Watford 3-0 Liverpool: Hornets capitalize on early Bogdan mistake for storming win

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Watford has played Liverpool 17 times in top flight league play in their history. Today was the first time Watford entered the match ahead on points. The only thing that changed following the match was their winning streak.

The Hornets secured a comprehensive 3-0 victory that began just three minutes in as Nathan Ake pounced on a mistake by Liverpool fill-in goalkeeper Adam Bogdan, and Odion Igahlo bagged a brace to deservedly put things away. Watford were the better team from start to finish, and the Reds have plenty of thinking to do heading into the holiday season.

The opener came nearly straight away when Ake won a corner as Watford controlled early. The corner swung in too close to Liverpool goalkeeper Adam Bogdan, but on his Liverpool league debut with his first touch, the 28-year-old dropped the ball, and Ake was there to touch it in for his first senior goal. Bogdan, in for the injured Simon Mignolet who himself has struggled at times this season, saw his team go behind just over two minutes into the match.

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Liverpool worked hard to get on the ball and get back level, but Watford struck again, this time on the break. With the ball bouncing around in midfield, it fell for Tony Deeney who sent Igahlo through one-on-one with Martin Skrtel. Igahlo won the battle with strength and speed, holding off the Liverpool defender and poking the ball clinically to the far post past Bogdan for a 2-0 lead just 15 minutes into the game.

Watford continued to be the most dangerous side, and just past the half-hour mark they nearly grabbed a third. Bogdan failed to collect a bouncing ball again and the ball poked towards the net but Skrtel was there to collect and clear.

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Skrtel found himself struggling with back and leg injuries, and was forced off five minutes before halftime, replaced by Divock Origi.

Following the break, the home side remained dangerous as Deeney, Igahlo, and Jose Jurado routinely beat the Liverpool back line despite often being out-manned. The Reds were continually forced to scramble the ball away, and Bogdan was required to make an exceptional save on 63 minutes after Sakho slipped letting Igahlo alone on net.

The Reds had their best chance of the game on 66 minutes, as Henderson tried to loop the keeper from close range but Heurehlo Gomez acrobatically lept to push the ball away. He was needed again five minutes later as Emre Can latched onto a poor clear and shot to the near post. The Watford defense held strong, though, and Jurgen Klopp made a pair of changes up front bringing on Jordan Ibe and Christian Benteke in place of Adam Lallana and Roberto Firmino who were largely ineffective.

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Watford absorbed the pressure from Liverpool over the final 15 minutes and Igahlo made things 3-0 with five minutes to go as Valon Behrami came off the bench to serve up a beautiful cross that Igahlo nodded past Bogdan to secure the win.

Watford earned their first marquee win of the season, and their fourth straight victory, something they haven’t done in top flight league play since 1987. The three points pushed the Hornets up to 28 on the season, just a point off the top four. Liverpool, just a point shy of Watford coming into the match, remain back in ninth, unable to separate themselves from the mid-table pack.

VIDEO: Breaking down some celebrated Premier League derbies

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The kickoffs aren’t coming back soon, so we’re finding solace in anticipating the biggest matches on the Premier League calendar.

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Certain rivalries are circled on the fixture list when it arrives each summer, the sort of games that seem to level the playing field regardless of the gulf in class.

Is Arsenal struggling? No better way to bounce back than Spurs.

Liverpool sliding a bit? It’ll snap back to form when Everton hits Anfield.

PST lead writer and editor Joe Prince-Wright has prepped up for several of these derbies over the years, and here’s a cheat sheet for those new and a tasty summation for those missing their hated foes.

Liverpool-Manchester City

Arsenal-Tottenham Hotspur

Liverpool-Everton

Manchester City-Manchester United

Chelsea-Tottenham Hotspur

Bournemouth’s Howe takes voluntary pay cut, first PL manager to do so

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Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe is the first Premier League manager to take a pay cut due to the coronavirus suspension.

Howe joins Bournemouth chief executive Neill Blake, first team technical director Richard Hughes, and assistant manager Jason Tindall in taking “significant, voluntary” pay cuts.

Howe is the longest-serving manager in the PL. He started with Bournemouth’s academy in 1994 and spent just a few short seasons away from home (Portsmouth and Swindon Town) during his playing career.

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The club has also furloughed employees throughout the organization. From a Bournemouth statement:

There is no script for moments like this. No tactics and no set plays to find a winning formula. But as a board we are continually looking at ways to ensure the future of the club and our employees is protected when the season returns.

We have also advised a number of staff across all areas of the club that they will be temporarily furloughed, as a result of the ongoing pandemic.

These measures have been taken to safeguard the financial stability of the club during what is such an uncertain period, not only in football but for businesses in all industries across the world.

Surely Howe won’t be the last during this uncertain time for clubs and businesses all over the world.

Ex-Marseille president first coronavirus-related death in Senegal

Pape Diouf
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DAKAR, Senegal (AP) Pape Diouf, a former president of French soccer club Marseille, died Tuesday in Senegal after contracting the coronavirus. It was the West African country’s first COVID-19-related death, according to the health ministry. He was 68.

Diouf, who was president of Marseille from 2005-09, had been treated since Saturday in intensive care in Dakar, health minister Abdoulaye Diouf Sarr said.

Senegal President Macky Sall wrote on his official Twitter account that he had followed Diouf’s health closely after he was admitted for treatment.

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“I pay tribute to this great figure in sport,” Sall wrote. “I pay tribute to the medical staff at Fann Hospital who spared no effort to save him.”

Relatives said Diouf was meant to be moved to France. He had recently traveled to several countries in the West Africa region.

In its most recent count, Senegal has reported 190 cases of the coronavirus, with 45 of those having recovered.

Diouf was a charismatic and popular leader who was close to the fans and players at Marseille, the only French team to win the European club title.

“Pape will forever remain in the hearts of Marseille people and (is) one of the great architects of the club,” Marseille wrote under a photo of Diouf.

Shortly before his time at the club ended, Diouf signed Didier Deschamps as the new coach and Deschamps won the French league title and League Cup in his first season in charge. It was Marseille’s first league title in 18 years.

Deschamps, who coached France to World Cup success two years ago, described Diouf as “a man of convictions, a spirited man, passionate about football” adding that his “sudden and brutal death deeply saddens me.”

“I could measure his popularity, which was immense with the Marseille people whose hearts he had won,” Deschamps said on L’Equipe’s website.

The French soccer league called Diouf’s death “a moment of immense sadness for French soccer.”

Diouf was born in Chad to Senegalese parents. After arriving in Marseille at the age of 18, he became a sports journalist and then a players’ agent.

Diouf was not afraid to take risks in signing unheralded players, such as the diminutive Mathieu Valbuena from third-tier side Libourne in 2006 when he was 21.

The 1.67-meter (5 feet, 5 inches) Valbuena went on to prove Diouf right, and all the doubters wrong, playing 52 times for France.

“A great man with a great heart,” Valbuena said. “We were hypnotized by his speeches, he had a lot of charisma.”

Diouf was awarded the French Legion of Honor medal in 2012, one of the country’s highest honors.

Pugmire reported from Paris. AP reporter Babacar Dione in Dakar, Senegal contributed.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Report: Griezmann plus cash could finally get Neymar back to Barcelona

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Neymar’s long-rumored return to Barcelona hasn’t quite reached the point of exhaustion, but it’s close.

A new report has said Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain may be coming to terms with what’s been a fairly obvious swap deal for some time.

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According to Sky Sports, PSG would send Neymar to Barcelona in return for French hero Antoine Griezmann and money.

The $167 million price tag attached to Neymar is significantly more than the $110 million on Griezmann, and there’s no doubt the former is more of a gamechanger at this point on their careers.

While Neymar gets both the #whenhealthy and #whenavailable tags to his rep, he’s scored 18 times with 10 assists in 22 matches across all competitions this year.

Before the full phrase ‘Ligue 1’ exits your lips, he’s scored against Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, Celtic, Galatasaray, Liverpool, Anderlecht, and Red Star Belgrade in his three seasons with PSG.

Griezmann is a full year older than Neymar and, while one of the world’s elite attackers, he’s a step below the Brazilian’s tier. He’s also said to want to keep finding his way at Barca, with Gerard Pique and others ready to lend support.