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Matchday Review

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Mon 16 Sep At 08.09 AM

Highlights | Watford 3-3 Liverpool

  • Okaka and Doucouré goals either side of a Mane equaliser give Watford half-time lead
  • Firmino and Salah turn around for Reds
  • Britos bundles home late equaliser for the Hornets

Marco Silva said he was looking to form a connection with the Vicarage Road fans ahead of Liverpool's visit, and the process got off to the ideal start with today’s thrilling 3-3 draw against Liverpool at The Vic. 

First-half goals from Stefano Okaka and Abdoulaye Doucouré either side of a Sadio Mané leveller allowed the home fans to believe a shock opening day result was possible.  

And a late, late equaliser from Miguel Britos gutted Jurgen Klopp’s men, who had looked on their way to an opening day victory courtesy of second-half goals from Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah. 

The atmosphere before kick-off was one of loud yellow optimism, all slates rubbed clean in the eyes of the home faithful ahead of another new era for the Hornets. 

Silva handed Nathaniel Chalobah his second debut in Watford colours, while Roberto Pereyra made his first Premier League appearance after almost eight months out injured. 

New boys Richarlison, Andre Gray and Kiko Femenía began on the bench, but would all be called upon over the course of the game. 

Liverpool presented a familiar starting XI, albeit with Philippe Coutinho absent from the squad and Trent Alexander-Arnold stepping in at right-back.

Silva’s men took the game to the visitors, with the home fans roaring at their back. 

A good interception led to a quick break, Okaka slotting through to Pereyra, whose shot was pushed wide by Simon Mignolet.

The resulting corner led the opener. Jose Holebas’ devilish corner met by the bull-like Okaka, who stooped and forced the ball home via head, shoulder and Mignolet’s flailing hand.

The ‘Orns looked comfortable, but it was Liverpool who struck next. A cute one-two between Mané and Emre Can on the edge of the Hornets’ box set the winger up one-on-one with Gomes, and he made no mistake as he curled it into the top right corner.

But before the Reds had time to revel in their goal, the Hornets were back in front.

Nordin Amrabat did well to lay it off to Okaka, who slid the ball to Tom Cleverley to cross. Blocked initially, Doucoure was free to guide the ball in. 

Having seen Daryl Janmaat hobble off before the break, Silva would have been frustrated to then watch on as Pereyra suffered the same luck just after half-time. Richarlison, who would go on to provide the winning assist, came on for his debut. 

Ten minutes into the half Heurelho Gomes felled Salah in the box to allow Firmino a free hit from the spot, and the Brazilian’s successful penalty was followed up two minutes later by a tap-in for Salah. 

Record signing Gray was soon involved as Silva searched for a point, replacing goalscorer Okaka just after the hour. 

And after a couple of close shaves in the Watford box, the Hornets earned their point - Richarlison’s dug-out effort tipped onto the bar by Mignolet, Britos in the right place to bundle the ball home for 3-3. 

HORNETS: Gomes (GK) (C); Janmaat (Femenía, 18), Kaboul, Britos, Holebas; Chalobah, Doucouré; Amrabat, Cleverley, Pereyra (Richarlison, 49); Okaka (Gray, 63).

Subs: Pantilimon (GK), Capoue, Watson, Prödl. 

REDS: Mignolet (GK); Alexander-Arnold (Gomez, 90+1), Matip, Lovren, Moreno; Can, Henderson (C), Wijnaldum; Salah (Milner, 86), Mané; Firmino (Origi, 81).

Subs: Karius (GK), Grujic, Klavan, Solanke. 

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