Liverpool 6-1 Watford: Swarming home win sends Reds to the top

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We came into this weekend with three clubs level at the top of the Premier League table. We left it with one by itself.

Jurgen Klopp guided Liverpool to the top of the Premier League table with a comprehensive performance to pummel Watford 6-1 at Anfield behind goals from Saido Mane, Philippe Coutinho, and Emre Can in the first half, while Roberto Firmino and Gregorio Wijnaldum cashed in after the break.

Liverpool had a number of near-chances in the opening 15 minutes, but Watford’s defending was solid to start. The Reds came closest on 16 minutes when a corner fell to the feet of Lucas, but his point-blank shot was well smothered by Heurelho Gomez coming out of net.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Philippe Coutinho should have scored with 20 minutes gone by, as he cut inside beautifully to escape Daryl Janmaat, but he skittered his shot just wide of the left post, leaving Jurgen Klopp to applaud the first touch despite the disappointing miss. The Reds pummeled Gomez’s goal, somehow kept out through 25 minutes. James Milner tried looping a ball in past Gomez, but it was cleared off the line by Younes Kaboul.

Finally, Liverpool went deservedly in front as Saido Mane expertly headed home a short corner, a fabulous strike off the back of his head while being pressured away from goal. That opened the floodgates, and the Reds hit again just minutes later on the half-hour mark. Roberto Firmino fed Coutinho, whose touch inside sprung him again, and this time he hammered it low past Gomez for a 2-0 lead.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

The in-form Gomez was forced off after the goal, clearly in heavy pain with trainers looking at his right leg. That forced a goalkeeper change for Watford, bringing on Costel Pantillimon. The Reds didn’t stop pulsing forward, and they got a third before halftime as Adam Lallana lofted a looping cross into the box and Can poked it home with his head.

The second half was just a formality, but Liverpool used it to add to the tally. Roberto Firmino got one just before the hour mark as a Lallana cross found him completely unmarked at the top of the six-yard box, and the Brazilian tapped it home. That wasn’t all, as Firmino grabbed a second, a similar looking tap-in from point-blank range thanks to a find from Mane on the right.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

Watford looked for a consolation, but Loris Karius kept out a strike from Etienne Capoue on 67 minutes as a corner was pinged to the Hornets midfielder outside the box and he ripped a low one looking for the far corner. They would get one at the end to ruin the clean sheet, as Nordin Amarabat shucked a defender and found Daryl Janmaat in the box, and the Dutchman passed it into the back of the net for his first Watford goal.

Daniel Sturridge came on for some minutes with the game clearly done, and he would hit the post with 13 minutes to go, as did Georgino Wijnaldum who almost bagged a stunner in the dying minutes, but would score in added time after a shot from Sturridge was saved, and the rebound fell right to Wijnaldum who was left with an easy tap-in.

The win for the Reds sends them clear at the top of the table, one above in-form Chelsea and two in front of both Arsenal and Manchester City who were held to draws this weekend. For Watford, they remain stuck on 15 points, dropping a place as Manchseter United jump them with their likely Sunday result.

FOLLOW LIVE, Gold Cup: USMNT closes out group v. Panama

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It’s a fully-changed starting XI for the U.S. Men’s National Team as it closes out the group stage against Panama at Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City, Kansas.

Omar Gonzalez and Matt Miazga start together in the backline, Jozy Altidore returns to the starting lineup up top, and Jordan Morris and Jonathan Lewis feature on the wings alongside Altidore. Ten of the 11 players now ply their trade in MLS, including the Gonzalez, who recently moved to Toronto FC.

[ FOLLOW LIVE: USMNT takes on Panama in Kansas City]

Hit the link above to follow along for the next two hours, and check back on PST for a full recap and in-depth analysis after the final whistle.

Must-See Goal: Wayne Rooney v. Orlando City

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I’m going to go out on a limb and say it. Wayne Rooney just scored the most amazing goal in Audi Field’s young history.

In the 10th minute of D.C. United’s match against Orlando City SC on Wednesday evening, Rooney noticed Orlando’s Brian Rowe straying way off his line. And so, with an audacious but accurate attempt, Rooney let fly from 65 yards and SCORED. Just check this goal out below.

[FOLLOW LIVE: USMNT v. Panama]

Rooney took advantage of a crazy bounce and with his literal first touch, unleashed a thunderbolt that Rowe couldn’t catch up to. It automatically becomes one of the top contenders for the MLS Goal of the Year, and should make it on every top ten countdown this evening and tomorrow.

Benfica: Atletico Madrid make $143 million bid for Felix

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The legend of Joao Felix appears to have reached full market value potential.

The 19-year-old Portuguese striker is coming off a breakout year for Benfica, and now the Portuguese giants have received an impressive $143 million offer from Atletico Madrid for Felix. The club confirmed the offer in a statement on its website, stating it was analyzing the deal. Felix has a $136.5 million release clause in his contract, but it appears the additional $7 million is in processing costs.

[READ: Kroos wants to retire at Real Madrid]

Felix was outstanding at Benfica last year, scoring 15 goals with seven assists in 26 league games and three goals and one assist in five Europa League game. Felix has already made his international debut for Portugal.

If confirmed, Felix would become the fifth-most expensive transfer in world history, and the second-most expensive transfer for a teenager behind Kylian Mbappe.

AFCON: Nigeria 1st team through to round of 16 at African Cup, joined by host Egypt

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CAIRO (AP) Former champion Nigeria became the first team to reach the last 16 at the African Cup of Nations after defender Kenneth Omeruo‘s second-half goal delivered a 1-0 win over Guinea on Wednesday.

The Nigerians were unimpressive in the first half in Alexandria but lifted their game in the second. Alex Iwobi‘s rasping shot was pushed away by Guinea goalkeeper Ibrahim Kone and Ahmed Musa almost set up Odion Ighalo on a counterattack.

The former Chelsea defender Omeruo did what the forwards had not been able to do when he beat Kone with a glancing header at the near post off Moses Simon’s corner in the 73rd minute.

Nigeria, which won the title in 2013, has two wins from two games in Group B. It beat Burundi 1-0 in its first match and now needs a draw from its last fixture against Madagascar to finish top and stay in Alexandria for the last 16.

There was more good news for Nigeria when Samuel Kalu came on as a substitute near the end. The midfield player collapsed at a training session the day before the first game, suffering from dehydration, and was hospitalized.

Coach Gernot Rohr rested captain John Obi Mikel against Guinea.

Elsewhere, Egypt also confirmed a place in the knockout stages with a 2-0 win over the Democratic Republic of Congo. Ahmad Elmohamady and Mohamed Salah each scored in the first half to lead the Pharoahs to victory, the hosts second-straight win in the competition.

In the other match of the day, Uganda tied Zimbabwe, 1-1.