Middlesbrough boss Tony Mowbray believes his side were the architects of their own downfall in a damaging 2-1 defeat at home to Watford.
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Boro dominated the first half but spurned some good chances then gifted Watford an opener seconds before the break as skipper Rhys Williams chested down a cross in the box for Matej Vydra to pounce and stab home.
In the second half, as Boro chased the game, the lively Czech striker scored another on the break before Scott McDonald clawed back a stoppage-time consolation.
"We beat ourselves really," said Mowbray. "We were well on top in the first half and our game plan was working just as we planned but we just couldn't score the goal we needed and then found ourselves behind.
"We dominated the first 45 minutes in terms of possession and maybe 90% of the game was played in their half - and we had some really good chances but didn't make them count.
"But then they scored and that changed the game completely. We had to throw caution to the wind and commit men forward and empty the midfield and against Watford that is always a risk.
"They are the best team in this division in that situation and as we pushed forward they punished us. We learned a lesson today."
Watford boss Gianfranco Zola admitted the opening goal had come against the run of play but praise his side's second-half display.
"The first goal was a present from them," he confessed. "We probably didn't deserve to be leading at that point.
"They were the better side in the first half. They had a lot of chances but didn't take them.
"But in the second half we were excellent, as a team and as individuals. We stepped up a level and were much more positive. Everybody was much more tuned in.
"I took a lot of pleasure from the performance
because they are a good side and we beat them in their own stadium.
"But we are not perfect, letting a goal in late on showed that. We have to keep working."
Boro started brightly and Lukas Jutkiewicz had an early effort deflected over before McDonald fired straight at the keeper.
And Boro should have taken the lead on 37 minutes as Jutkiewicz sent Josh McEachran free into the box but with the goal gaping, he checked inside for a better angle and that gave defender Lloyd Doyley the chance to stretch in and get in a blocking tackle.
But in first-half stoppage time Watford scored with their first real chance as Marco Casetti crossed, Williams chested back to keeper Jason Steele and when it fell short, Vydra nipped in to stab home gratefully.
After the break Boro threw men forward and McDonald, Emmanuel Ledesma and substitute Adam Reach all fired a fraction wide.
But Watford looked sharp on the break and Vydra twice almost caught them cold before plundering his second on 83 minutes, racing through a static defence to fire under Steele.
Boro got a consolation deep into stoppage time when Reach crossed in from wide on the left for McDonald to head in from close range.