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.