Hornets sting the Reds
Written By: Robert Halter
Watford lined up against Liverpool at Vicarage Road for the first time since 2007, as the Hornets looked to turn the tables on the Reds, and open up a four points gap on the Reds in the Premier League standings. The Golden Boys got off to a perfect start on two minutes, when from a Ben Watson corner, the ball dropped out the hands of the Liverpool stand in keeper, Adam Bogdan, while under threat from Nathan Ake, which gave an early Christmas present to Ake, who forced the ball over the line, for his first ever senior goal. On ten minutes, a long range pass from Reds captain, Jordan Henderson, picked out Philippe Coutinho, whose curling strike was comfortably caught by the Hornets keeper, Heurelho Gomes. Incredibly, Watford found another gear on fourteen minutes, when club captain, Troy Deeney delivered an over the top ball from inside his own half which found Odion Ighalo, who shrugged off the challenge of Martin Skrtel, to steer the ball past Bogdan, into the far corner. There was concerns for Liverpool, as Skrtel fell uncomfortably and required treatment. But the Hornets kept up the pressure in the thirty second minute as Etienne Capoue could not find a way through after an assist by Almen Abdi, who again turned provider for Jose Manuel Jurado, whose low right footed shot was turned away by Bogdan with a near post save. After Skrtel hobbled off the pitch, Divock Origi took over. There was more frantic defending by Liverpool from a Watson corner, when Bogdan was caught flapping but Ighalo was unable to find a connection, in the forty first minute. During the first minute of the second half, the Reds could not capitalise on a mistake by Abdi, as Alberto Moreno, drove the ball into the outside netting and then Gomes had to protect his near post from a tame effort by Origi, after Emre Can had carved an opening in the forty seventh minute. On fifty eighth minutes, as Ighalo cut in from the left side of the penalty area, the ball had to be scrambled clear by Adam Lallana and Lucas to stifle the situation in the box. On the hour mark, Lallana turned attacker but put his header wide to the right from the centre of the box, following a cross by Henderson. Within two minutes Watford replied, when Jurado’s incisive through ball put Ighalo clear on goal and with just Bogdan to beat, his strike cannoned against the legs of the Liverpool shot stopper, as his effort drifted over the bar, to spurn the opportunity. But three minute later, the Reds responded, when a soaring shot by Henderson forced a flying save by Gomes, after a long range pass by Coutinho, had provided the opening. On seventy one minutes, a poor clearance from Miguel Britos, was latched upon by Can, whose low drive required Gomes to pull off an instinctive save. Liverpool made two changes with Jordan Ibe on for Lallana and Christian Benteke taking over from Roberto Firmino before Watford replaced Jurado with Ikechi Anya. After a header by Benteke missed to the left from a Jordan Henderson set piece in the seventy eighth minute, the Hornets then removed Abdi for Valon Behrami. The game was signed, sealed and delivered in the eighty fourth minute, as Deeney was the orchestrator and as Behrani sent over an in swinging cross, Ighalo landed a well timed header into the heart of the goal, but his celebrations were short lived as he was replaced by Adlene Guedioura. It was not Liverpool’s day as at the end when Jordan Ibe could not find his range with a left footed shot from outside the area through a Moreno assist. But it was Watford that went onwards and upwards by securing a 3-0 victory to consolidate seventh position in the table, just one point away from the top four places as the new Reds manager, Jurgen Klopp, had witnessed Liverpool take a backwards step at the home of the Hornets.