Watford started impressively and had the better chances in the opening 20 minutes, as Ismaïla Sarr struck his first-time effort over the crossbar. Cucho Hernández then saw an intelligent header denied and an impressive counter culminated in Juraj Kucka being halted by Alisson. Just 34 seconds after the Brazilian’s save, Diogo Jota snuck in front of Ben Foster to head home Joe Gomez’s wicked cross. This took the Portuguese forward to four goals in his last five matches for club and country, while also offering a cruel example of how quickly Jürgen Klopp’s side can change a game despite not always being at their best.
There was a break in play on the half-hour mark after Cucho had a clash of heads with Joël Matip, but Liverpool built on their opener to assert their dominance and Foster was forced into a good save by Jota. Within a minute of the second half, Gomez delivered another superb cross but Christian Kabasele made an impressive header to ensure Andy Robertson didn’t reach it. The ‘Reds’ still weren’t in top gear, but Virgil van Dijk had a big opportunity that he headed off target, before the ‘Hornets’ had a dangerous attack of their own, though João Pedro couldn’t apply the finish it deserved.
Even Jota couldn’t replicate his own precision from the first half, missing the target with two headers. Mohamed Salah had been kept quiet by Hassane Kamara and was replaced by Sadio Mané in the 69th minute, but the substitute snatched at a chance after Emmanuel Dennis had cheaply conceded possession. Liverpool had been uncharacteristically wasteful, but Fabinho clinically scored his late penalty after Kucka had wrestled Jota to the floor while defending a corner.
This wrapped up an incredible tenth consecutive PL victory and an eighth clean sheet in that period for the ‘Reds’. Meanwhile, Watford can be encouraged by their performance against one of the league’s best despite the remaining three points from safety, having still recorded two wins in their last five away matches – the same number they had from the previous 19.