Mohamed Salah produces another genius moment as Liverpool beat Watford 5-0

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Mohamed Salah produces another genius moment as Liverpool put five past Watford - live reaction - Getty Images
Mohamed Salah produces another genius moment as Liverpool put five past Watford - live reaction - Getty Images
  • Salah scores solo goal to rival Man City strike and provides outside of the foot assist

  • Roberto Firmino bags hat-trick as Jurgen Klopp's team go top

  • Dismal start for new Watford manager Claudio Ranieri

He has done it again. For the eighth Liverpool game on the bounce, Mo Salah scored. And each one seems to be better than the last. Which, after his Messi-like wonder goal against Manchester City an fortnight ago, might seem improbable. But here he was at it again, dancing past defenders as if they were traffic cones. Sure, given it was the fourth goal in as one-sided a rout as can be imagined it may not count as the most important of his career. But as a strike it was a moment to savour, a moment of impudence, a moment of magic.

Picking up the ball in the Watford area, he jinked and faded, tricked and feinted, beating three men as he danced, sending poor Craig Cathcart sprawling haplessly across the turf, before stroking the ball into the net. No wonder his manager Jurgen Klopp was moved to suggest after the game that Salah is now the best player in the world: few can currently match his ability to marry ambition with delivery.

“The goal was very special, he is that kind of player who can do this kind of things. It is good for us,” said Klopp. “You could see how the team celebrated the goal that everybody realised it was something special immediately.”

It wasn’t just the Liverpool players acknowledging Salah’s strike. This was a goal of such magnificence, even the Watford fans were moved to applaud.

Mind, they hadn’t had much else to enjoy. What a woeful introduction this was for their new manager. The tinker man might have finally arrived at the tinker club, but it must have dawned on Claudio Ranieri the moment this game got underway that the task required now he has taken control of his fourth Premier League side may be beyond a bit of tinkering. As he watched from the edge of his technical area, occasionally semaphoring futile instruction, Watford were frankly awful.

“For a new manager, a first game against one of the best teams in the world, it is never easy,” said Rainieri. “I am a very positive man. I watch the players and I know now what we have to do. Now we have to improve everything.”

That might be the understatement of the season. Though the central question of this encounter was this: were his team a shambles because Liverpool were so slick and efficient, or were Liverpool able to dominate because Watford were such an exemplar of nervy panic? Whatever the root cause, rarely in the Premier League is such dominance encountered. The Liverpool fans must have gone back to Merseyside with sore palms from the amount of applause they got through, acknowledging the excellence of their side. From Virgil Van Dijk, smooth and unflustered at the back, through the veteran midfield pairing of Jordan Henderson and James Milner, to Salah up front, everywhere they were at ease, everywhere were they in control, everywhere they were brilliant.

Salah, inevitably, started things off after just nine minutes, spinning Danny Rose like a top before bending an invitation of a cross behind the Watford centre backs into Sadio Mane’s path. The striker’s finish, to secure his hundreth Premier League goal, was perfect.

“You don’t have to talk about Sadio’s quality,” said a delighted Klopp. “He is another one who is world class.”

Roberto Firmino scores for Liverpool 0-3 - Alan Cozzi
Roberto Firmino scores for Liverpool 0-3 - Alan Cozzi

The second Liverpool goal was no less glorious. After picking up the ball from Andy Robertson Milner ran, as he does, hard at the Watford midfield. Noone seemed to recognise the danger and on the edge of the area he played a pass into Mane and kept on running, Mane gave a sublime reverse pass into his path and by now in the clear, he pulled the ball across the line for Roberto Firmino to score with delighted ease. On the touchline Klopp raised his arms in triumph. And no wonder. He may complain about never having enough time on the training ground with his players, but that was one straight from the playbook.

For Watford, Moussa Sissoko did his best to disrupt the flow, but was chasing shadows. The most the home side managed were a couple of breakaways involving Ismaila Sarr, that generally petered out in the wave of the assistant’s flag. Plus a late strike from the substitute Joao Pedro that hit the bar. Sure, it didn’t help that Ranieri had decided to play Danny Rose as a left sided centre back and pushed Sarr into the middle instead of allowing him to attack Robertson down the right as he had to such effect when Watford beat Liverpool here two seasons ago. But frankly, with Liverpool in this mood, a brick wall across the goal line would have proved insufficient deterrent.

Watford's Jeremy Ngakia and Moussa Sissoko after the match  - Reuters
Watford's Jeremy Ngakia and Moussa Sissoko after the match - Reuters

Such was Liverpool’s dominance, a third goal was inevitable. And it came early in the second half when the ball was played out to Robertson with a speed and precision that caught catch the Watford defenders once more on their heels. His cross fizzed across the box, before Cathcart slid in to prevent it arriving at the feet of Salah. Ben Foster did well to save his deflection, but the ball rebounded to Firmino who joyfully popped away his second.

If Watford thought that was the limit of their misery, Salah then intervened to joyously score a fourth. And still, it was not over. Firmino scored with the last kick of the game, when he arrived unnoticed and uncontested at the far post to convert the substitute Neco Williams’s cross and complete a hat trick of tap ins. Not that any Liverpool supporter will worry: tap ins count just as much as wonder goals. And right now their side can deliver either apparently at will.

As it happened

01:45 PM

Final thoughts

Liverpool look the most cohesive and productive attack in the country - if they can keep their first XI fit for most of the season they will go close to the title. Already, as ridiculous as it sounds, it would not be a huge surprise if Ranieri did not last the season at Watford. They looked devoid in every department.

01:40 PM

Ranieri speaks

When I came I knew we had to work very hard. We conceded some goals that were presents to them which they don't need. But we can improve and we need to improve.

Now I know better my players.

01:36 PM

Salah on whether he is in the form of his life

"I don't know. Sometimes I don't have the luck to score goals but I am always trying 100% to help the team. I am confident at the moment, helping the team win points which is the most important thing."

01:35 PM

Salah on his goal

"I didn't watch back it yet. Last game (against Man City) maybe (was better). I don't know which one was better.

"I was in the box trying to find someone or score myself. It is all about the team. that is the most important thing."

01:34 PM

Harsh from Klopp, but fair

They actually started playing after we scored the fourth, it makes not too much sense.

01:32 PM

Unwanted history for Ranieri

01:28 PM

Not a good start for Ranieri

01:19 PM

FT: Watford 0 Liverpool 5

A virtuoso performance from Liverpool and Salah to go top of the league. They were helped on their way by Watford though, who were disorganised and listless. Ranieri already under some pressure - you can lose to Liverpool, but that was abject.

01:18 PM

GOOOOAAAAALL! Firmino has his hat-trick

Back in the team, and back among the goals. It is another tap-in and Liverpool are well worthy of scoring five on this performance. Williams got forward well and he skipped pass the hapless Rose and put it on a plate for Firmino.

01:17 PM

90 minutes

The offside flag goes up against Watford again. Liverpool's back four pushing up the pitch has been a feature of this game.

01:15 PM

88 minutes

More defending for Liverpool do to, but it all feels very academic for Watford. Ngakia has been a positive influence for the home team since coming off the bench.

01:13 PM

86 minutes

Another good cross from Sarr, who has been the only bright spot for Watford, but it is just too high for Hernandez. Then Hernandez cuts inside and sees his shot blocked by Keita.

01:11 PM

85 minutes

Watford have hit the post! Cracking effort from Sarr first time with his right foot after a pull-back from Pedro. It was actually an excellent stop from Kelleher, his first serious piece of work all game.

01:09 PM

82 minutes

Watford pleased to hear the whistle after Tsimikas looked to have robbed Kucka in a dangerous position. James Milner has been subbed, and Neco Williams has come on at right-back for Liverpool.

01:07 PM

80 minutes

Liverpool settling back in their passing rhythm. Mane's header does not have enough power to trouble Foster. Both sets of players are just hoping the clock runs down now. Pedro for Watford is flagged for offside.

01:05 PM

78 minutes

Watford have a corner after Milner defends well up against Sarr who tried to nutmeg him. The corner dropped for Sarr to take a snap shot at the edge of the area but he cannot keep the effort down.

01:03 PM

76 minutes

Watford have started to gain some territory but it is too little too late. Oxlade-Chamberlain lofted a ball over the top to put Salah in a race with Rose and there is only one winner, but his first touch was slightly heavy and it ran through to Foster.

01:00 PM

73 minutes

At last Watford's fans have something to shout about! It was a really good driving run through midfield from Sissoko and he slipped Hernandez in on the left but his curling shot with his right instep drifted right.

12:58 PM

72 minutes

It really should have been five! Rose dallies on the ball and is charged down by Firmino who bends a pass into the penalty area but Mane passed the ball wide from six yards or so. Is this the worst ever performance in a manger's first game in charge?

12:55 PM

70 minutes

Salah has Danny Rose backpeddling into the box again, but lays the ball off for Keita who fires over. Watford making a sub: Pedro comes on for Dennis. Tsimikas bombs forward bu Foster claims the cross at the second attempt.

12:54 PM

68 minutes

Watford finally get half a chance from a knock down via a free-kick pumped into the box but the flag went up for offside. This has been a miserable afternoon for the home team, as one-sided as it gets.

12:51 PM

65 minutes

Klopp giving his full-backs some rest: Alexander-Arnold and Robertson off for Tsimikas and Oxlade-Chamberlain on. Not often you get to rest key players with 25 minutes to go in a Premier League game.

12:49 PM

62 minutes

Kelleher finally gets a touch of the ball in the Liverpool goal. He has been a spectator in this game. So much space in the Watford midfield again for Milner to turn and drive, before Alexander-Arnold's shot deflects inches wide.

12:47 PM

Salah's goal

12:44 PM

58 minutes

What a display from Salah and Liverpool again. Man City are very hard to create chances against, but this Liverpool attack looks the best offensive unit in the country. This could get really messy for Watford.

12:42 PM

GOOOOOAAALLL! Salah might have just bettered his Man City goal

That was like George Best or Lionel Messi at their best. He dances away from three Watford players in the box with the ball on a string, then chops back and sits another down before passing the ball past Foster into the far corner. Salah playing like the best player in the world right now.

12:40 PM

54 minutes

I think that law needs looking at. If Salah is not behind him, Cathcart does not need to make a desperate attempt to clear the ball. If that's not interfering play, I don't know what is.

12:39 PM

GOOOOAAALLL! Firmino has his second

It's a bit of a comedy of errors for Watford. Robertson raids down the left and tries to curl a pass into the pass of Salah who was in an offside position. But the ball did not get to him because Cathcart stuck a leg out, Foster pushed the deflection away and there was Firmino for a tap in. The goal stands.

12:36 PM

50 minutes

Another goal would kill this game off well and truly. Salah collects the ball at the right corner of the box again and his curling shot is tipped wide acrobatically by Foster. Trademark Salah, did not even have to look at the goal.

12:35 PM

47 minutes

Salah tries one of those scooped passes into the box but Femenia heads away. Liverpool have started this half just as they finished the first: in control. Good challenge from Cleverley to defend well against Milner.

12:33 PM

We're back under way!

Straight away Alexander-Anrold gets on to the front foot but he scuffs his shot from range wide.

12:32 PM

Watford sub

Masina has come off, replaced by Tom Cleverley so that means a change of shape with an extra midfielder on.

12:31 PM

It's like Van Dijk was never away

12:24 PM

Quite a stat

12:21 PM

What went wrong for Watford?

Hard to know where to start, but they need to sort their left side out. Starting two left-backs in Rose and Masina was supposed to give them extra protection against Salah and the ability to switch between a back four and a back five, but the pair keep getting their distances wrong. The only hope lies in Sarr producing a moment of brilliance on a breakaway. Liverpool have been impressive again.

12:16 PM

HT: Watford 0 Liverpool 2

Liverpool have scored two delightful goals but that was really worrying for Watford. They are asking for a thumping.

12:15 PM

45 minutes

This has been like a training session for Liverpool. In fact, their 8v8s among themselves are probably more intense and competitive. They have another corner. Milner and Henderson have had it easy in the middle of the park.

12:12 PM

Liverpool's second goal

12:12 PM

42 minutes

Van Dijk does well to sweep up at the back, great composure from the Liverpool centre-half. Lovely chest control from Salah in the build up of another Liverpool attack which leads with Keita's deflected shot from distance skimming off the top of the bar. Liverpool have a corner.

12:10 PM

40 minutes

Sarr does well to hold the ball up on the halfway and at least relieve some of the pressure. The former Rennes winger then wins a foul from Henderson. He is Watford's best player by a country mile.

12:07 PM

GOOOOOAAAAL! Liverpool have the second goal they deserve

Milner feeds Mane and continued his run on the overlap. Rather than shooting, Mane flicked the ball back into his path and Milner squared for Firmino to score a tap in. Easy as you like, that was picture book football. Watford all over the place.

12:06 PM

36 minutes

Watford just cannot get going, any time they get over the halfway line a heavy touch or loose pass lets them down, or else a Liverpool defender just pinches the ball off them.

12:04 PM

33 minutes

Sissoko comes across to help his old mate from Spurs Danny Rose after he found himself isolated against Salah again. The Liverpool man has had him on skates in this first half.

12:01 PM

31 minutes

Alexander-Arnold with a delicious pass with the outside of his foot over the top to Salah. Then Mane and Keita threaten and the ball is turned behind for a corner. They get another one after Kuco deflects the ball behind. Watford finally clear it.

11:59 AM

28 minutes

Moss gives a foul against Mane for a push in the back of Troost-Ekong and the Watford defender will be relieved as the gaps were opening up again. Liverpool always looking dangerous, so much time for players to pick their pass.

11:57 AM

25 minutes

We're back on track after a brief technical blip and Liverpool are still in possession. Watford did have their first meaningful attack after a misplaced Mane backheel. Henderson almost a lofts a pass through to Mane but it is cut out.

11:50 AM

20 minutes

Salah was in again but his touch let him down and Foster was able to hook clear with his feet! It was a great pass from Alexander-Arnold to split the Watford defence. The home team are all over the place at the moment.

11:49 AM

Mane now a Premier League centurion

11:48 AM

Liverpool's stunning goal

11:47 AM

18 minutes

Keita very nearly squeezes a through ball to Firmino but Foster is there to boot clear. Matip and Van Dijk are playing beyond the halfway line at the moment which tells you all you need to know about the game. Watford are just not shifting up when the ball gets passed backwards. They do now have a goal kick.

11:46 AM

16 minutes

Liverpool passing the ball at a great tempo, they look full of confidence. They walk the ball into the Watford penalty area and Mane's cross is deflected into the path of Salah but Rose made a goal-saving block. One-way traffic and the home crowd is getting restless.

11:43 AM

13 minutes

Watford are deep in their half and they cannot escape at the moment. They are trying to go long early but Matip and Van Dijk are chewing those up and spitting them out. Hard to see how Watford change the pattern of this game.

11:41 AM

11 minutes

That was a sensational pass from Salah. Liverpool completely dominant and this is shaping up to be a long afternoon for Watford already. Then Salah gets a shot off after a long ball forward and Foster is at full stretch to push it wide.

11:39 AM

GOOOOAAALLL! Wonderful Liverpool goal

Who says Salah does not provide assists? He has had the beating of Danny Rose since kick off and after spinning into space he faded a pass with the outside of his left behind the retreating Watford defence and it was perfectly weighted for Mane to sweep home first time. Quite brilliant.

11:38 AM

8 minutes

Firmino tries to poke a pass through to Robertson but it runs for a goal kick. Jota has started the last four Liverpool games, but Klopp has gone back to his tried and trusted front three today.

11:36 AM

6 minutes

Watford struggling to string more than a couple of passes together at the moment. Liverpool very much in control. Looks like Raneiri's side are lining up in a 4-4-2 but Masina on the left is a full-back so it can easily shape into a back five.

11:34 AM

4 minutes

Good start from Liverpool. Van Dijk sends a laser-guided diagonal across the pitch to Salah in space down the right. He jinks into the penalty area and Rose deflects his shot over the bar. Watford clear the corner but remain under pressure. Salah then rolls Rose but Sissoko covers well to win a sliding challenge. Another Liverpool corner.

Watford are tall side and they deal with it, before Henderson steps in on Dennis to stop a potential break.

11:31 AM

2 minutes

Good first touch from Hernandez but his pass back towards the Watford defence is loose and Liverpool pounce. In the next phase of the attack, Mane comes back from an offside position but his flick found Salah who crashed a shot against the outside of the post. The flag was up.

11:30 AM

KICK OFF!

Liverpool get us started, kicking from left to right and all in red.

11:27 AM

The players are on their way out

Watford fans have got used to welcoming new managers, but it looks a packed house at Vicarage Road.

11:18 AM

Back to his best

11:17 AM

Klopp not happy with the broadcasters again

He says 'thank you very much' to BT Sport's Des Kelly, a reference to kicking off at a time which means his red-list players like Fabinho and Alisson are absent.

11:14 AM

Klopp speaks

The players were all over the world and I had to tell them two days ago that Watford had changed their manager. Have seen their line up, it could be a back four or a back five.

We have to focus on ourselves and do what we usually do.

11:09 AM

The last time Liverpool played at Vicarage Road

Watford's Ismaila Sarr celebrates scoring their first goal  - Reuters
Watford's Ismaila Sarr celebrates scoring their first goal - Reuters

10:52 AM

Watford team news

Claudio Ranieri has made three changes from Xisco Munoz's last game in charge, with Adam Masina, Craig Cathcart and Cucho Hernandez included in place of Francisco Sierralta, Ozan Tufan and Joshua King.

10:45 AM

Liverpool's midfield today

It will be interesting to see who occupies the role of holding midfielder or 'number six' in Liverpool's 4-3-3. Will likely be one of Jordan Henderson or James Milner with Naby Keita in a more advanced position. When was the last time Milner started a Liverpool league game in midfield? I think it may have been last season's home defeat against Fulham.

10:33 AM

There is Claudio Ranieri's first Watford team

10:32 AM

Liverpool team: Trent Alexander-Arnold returns

10:28 AM

Can Watford upset Liverpool and Jurgen Klopp again?

Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool have had some chastening days at Vicarage Road. Odion Oghalo was on the scoresheet in a 3-0 Watford victory in Klopp's first season, while this was the fixture which ended Liverpool's chances of going unbeaten in 2019-20. Ismaila Sarr scored to end a 44-game run without losing, but Liverpool went on to secure their first league title in 30 years regardless.

Liverpool go into today's game without Alisson and Fabinho due to their involvement with Brazil in red-list countries during the international break. Roberto Firmino is available because he was not called-up by his national team. It is Claudio Ranieri's first game in charge of Watford who have seven points after seven games.

Klopp, who has been outspoken on a number of issues he feels are detrimental to the game, also felt any discussions he has had with FIFA and UEFA about scheduling have also fallen on deaf ears.

The Liverpool boss, who criticised Premier League boss Richard Masters for his silence on human rights following the Saudi Arabia-led takeover of Newcastle, felt managers' opinions carried little weight when it came to how the game was run.

"Did anything ever happen when I or somebody else said something in the Premier League?" he said.

"For everything you want to do, whatever direction it is going, you need 14 votes: I can't remember for one thing that it was good for football in general, not only for some clubs, which went through.

"And if you get in contact with Richard Masters send him my regards because I have never had contact with him: never is not right, maybe once or twice.

"There are a few managers out there who have an opinion, they mention it, but nothing changes.

"FIFA came here, showed me the World Cup every two years, I told them what I thought, I didn't like it. UEFA came here and showed me the new Champions League format, I didn't like it. Nothing changed.

"That is frustrating because we talk about it but nothing changes.

"My opinion is not based on my interests. It's based on the needs in this game. That is it.

"We will get through it but in the long term, we have to change it because you cannot do it."

Full team news on the way shortly.

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