Match ends, Liverpool 5, Watford 0.
Liverpool 5-0 Watford
Mohamed Salah scored four goals as Liverpool moved up to third in the Premier League table by thrashing Watford at Anfield.
Salah danced through Watford's defence to score early in the game before poking home Andy Robertson's cross late in the first half.
He set up Roberto Firmino's clever flick for Liverpool's third, then added two late strikes to complete the rout.
Liverpool have now opened a seven-point gap over Chelsea in fifth.
- Salah 'on his way' to earning Messi comparisons - Klopp
- Relive Liverpool's 5-0 victory
- Saturday's Premier League round-up
- The best of the stats
Jurgen Klopp's side also remain unbeaten at home in the Premier League this season.
It was Watford's second successive defeat, and despite chances for Roberto Pereyra and Richarlison, they never looked like getting back into the game.
But the Hornets are still eight points above the relegation zone and sit comfortably in 11th position.
Salah masterclass lights up Anfield
Before kick-off, Klopp insisted his side wanted to be back "immediately on the winning side" following the disappointment of their 2-1 defeat at rivals Manchester United last Saturday.
And it was a more familiar-looking Liverpool side who turned up at Anfield as Klopp's men put in a performance befitting their manager's urgency.
They started the game with high intensity - pressing their opponents and winning the ball back in midfield to set Salah on his way.
It did not take long for the Egyptian to make a breakthrough. Within four minutes he had given Liverpool the lead and taken his season's tally to 25 in the league.
Salah continued to cause Watford's defence problems and it always looked likely he and Liverpool would get a second, overtaking Harry Kane as the league's top scorer in the process.
Robertson's inch-perfect cross from the left meant the second goal was a tap-in but Salah produced two moments of magic to dance his way to a hat-trick and fire in his fourth.
Time seemed to stop as he evaded multiple challenges in the area and picked out the corner with a stabbed finish for his third before firing a strike high into the net for his fourth after Danny Ings' shot was saved.
It was another masterclass from the Egyptian and his form mirrors Liverpool's as they head into the final stages of the season.
The Reds are back up to third place in the table - with rivals Tottenham facing fifth-placed Chelsea in their next match.
With seven games left to play, Liverpool look to have consolidated their place in the top four and can also look forward to a Champions League quarter-final with Manchester City.
How Salah contributed to all five goals:
- 4 mins: Liverpool take the lead as Salah leaves Miguel Britos on the floor after dribbling past him and firing low into the bottom corner.
- 43 mins: Salah taps in a cross from the left from Robertson on the stroke of half-time.
- 49 mins: Firmino's delicate flick beats Orestis Karnezis at the near post after a cross from Salah.
- 77 mins: He pokes the ball past Karnezis to score his hat-trick.
- 85 mins: Salah's left-footed strike from the centre of the box finds the roof of the net.
His record-breaking stats:
- Salah has scored 36 goals for Liverpool in all competitions - the most by a single player in their debut season for the Reds.
- He has scored 28 Premier League goals this season - only one African player has managed more in a single campaign (Didier Drogba's 29 in 2009-10).
- Salah is the first Egyptian player to score a Premier League hat-trick, with Egypt the 43rd nation overall and the 10th African country to provide a hat-trick scorer in the competition.
- The winger scored four goals from his four shots - the first player to do so in the Premier League since Andrey Arshavin in April 2009, also at Anfield.
A long way off the season opener
Miguel Britos scored a 93rd-minute equaliser for Watford as Liverpool were held to a thrilling 3-3 draw when these two teams met on the opening day of the season at Vicarage Road.
Liverpool's defensive frailties - which allowed Watford back into the game in August - were on show against Manchester United last Saturday but there was none of the same at Anfield.
The hosts never looked like throwing away the lead and, after scoring twice in the first half, controlled the game comfortably before Salah's late additions to the score.
Salah's inclusion on the scoresheet comes as no surprise now but when he netted on his debut at Vicarage Road few would have predicted what success he would go on to have this season.
Nor would many who saw that game have predicted a 5-0 rout for Watford in March but aside from two chances from Pereyra and Richarlison, they offered very little going forward at Anfield.
Pereyra's fizzing free-kick hit the crossbar in the second half and could just conceivably have given the Hornets a route back into the game but, in truth, they never looked like matching their hosts.
The determination the Hornets showed to come from behind in that opening fixture set the tone for a largely positive campaign which has seen them climb to 11th, eight points above the relegation zone but Saturday's thrashing will be a day to forget.
'It helps the goal difference' - what the bosses said
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp, speaking to BBC Match of the Day: "It was very pleasing. It could have been really difficult tonight. We knew we had to be spot on from the first to the last second and our work rate had to be higher than 100%.
"The goals we scored were unbelievably good, and the boys didn't stop. That's how football should be, so I'm really happy with the performance.
"For Mo to be involved in five goals is fantastic but to score four is even more fantastic. His goals are so important for us. We have to hope they all come back well from the internationals.
"The clean sheet is very important. They lost a little concentration in the last few minutes but that's normal. It helps us in the goal difference."
Watford manager Javi Gracia, speaking to BBC Match of the Day: "We knew today was going to be a tough game.
"We conceded an early goal again like we did against Arsenal and after that it was difficult. We will try to do better next time. They were much better than us and congratulations to them.
"Mo Salah is one of the best players at the moment. We know we have played against one of the best teams in Europe.
"There are positives we can take, but we will try to do better next time."
No luck on the road for Hornets - the best of the stats
- The Reds have averaged 2.2 goals per game since Klopp took over - their highest goals-per-game ratio at Anfield in the Premier League under any manager.
- Watford have lost 10 of their 11 top-flight away games against Liverpool.
- Roberto Firmino (three assists) and Mohamed Salah (four assists) have combined for seven goals in the Premier League this season - the joint-most by any duo, level with Sadio Mane (six assists) and Salah (one assist).
- Sadio Mane has had a hand in five goals in three Premier League games against Watford for Liverpool (three goals, two assists).
- Watford are winless in their past nine Premier League away games (D1 L8), scoring just twice in that run and failing to find the net in each of the past five.
Man of the match - Mohamed Salah (Liverpool)
Liverpool travel to Crystal Palace on Saturday, 31 March (12:30 BST) hoping to consolidate their position in the top four.
Watford will look to return to winning ways when they host Bournemouth at 15:00 BST on the same day.
- 12GomezBooked at 52mins
- 4van Dijk
- 23CanSubstituted forMilnerat 27'minutes
- 5WijnaldumSubstituted forOxlade-Chamberlainat 71'minutes
- 9Roberto FirminoSubstituted forIngsat 79'minutes
- 3BritosSubstituted forJanmaatat 81'minutes
- 9DeeneySubstituted forOkakaat 70'minutes
- 11RicharlisonSubstituted forHughesat 65'minutes
- Anthony Taylor
- Shots on Target
Second Half ends, Liverpool 5, Watford 0.
Corner, Watford. Conceded by Joel Matip.
Offside, Liverpool. James Milner tries a through ball, but Danny Ings is caught offside.
Jordan Henderson (Liverpool) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Stefano Okaka (Watford).
Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Roberto Pereyra (Watford).
Goal! Liverpool 5, Watford 0. Mohamed Salah (Liverpool) left footed shot from the centre of the box to the top right corner.
Attempt saved. Danny Ings (Liverpool) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the bottom right corner. Assisted by Mohamed Salah.
Offside, Liverpool. James Milner tries a through ball, but Danny Ings is caught offside.
Attempt blocked. James Milner (Liverpool) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.
Attempt saved. Danny Ings (Liverpool) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the top centre of the goal. Assisted by Sadio Mané with a through ball.
Substitution, Watford. Daryl Janmaat replaces Miguel Britos.
Attempt blocked. Stefano Okaka (Watford) right footed shot from the left side of the box is blocked. Assisted by Abdoulaye Doucouré with a through ball.
Substitution, Liverpool. Danny Ings replaces Roberto Firmino.
Foul by Roberto Firmino (Liverpool).
Will Hughes (Watford) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Goal! Liverpool 4, Watford 0. Mohamed Salah (Liverpool) left footed shot from the centre of the box to the bottom left corner. Assisted by Sadio Mané.
Attempt saved. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Liverpool) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal.
Sadio Mané (Liverpool) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Adrian Mariappa (Watford).
Substitution, Liverpool. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain replaces Georginio Wijnaldum.
Substitution, Watford. Stefano Okaka replaces Troy Deeney.
Substitution, Watford. Will Hughes replaces Richarlison.
Attempt missed. Roberto Firmino (Liverpool) header from the centre of the box misses to the left. Assisted by Joseph Gomez with a cross.
Foul by Mohamed Salah (Liverpool).
José Holebas (Watford) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Roberto Pereyra (Watford) hits the bar with a right footed shot from a difficult angle and long range on the left from a direct free kick.
Joseph Gomez (Liverpool) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Foul by Joseph Gomez (Liverpool).
Richarlison (Watford) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Attempt missed. José Holebas (Watford) right footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the left. Assisted by Miguel Britos.
Foul by James Milner (Liverpool).
Etienne Capoue (Watford) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Goal! Liverpool 3, Watford 0. Roberto Firmino (Liverpool) right footed shot from very close range to the bottom left corner. Assisted by Mohamed Salah with a cross.
Offside, Liverpool. Jordan Henderson tries a through ball, but Mohamed Salah is caught offside.
Attempt saved. Roberto Firmino (Liverpool) header from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Jordan Henderson with a cross.
Second Half begins Liverpool 2, Watford 0.
First Half ends, Liverpool 2, Watford 0.