Liverpool beats Watford 2-0, goes top of Premier League table

Liverpool leapfrogged champion Manchester City with a 2-0 win over Watford at Anfield on Saturday thanks to a first-half header by Diogo Jota and a late Fabinho penalty.

Fabinho

Liverpool's Fabinho (right) celebrates scoring his side's second goal during the 2-0 Premier League win over Watford at Anfield on Saturday.   -  REUTERS

Liverpool leapfrogged champion Manchester City to the top of the Premier League table with a 2-0 win over Watford at Anfield on Saturday thanks to a first-half header by Diogo Jota and a late Fabinho penalty.

The host grabbed the lead moments after goalkeeper Alisson Becker denied Watford's Juraj Kucka with a sharp save, as Jota timed his run to perfection at the other end and nodded in a cross from Joe Gomez in the 22nd minute.

It was Portuguese forward Jota's 14th league goal and 20th in all competitions this season, and the 25-year-old could have added to his tally shortly afterwards but for goalkeeper Ben Foster, who saved his effort from close range.

"It was the beginning of a new cycle today (following the international break). People were coming from all over the world and an early kickoff isn't easy, but we did our job," Jota told BT Sport.

"I told Joe before the game he was going to get an assist... Today I was confident and fortunately for us it happened."

READ: Spurs boss Conte says top-four finish still a possibility

Substitute Fabinho made sure of the three points in the 89th minute by blasting his kick into the top corner after the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) spotted a foul by Kucka on Jota in the penalty area.

The result meant Liverpool has 72 points from 30 matches, two points more than City ahead of the two sides' blockbuster clash next weekend.

Pep Guardiola's men can reclaim their lead and a one-point advantage if they beat Burnley later on Saturday.

Klopp, who marked his 250th Premier League game in charge of Liverpool with his 160th victory, was pleased with the side's display.

"We could definitely have done better but that's not too interesting. We need maturity and desire, and the counter-press was the best I have seen for a long time," Klopp said.

"But with the ball we could have been more creative. We were in control and I was happy about it."

Former Liverpool boss Roy Hodgson's relegation-threatened Watford pushed for an equaliser in the second half but could not prevent the home side from wrapping up a 10th straight league victory. Watford remains 18th with 22 points.

"There was a lot to admire in the performance. I'm a bit saddened by the VAR decision at the end," Hodgson said. "There was no appeal from any Liverpool player for a penalty.

"Klopp and I had no idea what they were checking or what they were doing... I don't think that's what VAR is about. VAR's done some good things this season, but it's not about giving a team a second goal in the 88th minute.

"To some extent it destroyed a feeling that 1-0 was a great result and we might even have created a chance in those last two minutes."

Klopp also said that he did not expect his team to play its best game of the season immediately after the international break and praised it for rising to the challenge in an uncomfortable game.

"These games can go either way. If you score early on, then just get in a flow, it can go in one direction. But it's really unlikely that after the international break you see the best game of the season," said Klopp.

Klopp said Hodgson had drilled his relegation-threatened Watford side to make life tough for the title contenders at Anfield but the result mattered more than the performance.

"We had to work through this game against a well-organised Watford side," Klopp said.

"Roy's doing a really incredible job. At 1-0, nothing changed, they were going for counter-attacks. When the players came on, going for counter-attacks.

"It makes it uncomfortable. We had in the first half the one scary moment when Alisson (Becker) had this incredible save but we scored our goal and kept it controlled, which is the most important thing.

"Scoring the second was obviously kind of a relief. Winning the game is all we wanted. The boys delivered and so now we can carry on."

Liverpool travels to Benfica for the first leg of its Champions League quarter-final on Tuesday night before a blockbuster clash away at City next weekend. 

For more updates, follow Sportstar on :