Sunday 25 February 2018

Liverpool defensive problems evident as Watford grab last-gasp draw

Watford 3 Liverpool 3

Watford's Miguel Britos scores their third goal
Watford's Miguel Britos scores their third goal

Mark Mann-Bryans

Miguel Britos scrambled home a controversial injury-time equaliser as Watford held Liverpool in a six-goal thriller at Vicarage Road.

The Reds looked as though they had put all speculation and uncertainty over Philippe Coutinho's future to one side to win their opening Premier League clash - only for Britos to head home from point-black range in the dying moments to seal a 3-3 draw.

Stefano Okaka opened the scoring with just eight minutes gone, with Abdoulaye Doucoure re-establishing the Hornets lead shortly after Sadio Mane had equalised.

Liverpool rallied and Roberto Firmino levelled from the penalty spot after debutant Mohamed Salah was fouled, with the Egypt international then poking the visitors ahead only for Britos to pounce late on and give Marco Silva a positive first outing as Watford boss.

Following on from Arsenal's 4-3 win over Leicester on Friday night, more questionable defending meant the goals continued to flow, although two of Watford's strikes - including Britos' late leveller - appeared to be offside.

The hosts started well and looked to catch Liverpool cold as Okaka slipped in Roberto Pereyra who cut inside before his shot was blocked behind by Dejan Lovren

Liverpool's Mohamed Salah with Roberto Firmino
Liverpool's Mohamed Salah with Roberto Firmino

They were ahead from the resulting corner, Okaka arriving unmarked to head home Pereyra's cross from four yards out.

Liverpool were struggling to impose themselves on the game but levelled after a fantastic move which was started and finished by Mane.

The Senegal forward played a pass out to Alberto Moreno before bursting into the Watford box to latch onto Emre Can's weighted ball and finishing past Heurelho Gomes.

Instead of building on their equaliser, Liverpool were behind again just 161 seconds later as Doucoure benefited from more poor defending to slot home after Trent Alexander-Arnold could only hook Tom Cleverley's cross against team-mate Joel Matip.

Liverpool were right to feel aggrieved to slip behind again as Okaka was involved in the move despite appearing to be offside in the build-up

Former Chelsea winger Salah was making his debut but he could only blaze high over the bar when well-placed.

Liverpool's Mohamed Salah celebrates scoring his side's third goal
Liverpool's Mohamed Salah celebrates scoring his side's third goal

Mane headed inches wide in first-half stoppage-time as Klopp's side looked to head into the interval level.

Having already lost Daryl Janmaat to injury early in the contest, Watford were forced to replace Pereyra soon after the restart as Richarlison came on for his debut.

Liverpool levelled for a second time as Firmino tucked home a 55th-minute penalty after Salah had been brought down in the box by Gomes.

Moments later and the Reds were ahead as Firmino was played onside by Britos before lobbing an attempt over Gomes that was turned home by club-record signing Salah.

Andre Gray was thrown on by Silva in response to falling behind for the first time but it was Matip who headed against the crossbar for Liverpool before Dejan Lovren forced a fine stop out of Gomes.

Those missed opportunities would be rued by Reds' boss Jurgen Klopp as Britos headed home from on the line after Jose Holebas' corner dropped kindly following a ricochet.


"Blimey! 12 goals in 2.5 hours football. Might need to extend @BBCMOTD tonight" - Match of the Day host and former England striker Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) is not sure all the action from the opening two games can fit on the show.


Roberto Firmino. With all the talk surrounding the future of Coutinho, it was his Brazil team-mate who stirred Liverpool here. After a quiet first half, the forward coolly dispatched his penalty to send Heurelho Gomes the wrong way and draw the Reds level. Just two minutes later he turned provider, whether he meant to or not, as his lob over Gomes was poked home by Salah.


Britos' goal may have been scrappy, and potentially offside, but it came at just the right time for Watford to take a share of the spoils. With the five minutes of stoppage time almost elapsed, the defender was on hand to prod the ball over the line to give the Hornets the point that their performance deserved.


The six goals here, coupled with Arsenal's 4-3 victory over Leicester on Friday night, means that after two games of the new campaign, the Premier League is averaging a goal every 13 minutes.



Heurelho Gomes: 5

Daryl Janmaat: 5

Younes Kaboul: 6

Miguel Britos: 6

Jose Holebas: 6

Abdoulaye Doucoure: 7

Nathaniel Chalobah: 7

Nordin Amrabat: 6

Tom Cleverley: 7

Roberto Pereyra: 7

Stefano Okaka: 7


Kiko Femenia (for Janmaat, 17): 6

Richarlison (for Pereyra, 49): 6

Andre Gray (for Okaka, 63): 6


Simon Mignolet: 5

Trent Alexander-Arnold: 6

Joel Matip: 7

Dejan Lovren: 6

Alberto Moreno: 6

Jordan Henderson: 6

Emre Can: 7

Georginio Wijnaldum: 6

Mohamed Salah: 7

Sadio Mane: 7

Roberto Firmino: 8


Divock Origi (for Firmino, 81): 6

James Milner (for Salah, 86): 6

Joe Gomez (for Alexander-Arnold, 90): 6


Bournemouth v Watford (Premier League, August 19)

Hoffenheim v Liverpool (Champions League play-offs, August 15)

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