BY MAX HALL
Shorn of injured star man Wilfried Zaha, Crystal Palace were unable to exploit the blustery conditions as well as their hosts as Eagles manager Roy Hodgson’s FA Cup quarter-final hoodoo continued.
Watford had the first clear opportunity, when Gerard Deulofeu got behind the Palace defence to the right of Vicente Guaita’s box and drew a block from the keeper in the 17thminute.
And the hosts were ahead 10 minutes later when Guaita came for and failed to claim a corner that moved in the wind for the second time in a matter of minutes and the ball broke for Étienne Capoue to rifle into the roof of an unguarded net.
Deulofeu then drew a flying near-post tip-over from the Palace keeper as the Hornets pressed and tested him again with a free-kick in the 38thminute.
Palace finally stretched Heurelho Gomes in the home goal four minutes after the break, when a Max Meyer header from an Andros Townsend corner almost caught out the Brazilian, and Townsend forced Gomes to tip over a fierce free-kick 10 minutes later.
And the Eagles were level in the 62ndminute when Michy Batshuayi mugged former Palace defender Adrian Mariappa as he tried to play his way out of defence and advanced on goal before firing across Gomes.
Roberto Pereyra was denied by Guaita in the 74thminute and Abdoulaye Doucouré fired the rebound over as Palace midfielder Luka Milivojevic lay rolling in the turf after an elbow in the ribs from Deulofeu that went unnoticed by the officials.
Watford substitute Andre Gray made it 2-1 in the 79thminute with virtually his first touch, running on to a lobbed Pereyra ball through the heart of the Palace defence to finish deftly past Guaita.
Deulofeu almost snatched a third seven minutes from time, after Guaita spilled a Troy Deeney shot but Aaron Wan-Bissaka made a goal-saving intervention.
Wan-Bissaka had a late, late chance as Palace charged upfield deep into injury time but flashed his shot narrowly wide.
Watford (4-4-2): Gomes, Femenía, Mariappa, Cathcart, Holebas (Masina HT), Hughes (Gray, 77), Doucouré, Capoue, Pereyra, Deeney, Deulofeu (Cleverley, 88). Subs not used: Dahlberg, Janmaat, Success, Kabasele.
Palace (4-5-1): Guaita, Wan-Bissaka, Tomkins, Kelly, Schlupp, McArthur (Benteke, 83), Kouyaté, Meyer, Milivojevic, Townsend, Batshuayi. Subs not used: Hennessey, Ward, Ayew, Wickham, Woods, Riedewald.