Two goals from Odion Ighalo helped to give Watford an impressive 3-0 win over Liverpool at Vicarage Road on Sunday, their fourth consecutive Barclays Premier League triumph.
A mistake from Adam Bogdan, who was replacing the injured Simon Mignolet in Liverpool’s goal, allowed Nathan Ake to score the opener. Ighalo, who took his Barclays Premier League goals tally to 12 this season, netted shortly after with a neat finish before sealing the victory with a header five minutes from time.
The win puts Watford within a point of Tottenham Hotspur in fourth, while Liverpool remain ninth and have won only three of nine league matches since Jurgen Klopp took charge.
Liverpool made four alterations to their team as Bogdan, Roberto Firmino, Lucas Leiva and Mamadou Sakho came in for injured Dejan Lovren, Mignolet and James Milner, while Christian Benteke dropped to the bench.
Watford, who were unchanged, made a dream start in the third minute. Bogdan dropped Ben Watson’s corner, allowing Ake to tap home from a yard as referee Mark Clattenburg ignored the goalkeeper’s claims that he had regained control before the defender struck.
Philippe Coutinho had a shot saved by Heurelho Gomes as Liverpool sought an equaliser, but it was the hosts who scored next, after 15 minutes.
Troy Deeney chipped a pass forward and Ighalo outmuscled Martin Skrtel to race on to the bouncing ball and divert an accurate finish in off the far post.
Bogdan almost made another mistake when a misunderstanding resulted in him punching the ball against Lucas, with Skrtel having to make a frantic clearance.
Liverpool’s first half got worse when Skrtel limped off injured as Divock Origi came on to replace him in a tactical switch from Klopp.
The Reds looked fired up after the break and Origi shot straight at Gomes, but it was almost game over when Jurado played a pass through to Ighalo and Sakho slipped to allow him through on goal. But Bogdan made the save.
At the other end, Jordan Henderson forced his way past Ake and struck powerfully towards goal, but Gomes made an important one-handed stop to preserve Watford’s two-goal advantage.
Emre Can had a long-range effort beaten away by Gomes, but there was to be no recovery for the visitors.
Ighalo sealed the victory with a firm header after a free-flowing counter-attack had led to substitute Valon Behrami’s cross from the right finding the striker as Liverpool’s disappointing run of form continued.
Watford manager Quique Sanchez Flores: “We have a lot of matches and we never underestimate the teams we play. We are completely happy with the performance. It was an amazing victory against an amazing team.”
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp: “We made many more wrong decisions today. Our reaction was really bad. With the wind and not the best pitch, we were playing in small spaces. We were playing the way they want and they closed us down. The start to the second half was very good, but we didn’t score, and then their third goal – game over.”