Watford surges to 3-0 win over Liverpool
WATFORD, England (AP) Jurgen Klopp was left wondering how he can get Liverpool winning consistently after his side were emphatically beaten 3-0 by Watford in the Premier League on Sunday.
Two goals in the first 15 minutes from Nathan Ake and Odion Ighalo swiftly established a deserved advantage for Watford, and Ighalo sealed victory with his second strike five minutes from the end at Vicarage Road.
Defeat leaves Liverpool, whose performance was stagnant and full of mistakes, five points behind Tottenham, which occupies the fourth and final Champions League berth. Watford, which has now won four consecutive league games, is up to seventh, a point behind Spurs.
''We lost our mind after the first goal, we lost our compact formation,'' Klopp said. ''Hopefully it is the most disappointing moment in my whole Liverpool FC life from now on. Today was bad.''
Liverpool has produced impressive displays to beat Chelsea, Manchester City and Southampton since Klopp arrived in October, but his side has now not won in the Premier League since beating Swansea on Nov. 29
''If I could explain this (inconsistency), do you think we would have done it?'' Klopp said. ''But we will work on it. After Southampton (Liverpool won 6-1) everybody thought ''wow'', but now we saw the other side. I know how strong this team can be but it is my job to help them show it much more often.''
Liverpool started with Adam Bogdan replacing the injured Simon Mignolet in goal, but he made a humiliating error after three minutes, dropping a corner at the feet of Nathan Ake, who tapped in the opener.
Ighalo made it 2-0 soon after, outmuscling Martin Skrtel to reach a high ball from Watford captain Troy Deeney, before slotting clinically past Bogdan.
Klopp named a three-man attack of Philippe Coutinho, Roberto Firmino and Adam Lallana, with strikers Divock Origi and Christian Benteke on the bench. The trio propelled Liverpool to a 4-1 win against Manchester City in November but failed to replicate anything near to a similar attacking threat against a stubborn Watford defense.
They were repeatedly caught offside in the attacking third, or tackled by a Watford defender when taking too much time in possession.
When injury curtailed Skrtel's game in central defense for Liverpool after 40 minutes, Klopp opted to replace him with Origi, rather than fellow defender Kolo Toure.
It signalled his intent to galvanize Liverpool's misfiring forward line and Origi brought a low save from Watford goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes in an improved start to the second half.
But Watford soon stifled Liverpool's advances and were unfortunate not to get a third on 63. Mamadou Sakho, who produced an error-strewn display on his Liverpool return after six weeks out with injury, slipped trying to intercept a pass and Ighalo raced through on goal, only for Bogdan to palm his shot away for a corner.
Watford continued to push for a third and were rewarded shortly before the end, with Ighalo left unmarked to head in a precise delivery from Valon Behrami.
''We are fighting a lot, we are very competitive,'' Watford manager Quique Sanchez Flores said. ''I feel completely happy with the performance and the players. We are playing against amazing teams but we control the matches.''