Ryan Shawcross struck a hammer-blow in the third minute of additional time at the end of the first-half to send the Potters into the break ahead.
The Hornets came out with intent, but found themselves two behind four minutes after the restart when Peter Crouch hit home Charlie Adam’s cross.
Several Watford players impressed in defeat, but some did not, take a look at our player ratings below.
Mixed ratings for back line
Heurelho Gomes (7/10) – One of the bright sparks in defeat, made a few good saves, including the one from Jonathan Walters to deny, what would have been, Stoke’s third goal.
Younes Kaboul (6/10) – Playing in a three-man back line, Kaboul played better in the second-half, showing his strength and bouncing back from a poor performance against Spurs.
Sebastian Prodl (5/10) – Player at fault for Stoke’s second goal, looked shaky in recent weeks, but could have had a goal in the second-half when he glances inches wide.
Miguel Britos (6/10) – Was given a hard time by Crouch and Walters in the game, and was the strongest of the Watford back line against the Potters.
Christian Kabasele (5/10) – The Belgian played wing-back, but also joined in with the forward line at times, but Marko Arnautovic caused him problems in the game.
Behrami gamble doesn’t pay off
Valon Behrami (5/10) – Mazzarri took a risk playing the Swiss international, and came off at half-time after pulling up just before the break.
Adlene Guedioura (5/10) – Not the greatest of nights for the midfielder, caught in possession several times and is now away to the African Cup of Nations.
Etienne Capoue (5/10) – The midfielder had quietened down in recent months after a fantastic start to the season, and his performance against Stoke epitomised that.
Jose Holebas (5/10) – Reverse pass into Doucoure in the first-half was sublime, but his opposite number gave him trouble through the game.
Doucoure Watford’s Man of the Match
Abdoulaye Doucoure (8/10) – Watford’s best player, he caused a threat going forward, came close to scoring and has gave Mazzarri thoughts to keep him in the starting XI.
Troy Deeney (6/10) – Played as a lone striker with Doucoure in behind, and looked a lone warrior at times, and the skipper helped by tracking back too.
Substitutes fail to make impact
Odion Ighalo (4/10) – Came on in place of Behrami at half-time, but failed to make an impact and his late mis-kick summed up his game.
Jerome Sinclair (5/10) – Had a chance cleared off the line late on, but the youngster is also starting to get more game time under Mazzarri.
Michael Folivi (5/10) – The academy graduate came on around the hour mark to replace Prodl, and showed strength and passion in his time on the pitch.