Lucas Digne’s injury-time free-kick earned Everton a point and denied Watford what would have been a sweet victory over former manager Marco Silva.
Silva was sacked by Watford last season after an approach by Everton earlier in the campaign and the two clubs are still in dispute over the Portuguese boss.
And Watford were on the brink of a deserved three points until France full-back Digne stepped up to send a perfect free-kick beyond Watford goalkeeper Ben Foster with only seconds left.
Everton received the perfect start when another former Watford man, Richarlison, gave them an early lead – although the goal had a large slice of good fortune as Theo Walcott should have been given offside in the build-up.
Watford were a threat all night and they capped a fine start to the second half with a 63rd-minute leveller when Roberto Pereyra’s shot hit the post and rebounded in off Seamus Coleman.
They struck again two minutes later when the outstanding Abdoulaye Doucoure rose above Coleman at the far post to beat Jordan Pickford.
Everton were flat throughout, their display summed up when they were awarded a penalty moments after Doucoure’s goal when Christian Kabasele fouled Yerry Mina, only for Foster to save Gylfi Sigurdsson’s tame penalty.
Watford were holding on in relative comfort during six minutes of injury time until Digne’s crucial last-ditch intervention.
Watford so close to sweet victory
The sight of Watford players slumped on the turf as referee Kevin Friend blew the final whistle summed up the scale of their disappointment.
This game was played out against the backdrop of Silva’s eventual departure from Vicarage Road last season, which came after Watford warned off Everton in the strongest terms, after they had made an approach for the man who is now in charge at Goodison Park.
Watford’s travelling fans made their displeasure known throughout with Silva the target for some colourful abuse.
And their mood not improved when former striker Richarlison thumped a 15th-minute finish past Foster even though Walcott was clearly offside before Andre Gomes delivered the key pass.
The response of Javi Gracia’s side said much about their character as they were a constant threat against a lack-lustre Everton.
It was no surprise when they equalised and they looked to be defending their lead with few alarms, Sigurdsson’s penalty and a few scrambles apart, before Digne’s fine free-kick.
Watford look well organised under Gracia and Troy Deeney’s physical approach, as well as their ability to be first to so many second balls, took them to within seconds of a win few would have begrudged them.
Late show cannot disguise Everton’s disappointment
Everton won plaudits for the manner of their approach and performance after they lost to Divock Origi’s 96th-minute winner in the Merseyside derby at Liverpool – but they have since delivered two poor performances at Goodison Park.
Silva’s side, who would have gone sixth with victory, laboured throughout and were somewhat fortunate to be rescued by Digne at the death.
It was a second successive draw after deadlock against Newcastle United here, which leaves Everton with two points from matches from which they might have expected a maximum return.
Silva’s side are currently too reliant on Richarlison for goals and they failed to capitalise on his early strike, relinquishing the initiative too easily to a Watford side only too happy to accept the invitation.
Walcott remains a frustrating figure, too often failing to provide end product and now looks low on confidence, while the likes of Cenk Tosun and Dominic Calvert-Lewin have not proved to be reliable goalscorers to augment the excellent Richarlison.
In the end they were happy to grab at the lifeline offered by Digne’s late intervention, but if they are to build on the atmosphere and optimism that has accompanied them for much of this season, they have to perform better than this.
Man of the match – Abdoulaye Doucoure (Watford)
‘If VAR was ready today the result would be different’- what they said
Watford manager Javi Gracia to BBC Radio 5 live: “It’s difficult to accept because in the second half we dominated. To concede in the last minute is tough to accept but we’ll continue in the same way with the same attitude.
“Only some difficult decisions to accept changed the game in the first half. After that the team was confident playing the same way.”
On Everton’s offside goal and Yerry Mina not being sent off: “I prefer not to say anything about the referees. If VAR was ready today the result would have been different. I’m very proud of my players.”
Everton boss Marco Silva to BBC Radio 5 live: “We lost our focus completely [for Watford’s goals]. Those two moments were not too special.”
Will Sigurdsson continue to take penalties?“Let’s see what we can do and analyse the match. Gylfi is scoring many goals for us. He has all our support.”
On Lucas Digne’s goal: “You have good kickers. They work really strong. It showed personality and character to take that free-kick when people might have expected Gylfi. It’s a very good goal.”
Watford’s woe at Goodison endures – the stats
- 13 of the last 14 goals scored in Premier League clashes between Everton and Watford have come in the second half.
- Watford remain winless in all 13 of their league trips to Goodison Park against Everton (W0 D2 L11).
- Only Burnley (nine) have conceded more Premier League goals in the 90th minute or later since the start of 2017-18 than Watford (eight – level with Southampton and West Ham).
- There were just two minutes and 10 seconds between Watford’s two goals in this game.
- At 19 years and 22 days, Domingos Quina is the second-youngest player ever to start a Premier League game for Watford after Al Bangura in December 2006 v Reading (18y 319d).
- Everton’s Richarlison is the fourth different player to both score a Premier League goal both for and against Watford, after Ashley Young, Heidar Helguson and Daryl Janmaat.
- Everton full-back Seamus Coleman has scored two own-goals in his last three Premier League appearances against Watford.
- Everton playmaker Gylfi Sigurdsson has failed to convert two of his last three Premier League penalties as an Everton player, after scoring each of the six before that whilst at Swansea City.
- Lucas Digne’s equaliser for Everton was the second-latest goal in the Premier League this season at 95:08, behind only Ross Barkley’s strike for Chelsea against Manchester United in October (95:27).
Everton travel to Manchester City in their next Premier League outing on Saturday, 15 December (12:30 GMT), while Watford host Cardiff on the same day (15:00 GMT).
Match ends, Everton 2, Watford 2.
Second Half ends, Everton 2, Watford 2.
Attempt missed. Roberto Pereyra (Watford) right footed shot from the right side of the box misses to the left. Assisted by Gerard Deulofeu following a fast break.
Goal! Everton 2, Watford 2. Lucas Digne (Everton) from a free kick with a left footed shot to the top left corner.
Hand ball by Christian Kabasele (Watford).
Offside, Watford. Nathaniel Chalobah tries a through ball, but Gerard Deulofeu is caught offside.
Substitution, Watford. Adrian Mariappa replaces Domingos Quina because of an injury.
Foul by Cenk Tosun (Everton).
Abdoulaye Doucouré (Watford) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Corner, Everton. Conceded by Craig Cathcart.
Attempt blocked. Richarlison (Everton) left footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Lucas Digne with a cross.
Corner, Everton. Conceded by Gerard Deulofeu.
André Gomes (Everton) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Troy Deeney (Watford).
Attempt saved. Gylfi Sigurdsson (Everton) header from the centre of the box is saved in the top right corner. Assisted by Seamus Coleman with a cross.
Corner, Everton. Conceded by José Holebas.
Cenk Tosun (Everton) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Domingos Quina (Watford).
Corner, Watford. Conceded by Yerry Mina.
Foul by André Gomes (Everton).
Nathaniel Chalobah (Watford) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Nathaniel Chalobah (Watford) is shown the yellow card.
Corner, Watford. Conceded by André Gomes.
Attempt missed. Gylfi Sigurdsson (Everton) right footed shot from the centre of the box misses to the right.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin (Everton) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Foul by José Holebas (Watford).
Substitution, Watford. Nathaniel Chalobah replaces Isaac Success.
Offside, Everton. Cenk Tosun tries a through ball, but Richarlison is caught offside.
Gylfi Sigurdsson (Everton) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Roberto Pereyra (Watford).
Substitution, Everton. Cenk Tosun replaces Idrissa Gueye.
Attempt missed. Gylfi Sigurdsson (Everton) left footed shot from the centre of the box misses to the left. Assisted by Seamus Coleman.
Yerry Mina (Everton) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Isaac Success (Watford).
Dominic Calvert-Lewin (Everton) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Foul by Christian Kabasele (Watford).
Penalty saved! Gylfi Sigurdsson (Everton) fails to capitalise on this great opportunity, right footed shot saved in the centre of the goal.
Christian Kabasele (Watford) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Penalty Everton. Yerry Mina draws a foul in the penalty area.
Penalty conceded by Christian Kabasele (Watford) after a foul in the penalty area.