Match Report: Liverpool 5-0 Watford
For the third season running, Watford left Anfield with nothing but a bruised ego and a damaged goal difference for their troubles.
Having shipped six and five in their last two visits, another heavy defeat was always on the cards once the Hornets fell behind as early as the ninth minute to a Sadio Mané header, and so it transpired.
Mané added a second shortly after, then three goals in the space of 16 second half minutes – one from Divock Origi and two by Virgil van Dijk – condemned the Golden Boys to a 5-0 loss that the 1,000 or so travelling supporters will be keen to wipe from the memory.
Fewer than 10 minutes were on the clock when the deadlock was broken, and rather ominously for the Hornets it was Liverpool who gained the initiative.
Trent Alexander-Arnold’s cross from the right-hand side was as inviting as it was inch-perfect and Mané – who had positioned himself between centre-halves Craig Cathcart and Adrian Mariappa – placed a strong header inside Ben Foster’s back post.
Watford must be sick of the sight of Mo Salah – who had scored six in his three meetings against the Hornets prior to tonight – and the Egyptian’s tricky run into the area was the catalyst for Liverpool’s second on 20 minutes. Alexander-Arnold once again was the provider, Mané recovering from a loose first touch before back-heeling home in what seemed like acres of space 10 yards out.
It might have been three, had Salah’s close-range effort not rebounded off the post – via the glove of Foster – after the 2018 Player of the Year wriggled the wrong side of Cathcart.
By the same token, the Golden Boys couldn’t have come much closer to halving their deficit just minutes before the break. Troy Deeney escaped from the usually attentive van Dijk and flicked Gerard Deulofeu’s centre marginally wide.
Cathcart’s well-struck shot earned Watford a corner early in the second period, taking a crucial deflection on its way behind just as Alisson looked like he’d be severely tested, but in truth the hosts always seemed more likely to add to their tally.
Mané controlled, turned and saw his effort blocked by Cathcart, then Foster made a routine save from Wijnaldum’s long-range effort, but you got the sense a third was just around the corner.
And it was. Origi cut inside Janmaat and onto his right foot, nestling a low shot into the near corner from inside the box. Surely game over.
Javi Gracia’s side showed some heart, creating two chances through substitute Andre Gray – the first an angled shot which was palmed away by Alisson’s outstretched arm, the second a more central effort tipped over by the Brazilian keeper.
But things were to get worse as van Dijk twice headed past Foster in the space of three minutes – crosses supplied from either flank by Alexander-Arnold and Andrew Robertson – to add some gloss to Liverpool’s score.
As another painful visit to Merseyside drew to a close, Watford’s players to a man approached the away end to express their appreciation to those travelling fans who’d made the arduous midweek trip north.
They’ll be keen to repay their support when Leicester visit The Vic on Sunday.
HORNETS: Foster (GK); Janmaat, Mariappa, Cathcart, Masina; Hughes, Doucouré, Capoue, Pereyra (Sema, 83); Deulofeu (Cleverley, 73), Deeney (C) (Gray, 73).
Subs not used: Gomes (GK), Kabasele, Navarro, Quina.
REDS: Alisson (GK); Alexander-Arnold, van Dijk, Matip, Robertson; Fabinho, Wijnaldum (Keita, 83), Milner (C) (Henderson, 69); Salah, Mané (Lallana, 78), Origi.
Subs not used: Mignolet (GK), Camacho, Shaqiri, Sturridge.