Premier League
WatfordWatford0LiverpoolLiverpool5

Watford 0-5 Liverpool: Roberto Firmino hat-trick and Mohamed Salah scores another stunner

By Simon StoneBBC Sport at Vicarage Road
Liverpool celebrate Sadio Mane's opening goal at Watford
Sadio Mane is the third African player to score 100 Premier League goals after Didier Drogba and Liverpool team-mate Mohamed Salah

Roberto Firmino scored a hat-trick as rampant Liverpool condemned Claudio Ranieri to a miserable start to life as Watford manager in a one-sided game at Vicarage Road.

The home side had no answer to Liverpool's fluid attacking play.

Sadio Mane became the third African player to score 100 Premier League goals before Roberto Firmino struck either side of the break and Mohamed Salah finished a brilliant individual goal with a smart shot beyond Ben Foster.

Salah's goal takes him level with former Chelsea striker Didier Drogba as the highest-scoring African player in Premier League history with 104 goals.

Firmino completed the scoring in the final minute for his first hat-trick since December 2018.

The result means Liverpool have scored three goals or more in all six away games in all competitions so far this season, something no other English top-flight side has ever managed. It also extended their unbeaten start to the season and keeps them second in the Premier League table.

It could easily have been more but a combination of bad luck and - from Salah - a terrible mis-control cost them further opportunities.

Watford did not manage a corner until the 78th minute. That it was greeted with huge cheers and a standing ovation just about summed up Ranieri's day.

Ranieri's task laid bare

Watford is Ranieri's 22nd different job in his long and varied coaching career. Rarely can he have endured a start as sobering as this.

It was Watford's heaviest Premier League defeat since their eight-goal hammering by Manchester City in September 2019 and their biggest at home since the same opponents scored six here two years before that. There was certainly nothing to trigger a celebration before his 70th birthday on Thursday.

The dimensions of Vicarage Road mean the edge of the managers' technical areas are about as close as it is possible to get to the side of the pitch.

It meant that Ranieri was almost on top of the action as the size of his task was laid bare.

A long pre-match chat with Liverpool counterpart Jurgen Klopp was about as good as it got for the Italian.

Watford players may have been nervous - Ranieri

The hosts simply did not get near enough to their talented opponents. Salah was given far too much space by Danny Rose even before he created the opener. Firmino was allowed to drop into the space between Watford's defence and midfield without anyone tracking his movements and Liverpool stroked the ball about at will further back, with no press to hurry them up.

With a paltry 17% possession, no shots, no corners and, obviously, no goals, the first half was a non-event for Ranieri and his new team. And if he hoped the introduction of Tom Cleverley into midfield for the second period would improve matters, he was sadly mistaken as Liverpool scored twice within 10 minutes of the restart.

Watford did rally towards the end, with Ismaila Sarr striking a post, although by then any chance of turning the game into a contest was long gone.

If there was a consolation for Ranieri, it is that there should be no dissenters if he wants to make significant changes during his first full week working with his new team.

However, with a fixture list that includes Everton, Arsenal, Chelsea and both Manchester clubs among Watford's next seven opponents, Ranieri needs a plan if his club's famously trigger-happy owners are not to be considering whether to axe yet another manager.

Rampant Reds show their quality

Watford 0-5 Liverpool: Salah is best player in the world - Klopp

This was Liverpool's biggest win since the 7-0 hammering of Crystal Palace last December, which was also the last time Firmino, Salah and Mane all scored in a top-flight game.

In joining Egypt's Salah and Ivorian Didier Drogba as African goalscoring centurions, Senegalese Mane is part of a pretty exclusive Premier League club.

Salah's curling pass with the outside of his left foot could not have been any more inviting and Mane showed superb composure to meet the ball with perfect timing and give Foster no chance.

Firmino's three were welcome - but they were also all pretty straightforward. The first two were tap-ins thanks to James Milner's low cross into the six-yard area and the ball running loose from a desperate Ben Foster save after Craig Cathcart had turned the ball towards his own goal.

There was a bit more to the Brazilian's third as he ran forward with intelligence, something no defender countered, after Neco Williams had crossed.

But there was no doubting Salah's was the goal of the game.

Surrounded by three players on the edge of the Watford box, through a combination of speed, dexterity and brilliant close control, Salah got rid of them all before finding the target with his usual unerring accuracy.

It means he has now scored in eight successive matches in all competitions and in nine out of 10 in total, underlining why Liverpool are so keen for him to sign an extension to his current contract, which has less than two years to run.

Watford are next in action against Everton at Goodison Park on Saturday, 23 October (15:00 BST). Liverpool are at Atletico Madrid in the Champions League on Tuesday (20:00). Their next Premier League game is at Manchester United on Sunday, 24 October (16:30).

Player of the match

Roberto FirminoRoberto Firmino

with an average of 9.00

Watford

  1. Squad number1Player nameFoster
    Average rating

    5.85

  2. Squad number19Player nameSissoko
    Average rating

    4.99

  3. Squad number23Player nameSarr
    Average rating

    4.65

  4. Squad number2Player nameNgakia
    Average rating

    4.57

  5. Squad number10Player nameJoão Pedro
    Average rating

    4.39

  6. Squad number29Player nameCucho Hernández
    Average rating

    4.15

  7. Squad number21Player nameKiko Femenía
    Average rating

    4.14

  8. Squad number25Player nameDennis
    Average rating

    4.04

  9. Squad number8Player nameCleverley
    Average rating

    4.01

  10. Squad number15Player nameCathcart
    Average rating

    3.96

  11. Squad number33Player nameKucka
    Average rating

    3.89

  12. Squad number5Player nameTroost-Ekong
    Average rating

    3.85

  13. Squad number11Player nameMasina
    Average rating

    3.75

  14. Squad number3Player nameRose
    Average rating

    3.02

Liverpool

  1. Squad number9Player nameRoberto Firmino
    Average rating

    9.00

  2. Squad number11Player nameMohamed Salah
    Average rating

    8.95

  3. Squad number10Player nameMané
    Average rating

    8.58

  4. Squad number4Player namevan Dijk
    Average rating

    8.26

  5. Squad number66Player nameAlexander-Arnold
    Average rating

    8.16

  6. Squad number32Player nameMatip
    Average rating

    8.10

  7. Squad number26Player nameRobertson
    Average rating

    8.08

  8. Squad number7Player nameMilner
    Average rating

    8.03

  9. Squad number14Player nameHenderson
    Average rating

    7.91

  10. Squad number62Player nameKelleher
    Average rating

    7.88

  11. Squad number8Player nameKeïta
    Average rating

    7.78

  12. Squad number76Player nameN Williams
    Average rating

    7.61

  13. Squad number21Player nameTsimikas
    Average rating

    7.61

  14. Squad number15Player nameOxlade-Chamberlain
    Average rating

    7.37

Line-ups

Watford

Formation 5-4-1

  • 1Foster
  • 21FemeníaSubstituted forNgakiaat 56'minutes
  • 15Cathcart
  • 5Troost-Ekong
  • 3Rose
  • 11MasinaSubstituted forCleverleyat 45'minutes
  • 25DennisSubstituted forJoão Pedroat 69'minutes
  • 33Kucka
  • 19Sissoko
  • 29Hernández
  • 23Sarr

Substitutes

  • 2Ngakia
  • 6Louza
  • 8Cleverley
  • 10João Pedro
  • 12Sema
  • 16Gosling
  • 17Fletcher
  • 18Tufan
  • 26Bachmann

Liverpool

Formation 4-3-3

  • 62Kelleher
  • 66Alexander-ArnoldSubstituted forOxlade-Chamberlainat 64'minutes
  • 32Matip
  • 4van Dijk
  • 26RobertsonSubstituted forTsimikasat 64'minutes
  • 7MilnerSubstituted forN Williamsat 83'minutes
  • 14Henderson
  • 8Keïta
  • 11Salah
  • 9Firmino
  • 10Mané

Substitutes

  • 5Konaté
  • 12Gomez
  • 13Adrián
  • 15Oxlade-Chamberlain
  • 18Minamino
  • 20Jota
  • 21Tsimikas
  • 27Origi
  • 76N Williams
Referee:
Jonathan Moss
Attendance:
21,085

Match Stats

Home TeamWatfordAway TeamLiverpool
Possession
Home24%
Away76%
Shots
Home6
Away19
Shots on Target
Home2
Away8
Corners
Home1
Away9
Fouls
Home4
Away10

Live Text

  1. Post update

    Match ends, Watford 0, Liverpool 5.

  2. Full Time

    Second Half ends, Watford 0, Liverpool 5.

  3. Goal!

    Goal! Watford 0, Liverpool 5. Roberto Firmino (Liverpool) right footed shot from the left side of the six yard box to the centre of the goal. Assisted by Neco Williams.

  4. Post update

    Offside, Watford. João Pedro tries a through ball, but Ismaila Sarr is caught offside.

  5. Post update

    Sadio Mané (Liverpool) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  6. Post update

    Foul by Jeremy Ngakia (Watford).

  7. Post update

    Attempt missed. Ismaila Sarr (Watford) header from the centre of the box misses to the left. Assisted by Jeremy Ngakia with a cross.

  8. Post update

    Offside, Watford. João Pedro tries a through ball, but Juraj Kucka is caught offside.

  9. Post update

    Attempt blocked. Cucho Hernández (Watford) right footed shot from the left side of the box is blocked. Assisted by Moussa Sissoko.

  10. Post update

    Offside, Watford. Ismaila Sarr tries a through ball, but João Pedro is caught offside.

  11. Post update

    Attempt saved. Ismaila Sarr (Watford) right footed shot from the left side of the box is saved in the bottom left corner. Assisted by João Pedro.

  12. Substitution

    Substitution, Liverpool. Neco Williams replaces James Milner.

  13. Post update

    Foul by Konstantinos Tsimikas (Liverpool).

  14. Post update

    Juraj Kucka (Watford) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  15. Post update

    Offside, Watford. Jeremy Ngakia tries a through ball, but João Pedro is caught offside.

  16. Post update

    Attempt saved. Sadio Mané (Liverpool) header from the centre of the box is saved in the top centre of the goal. Assisted by James Milner with a cross.

  17. Post update

    Attempt missed. Ismaila Sarr (Watford) right footed shot from the centre of the box is high and wide to the left following a corner.

  18. Post update

    Corner, Watford. Conceded by James Milner.

  19. Post update

    Foul by Naby Keïta (Liverpool).

  20. Post update

    Cucho Hernández (Watford) wins a free kick on the left wing.

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