Reds respond to Manchester United defeat with a five star showing against Watford at Anfield…
Liverpool made light work of both the unseasonably wintery conditions and opponents Watford to move back up to third in the Premier League standings on Saturday.
The 5-0 victory, and the performance that produced it, provided the perfect response after the Merseysiders had suffered their fourth defeat of the campaign to rivals and fellow top four protagonists Manchester United last weekend.
The hosts took the lead within four minutes of kick-off when top scorer Mohamed Salah poked home with his right foot after a drop of the shoulder had left Miguel Britos in a heap.
It was the worse possible start for a side without a win on their travels in the Premier League since November and for a period it seemed only a matter of time before further goals would follow.
They didn’t initially however, and Liverpool were forced into a reshuffle shortly before the half-hour mark when Emre Can hobbled off with what looked like a back problem, to be replaced by James Milner.
Although no longer permanently under the cosh, Watford, bar some neat bits of skill from Roberto Pereyra, were still offering little in an attacking sense as the half wore on, despite some sloppy moments from the men in red occasionally handing them possession in dangerous areas.
Richarlison did find the target with a header but it was comfortable for Loris Karius and eventually Liverpool rediscovered their poise and purpose in the closing minutes of the half.
Shortly after Roberto Firmino had tested visiting keeper Orestis Karnezis, Salah notched his second of the evening, again with his weaker right foot, as a delightful cross by left-back Andrew Robertson picked him out at the back post.
The goal means the 25-year-old has now scored more goals in a debut season for Liverpool than anyone else in the club’s long and distinguished history.
The Merseysiders continued where they had left off at the start of the second half with Salah turning provider when Firmino improvised a delightful flick past Karnezis.
Pereyra almost delivered an instant riposte for Watford but his excellent curling free-kick struck the top of the bar and went over.
Both teams were being positive at this stage and consequently the play became increasingly open, which was only to Liverpool’s benefit.
The Champions League quarter-finalists found the net again in the 77th minute as Salah showed great patience to work some space and complete his first hat-trick in English football, a feat no Egyptian had previously achieved in England’s top-flight.
Remarkably it was the seventh time Jürgen Klopp‘s side had managed at least four goals in a Premier League encounter this term and they weren’t done just yet.
Karnezis twice denied substitute Danny Ings in the closing stages but the on-loan Greek failed to hold the second effort and the loose ball was inevitably swept home by the irrepressible Salah.
The four-goal haul means the former Chelsea attacker is now the outright leading goalscorer in Europe’s top five leagues – pulling clear of the likes of Tottenham Hotspur’s Harry Kane and Barcelona’s Lionel Messi.
More goals could easily have followed as Liverpool, who defeated Watford 6-1 in the corresponding fixture last season, continued to press, but come the final whistle they were more than content with a second successive five-goal success over the Hornets.
Discussing the match, and in particular the contribution of Salah, Klopp told his post-match press conference: “It was another good performance in a very difficult game in a very impressive manner, coping and dealing with difficult conditions tonight.
“The whole team did well, of course, but around the first goal I would say Mo especially because it was obviously slippery, so everybody suffered – but not Mo in that situation. It was really special scoring that goal.
“The second goal, a fantastic pass from Sadio to Robbo, a fantastic cross and great sprint. Third goal, fantastic situation, Mo and then Roberto. Fourth and fifth goals were outstanding, so that’s all you need to be on the highest level.
“I am really happy about the result, of course, but also the performance because I knew after we made the analysis of the last Watford game, against Arsenal, how difficult it can be [to play them].
“They lost that game 3-0 but it was so close, football games can go like this, but in the end we rarely saw what could happen tonight if we let them do what they wanted to do. And we didn’t in very difficult circumstances, so I’m really happy.”
There is now a two week international break with Liverpool next in action away to Crystal Palace at 12.30pm BST on Saturday March 31.
So that’s what both we and Klopp thought about the game, how about you? Let us know your views below…
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