Watford close on top four with comfortable Liverpool win
Jamie Clark, Sports Editor | December 20, 2015
Watford 3-0 Liverpool
- Bogdan howler gifts Hornets loanee Ake early opener
- Ighalo also strikes inside 15 minutes
- Liverpool lose centre back Skrtel to injury
- Nigeria forward Ighalo sealed victory late on
- Watford win fourth game in a row
Hornets have sting at start and in tail
Watford moved to within a point of the fourth Champions League place by beating Liverpool at home in the top flight for the first time in 29 years, courtesy of early goals from Nathan Ake and Odion Ighalo, who also struck again late on.
Quique Sanchez Flores’ Hornets caught the Reds cold, using a high-pressing game that forced mistakes out of a Merseyside outfit missing key performers Dejan Lovren and James Milner from their spine.
Injury to Liverpool’s first-choice keeper Simon Mignolet meant Jurgen Klopp had to field Hungary international Adam Bogdan. His first job was to pick out of his own net, after spilling a third-minute Ben Watson corner under pressure from Troy Deeney.
Ake A-ok for opener
Ake poked the loose ball home from a yard out and the goal stood – despite Reds stopper Bogdan’s protestations that it had been kicked out of his hands.
Watford’s wonderful pressing paid off against a lacklustre Liverpool again inside the quarter-hour when Troy Deeney lofted a through-ball up to strike partner Ighalo, and he found the far corner finishing off the post after out-muscling Martin Skrtel.
Bogdan’s poor showing continued when he punched clear against his own player putting Klopp’s crew under further pressure. He then saved low, tipping round the post from Jose Manuel Jurado.
Reds rocky in defence
Sloppy defending from the visitors got worse when Skrtel limped off injured. Bogdan palmed a corner kick away from under his own crossbar.
The Reds offered more after the interval, with Adam Lallana’s looping header dropping wide. Defensive errors from them continued to put Bogdan in danger, but he pulled off a fine one-on-one save from Ighalo when the Nigeria international dumped Mamadou Sakho on his backside.
Heurelho Gomes in the home goal was finally called into action with 25 minutes left, tipping over from Jordan Henderson, and latter palming behind from Emre Can.
Ighalo at the double
A fine team move was finised by Ighalo heading home his second and Watford’s third five minutes from time, as he got on the end of sub Valon Behrami’s right-wing centre.
Klopp was left to rue opting for a false nine in Roberto Firmino instead of an out-and-out striker, though Christian Benteke had an ineffectual 15-minute cameo. The day belonged to Watford and their ability to surprise.
Seeing the Hornets, Crystal Palace and Leicester City all perhaps punching above their weight has added renewed interest to the Premier League.