Two goals in 58 first-half seconds from Etienne Capoue and Roberto Pereyra saw Watford triumph 2-0 at Wolverhampton Wanderers, ending the hosts' impressive run of form.
Wolves had won four of their last five Premier League games, while Watford had only picked up one point in four, but a surprise result saw Watford leapfrog Nuno Espirito Santo's side into seventh place.
The previous eight of Wolves' Premier League goals had been scored in the second half, yet they were unable to force a late fightback this time around in a lacklustre display.
After a nondescript opening 20 minutes in the first-ever Premier League meeting between the sides, a quickfire Watford double saw the game burst into life.
First, Capoue fired in a powerful, low shot from 30 yards, which flew through the legs of Conor Coady past the unsighted and motionless goalkeeper Rui Patricio.
And the visitors made it two as a slick passing move ended with Abdoulaye Doucoure, who also assisted the first goal, finding Pereyra and the wing-back producing a magnificent finish high past Patricio with the outside of his foot.
Nuno had named an unchanged side for a record-equalling ninth straight Premier League game, but he brought on Ruben Vinagre at half-time and Ivan Cavaleiro on the hour mark, with Adama Traore following later.
Willy Boly's close-range backheel was saved by Ben Foster after Joao Moutinho's free-kick briefly caused panic in the away defence and Cavaleiro sent a presentable free header over, but clear-cut chances were few and far between as Watford coasted home.
What it means: Form book turned on its head
Watford are a tough team to read. Having been thumped 4-0 at home to Bournemouth last time out and without a win since the start of September prior to this game, they put in an assured, confident away performance. That it came even without their usual starting strikers Troy Deeney and Andre Gray was all the more impressive.
Wolves' form since the start of the campaign has been the best by a promoted side for 10 years, but this result should temper expectations somewhat. Their recent performances had seen slick attacking play balanced with a solid defence that had only conceded one goal in seven across all competitions, but they were poor at both ends of the pitch in this one and face Tottenham Hotspur, Arsenal and Chelsea in their next six games.
Doucoure dominates for Watford
Doucoure produced a dominant performance for Watford, just what they needed on the road. He created four chances for his team-mates, including two assists, and had more passes in the opposition half than anyone else on the pitch. Pereyra, who scored for Argentina in the international break, also impressed with his fourth Premier League goal of the season and some good defensive work at the other end of the pitch.
Jimenez struggles leading the line
Wolves have had a settled side in recent weeks, but may have to make some changes to freshen things up after this defeat. Raul Jimenez was barely involved in attack before being hooked for Cavaleiro, and has not scored for over a month. Meanwhile, star man Ruben Neves failed to create a single chance and Patricio conceded twice from just three shots on target.
Key Opta stats:
- This was Wolves' first loss for 15 games in all competitions at Molineux since losing against Nottingham Forest in the Championship in January.
- Watford have won two of their last four away games in the Premier League (D1 L1), more than had in their previous 16 games combined (W1 D2 L13).
- Wolves are the first Premier League team to name the same starting XI in nine consecutive games since Burnley in February 2015.
- Pereyra's strike was his first away league goal for Watford since scoring against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in October 2017 – each of his previous seven goals had been at Vicarage Road.
Wolves will hope to bounce back when they travel to Brighton & Hove Albion in the Premier League next Saturday afternoon (Sunday morning AEDT), which is also when Watford host struggling Huddersfield Town. With games against Newcastle United and Southampton to follow for Watford, Gracia will fancy his chances of putting a run together.