LIVERPOOL 5, WATFORD 0
By Omar Moore
February 27, 2019
Liverpool dominated Watford at Anfield, and ran out rampant winners, fueled by first half goals from Sadio Mane, who was the beneficiary of two great Trent Alexander-Arnold assists. Alexander-Arnold was outstanding.
Mane made Watford’s defence a mockery as he got in between Watford defenders Craig Cathcart and Adrian Mariappa and directed a looping header past Hornets goalkeeper Ben Foster in the eighth minute. Twelve minutes later Mane made it two after a poor first touch was redeemed by a cheeky, skillful second — a back heel into an empty net. The first half goals underlined Liverpool’s superiority — and Watford were lucky it wasn’t worse.
Tonight Watford, buoyed by a five-goal performance at Cardiff, were guilty of lackadaisical play and poor defensive work, and had they been more clinical with their two late first-half chances the match would have been more of a contest. Despite some lively forays into the Liverpool box in the second half, Watford just could not get things to click.
Mohammed Salah tormented Watford all night long down the right hand side, looking in irrepressible form and always likely to score. Remarkably, he did not. Ben Foster kept Liverpool at bay as best he could, but it was the rest of his teammates who could not.
An individual moment of magic from Divock Origi made it 3-0 in the 65th minute but the moment was made more magical by more poor Watford defending as Daryl Janmaat, Will Hughes and Abdoulaye Doucoure all put in halfhearted challenges on Origi in the 18-yard box as he fired in from close range past a diving Foster.
Watford gained some momentum after manager Javi Gracia substituted both Troy Deeney and Gerard Deulofeu with Andre Gray and Tom Cleverley. Gray had a fine chance saved brilliantly by Alisson but late on Liverpool made the Hornets pay dear with two goals in two minutes for Virgil Van Dijk, crystallizing a well-deserved Liverpool win and a poor, uneven Watford display.
Liverpool (out of 10): Alisson 8, Robertson 8, Fabinho 7, Van Dijk 9, Alexander-Arnold 10, Matip 8, Wijnaldum 7, Milner 8, Mane 9, Salah 9, Origi 7.
Substitutes: Lallana 7.
WATFORD (out of 10): Foster 7, Masina 6, Mariappa 6, Cathcart 6, Janmaat 5, Pereyra 5, Capoue 7, Doucoure 7, Hughes 7, Deeney 6, Deulofeu 6.
Substitutes: Gray 7, Cleverley 6.
Referee (out of 10): Graham Scott 7.
Attendance: 53, 316.
(Photo: Sadio Mane heads Liverpool in front after eight minutes against Watford at Anfield during their 5-0 win. Photo via Reuters)