Two goals from Odion Ighalo helped to give Watford an impressive 3-0 win over Liverpool at Vicarage Road on Sunday, their fourth consecutive Premier League triumph.
A dreadful mistake from Adam Bogdan, who was replacing the injured Simon Mignolet in Liverpool’s goal, allowed Nathan Ake to score a simple opener.
Ighalo, who now has 12 Premier League goals this season, netted shortly after with a neat finish before sealing the victory with a header five minutes from time to pile on the misery for the visitors, who never looked like launching a comeback.
The convincing win puts in-form Watford within one point of Tottenham in fourth place, while Liverpool remain ninth and have now won only three of nine league games since Jurgen Klopp took charge after a poor performance.
Liverpool made four alterations to their team as Bogdan, Roberto Firmino, Lucas Leiva and Mamadou Sakho came in for injured trio Dejan Lovren, Mignolet and James Milner, while Christian Benteke dropped to the bench.
Watford, who were unchanged, made a dream start in the third minute. Bogdan somehow dropped Ben Watson’s corner under little pressure, allowing Ake the simplest of tasks to tap home from a yard out as referee Mark Clattenburg ignored the keeper’s claims that he had regained control before the defender struck.
Philippe Coutinho had a shot saved by Heurelho Gomes, but the hosts scored their second after 15 minutes. Troy Deeney chipped a pass forward and Ighalo outmuscled Martin Skrtel to race on to the bouncing ball and divert an accurate finish in off the far post.
Bogdan almost made another blunder when a misunderstanding resulted in him punching the ball against Lucas, with Skrtel having to make a frantic clearance.
A miserable first half got worse for Liverpool when Skrtel limped off injured prior to half-time as Divock Origi came on to replace him in a tactical switch from Klopp.
The Reds looked fired up after the break and Origi shot straight at Gomes, but it was almost game over when Jurado played a pass through to Ighalo and Sakho slipped to allow him through on goal, with Bogdan having to make a vital save.
At the other end, Jordan Henderson forced his way past Ake and struck powerfully towards goal, but Gomes made an important one-handed stop to preserve Watford’s two-goal advantage.
Emre Can had a long-range effort beaten away by Gomes, but there was to be no recovery for the visitors.
Ighalo sealed the victory with a firm header after a free-flowing counterattack had led to substitute Valon Behrami’s accurate cross from the right finding the Nigeria striker as Liverpool’s disappointing run of form continued.
Key Opta stats:
-Watford have won four consecutive top-flight games for the first time since April 1987; their joint-longest winning run (along with Nov 1982, Jan 1984, Dec 1984).
-Watford (28) have equalled their points tally from their last season in the Premier League (28 in 06/07). It’s also their joint-highest tally in a Premier League campaign.
-This was Liverpool’s biggest defeat against a newly promoted side since November 1993 (Newcastle 3-0 Liverpool).
-Indeed, Watford’s 3-0 win versus Liverpool is their biggest-ever victory over the Merseyside team.
-The Reds conceded as many goals versus Watford today as they had in their previous four Premier League meetings combined (three).
-Odion Ighalo has scored in four successive Premier League appearances for Watford, equalling Troy Deeney’s record set earlier this season.
-Odion Ighalo has scored more league goals in England’s top four tiers in 2015 than any other player (28).
-Nathan Ake scored Watford’s fastest Premier League goal in 2015/16 (02:05).