Mohamed Salah scored a brace as Liverpool extended their winning run in the Premier League to eight matches with a narrow and nervous victory over bottom side Watford at Anfield.
Salah gave Liverpool the lead with the their first shot on target on 38 minutes, curling his effort into the top corner to make the score 1-0.
Jurgen Klopp’s side were far from their best and despite a number of Watford chances throughout the game, the home side claimed all three points when Salah flicked the ball home from close range to make the score 2-0 with a minute to go in the match.
Bottom side Watford came into the game against top of the league Liverpool, without a win in four Premier League games. New boss Nigel Pearson with possibly the toughest test in his first game in charge of the Hornets.
And it was Watford who had the first chance to take the lead in the match. A dangerous ball into the penalty area from Ismaila Sarr was almost touched in by Troy Deeney from just a couple of yards out. The striker failing to make any connection on the ball though.
Watford were ensuring they were tight and hard to break-down when Liverpool were in possession and the home side had to be patient while trying to find openings on goal.
It took 23 minutes for either side to have a shot on goal. It came the way of Liverpool but Jordan Henderson fired well over the top of the crossbar when well placed.
Watford were next to have a go at breaking the deadlock. Will Hughes tried his luck from range on the break, but dragged a tame shot wide.
Suddenly the game had come alive, with three shots in the space of a minute. Sadio Mane’s acrobatic effort from just inside the Watford penalty area sailed over the bar as well.
The Liverpool fans were starting to become frustrated with Watford’s defensive tactics and slow restart of play, with boos ringing around Anfield every time Hornets’ goalkeeper Ben Foster waited to take a goal kick.
Watford had a glorious chance to open the scoring with under 10 minutes left to play in the half, Abdoulaye Doucoure was well placed inside the Liverpool penalty area, but fluffed his lines with a miss-hit first time shot that went for a corner.
From a resulting poor corner Liverpool took the lead with their first shot on target. The Reds broke with pace and purpose as the Watford players tried to catch up with them. Salah turned onto his right foot and curled the ball into the top corner past and the unmoved Foster.
Watford were still looking dangerous and Sarr should have equalised for the away side. From just a couple of yards out the 21-year-old completely mis-hit the ball when it looked easier to score.
1-0 the half-time score, but Liverpool far from their fluent best.
Watford started the second half on top. Liverpool were uncharacteristically sloppy in possession and Sarr almost punished Jurgen Klopp’s side with a shot from a narrow angle after some good work down the right side of the pitch.
But just moments later Liverpool thought they had doubled their lead. Sadio Mane expertly placed a flicked header into the top corner after a Xherdan Shaqiri cross into the penalty area, but a VAR check decided The Senegalese striker was marginally offside, despite the goal being given on the pitch.
The away side were relieved and had another fantastic chance on goal to find the equaliser, this time it was wasted by Gerard Deulofeu. The Spaniard’s shot was straight at Alisson who came out well to block the shot.
Liverpool were starting to dominate the match. Salah managed to get himself in a couple of good positions but was unable to find the target with either as the game opened up.
As the game entered the final ten minutes Watford were still searching for an equalising goal after an impressive performance that included a number of clear cut chances to get something from the game.
The home side were looking nervous defensively, and a series of mistakes led to a Watford corner after a poor pass back from Virgil Van Dijk almost gifted Watford the goal they craved.
The resulting corner from Deulofeu directly struck the post as Alisson scrambled across his goal. Liverpool survived, but the crowd were on the backs of the Liverpool players.
With just a minute to go Liverpool secured the three points. On the break, Mane’s low ball across the penalty area was miss-hit by Divock Origi into the path of Salah, who audaciously flicked the ball into the back of the net from just a yard out for his and Liverpool’s second of the game.
The Reds taking the 2-0 win to continue their incredible start to the Premier League season.
Next up for Klopp’s side is Aston Villa in the Carabao Cup quarter final on Tuesday, and a trip to Qatar for the Club World Cup just a day later.
Watford stay bottom of the division but will be pleased with a much improved performance. They face Manchester United on the 22nd of December.
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