Watford failed to live up to their status as the best of the teams chasing Reading and Sheffield United in the Championship as they contributed heavily to their own downfall at Turf Moor.
Burnley revived their own play-off hopes by moving to eighth place on the strength of two bursts of activity towards the end of each half.
The game came to life after 32 minutes when Graham Branch cut in from the left and scored. Watford's players had been expecting him to cross. Ben Foster, Watford's goalkeeper on loan from Manchester United, brought about Burnley's second goal three minutes before the break after wandering outside his area holding the ball. He escaped a booking, but there was still a punishment: Jon Harley scored from the free-kick.
Watford adopted a more enterprising 4-4-2 formation after the break, but still seemed to pose little real threat until Marlon King, their top scorer, found the net from outside the box.
There was then a brief prospect of a Watford fightback, during which Brian Jensen made an important save from Matthew Spring's header, but the Clarets always looked the more purposeful side. They made the game safe after 77 minutes when Foster brought down Branch and Harley converted the penalty for his second goal. Two minutes later, Watford were wide open as James O'Connor went clear to score his side's fourth.
"When we lose, we lose big," Adrian Boothroyd, Watford's manager, said. "We contributed to our own downfall." For Burnley, this win was the perfect way to bounce back after a heavy defeat against Sheffield United last weekend. "We needed to put in a performance on the back of last week and we did that," Steve Cotterill, the manager, said.Reuse content