple of minutes later and was unfairly stopped by the retreating Holebas. Digne took the free-kick, sending it on an arcing trajectory and nicking off the top of the bar.
Kenny flew beyond Capoue to send over a ball that was headed behind by Cathcart.
Calvert-Lewin had a presentable opportunity as the clock ticked down. Walcott popped up on the left to feed Zouma, the centre-half joining his team's attack. He skilfully evaded Capoue, biting at his heels, and lifted in a cross which Calvert-Lewin guided marginally off target.
Calvert-Lewin had Everton's final sight of goal, too. Bernard was sent tumbling to the turf by Janmaat. Digne served up the dead ball but Calvert-Lewin's header was planted into the midriff of a very pleased Foster.