Liverpool registered a 10th successive win in the Premier League after defeating Watford 2-0 at Anfield on Saturday afternoon.
Sadio Mane and Trent Alexander-Arnold were named on the bench by Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp, but Mane’s countrymen Ismaila Sarr was recalled by the Hornets.
It was a labouring first 12 minutes for the title-chasing Reds and almost had the visitors ahead from a smart header by Cucho Hernandez through a pin-point corner-kick.
Watford should’ve had the lead midway in the first half when Juraj Kucka outran the defence to go level with Alisson Becker, but had the Brazilian international parry him from point-blank range.
That was a chance they would live to rue immediately thereafter, as a cross from the right-side by Joe Gomez saw Diogo Jota rise to head in and give the Reds the lead against the run of play.
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Jota could’ve finished the first half with a brace, but had his close-range attempt parried by a charging Ben Foster in the Hornets goal with the defence stretched.
Liverpool’s command on the relegation-threatened Hornets remained just as the second half commenced, with Jota, Curtis Jones and Virgil Van Dijk allowed a look in.
Klopp’s men were in complete control a little before the last 30 minutes whereby a floating free-kick into the area from Gomez watched Jota nod over.
With the balance of play unstable, the Reds decided to bring Mane onto the field of play and removed Mohamed Salah in the closing period.
Liverpool made the points safe a minute before time when a foul on Jota by Kucka led to a penalty, which Fabinho converted after the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) intervened to award the spot-kick.
The Reds looked for a third in the remaining seconds through Mane, but Foster thwarted and left the host to victory regardless.