Watford 3-3 Liverpool: Miguel Britos' stoppage-time strike denies Reds win
By Oliver Yew
Last Updated: 12/08/17 8:59pm
Miguel Britos struck deep into stoppage time as Watford secured a late point following a 3-3 draw with Liverpool at Vicarage Road on Saturday.
The Premier League returned in thrilling fashion on Friday night with Arsenal's dramatic 4-3 win over Leicester and the goals continued to flow at Vicarage Road with Stefano Okaka (8) and Sadio Mane (29) exchanging strikes.
Watford, led by Marco Silva for the first time in the Premier League, regained the lead soon after through Abdoulaye Doucoure (32) but second-half goals from Roberto Firmino (54) and Mohamed Salah (57) saw Jurgen Klopp's side turn the game on its head.
And Liverpool, who hit the crossbar through Joel Matip, looked to be heading for all three points until Britos (90+4) struck to rescue a point for the Hornets.
Marco Silva named just one of his seven summer signings in his first Watford team. Nathan Chalobah – snapped up from Chelsea – was handed a midfield role but club record signing Andre Gray was named on the bench. Troy Deeney missed out through injury.
Jurgen Klopp, who was without the injured Philippe Coutinho, handed Alberto Moreno a rare start at left-back ahead of James Milner, who was named on the bench. Jordan Henderson was fit to start as was new signing Mohamed Salah.
Much of the build-up was dominated by the speculation surrounding Philippe Coutinho's future at Anfield which was an unwelcome distraction for Klopp and his side ahead of the season opener.
Liverpool's set piece problem
Liverpool's set piece problem was exposed as they were held to a 3-3 draw by Watford at Vicarage Road.
They had further problems just nine minutes in as Okaka ghosted into the box unopposed to head Jose Holebas' corner past Simon Mignolet from close range to give Silva the perfect start to his Watford reign.
Home Team: Gomes (7), Janmaat (5), Kaboul (7), Britos (7), Holebas (6), Chalobah (6), Doucoure (7), Amrabat (6), Cleverley (7), Pereyra (6), Okaka (7).
Subs used: Femenia (6), Gray (6), Richarlison (6)
Away Team: Mignolet (6), Alexander-Arnold (6), Lovren (5), Matip (5), Moreno (6), Henderson (6), Can (7), Wijnaldum (6), Salah (8), Mane (7), Firmino (6).
Subs: Milner (n/a), Gomez (n/a), Origi (n/a)
Man of the match: Mohamed Salah
Liverpool had hardly had a kick but found themselves back on level terms in the 29th minute when Emre Can's sensational flick picked out Mane, who curled the ball into the top corner.
However, Klopp's men were level for all of three minutes as Watford, who replaced the injured Daryl Janmaat with Kiko Femenia, took advantage of more poor Liverpool defending through Doucoure's close-range finish.
Immediately after the break Watford lost Roberto Pereyra to injury, handing Richarlison his Premier League debut, and they lost their lead, Firmino making no mistake from the spot after Salah was brought down by Heurelho Gomes.
Liverpool completed the turnaround three minutes later. Dejan Lovren's long ball picked out Firmino, who lifted the ball over the onrushing Gomes, leaving Salah to bundle the ball home from close range to secure a debut goal.
The visitors went close to extending their lead when Matip's header cannoned back off the crossbar and Salah's shot rustled the side netting, but missed chances came back to haunt the Reds deep into injury time.
Mignolet parried Richarlison's shot onto the bar but the ball dropped to Britos, who bundled the ball over the line to secure a share of the spoils.
- Watford are unbeaten in their last 11 opening day league games (W5 D6).
- Liverpool failed to win an opening day Premier League game for the first time since 2012/13.
- Six of Stefano Okaka's seven Premier League goals have come in home matches.
- Sadio Mane has scored with his first shot on target in the Premier League in both the 2016/17 and 2017/18 seasons.
- Mohamed Salah is the 12th different player to score on his Premier League debut for Liverpool.
Man of the Match - Mohamed Salah
Andy Hinchcliffe: Liverpool needed to turn things around drastically at half-time and the player that did that for them in the second half was Salah.
With no Coutinho, Liverpool were looking to Salah to be this inspiration, this creative spark and his pace and his movement off the ball is absolutely superb.
He got his goal, which was not the most glamourous he'll ever score but his second-half performance, including winning the penalty, was outstanding.
Manager reaction - Jurgen Klopp
"They didn't create too much with the ball but of course they scored two goals and in a specific situation where everyone will say, 'Oh, it was a set-piece'
"We defended most of them really well, but at the end is it enough if we concede one goal? No. We have to work on it."
Pundit view - Jamie Carragher
"On set pieces it's not about the defenders. The way Liverpool are set up - set piece wise - they will always concede goals. No matter which defenders they buy or how much they cost - it won't make a difference."
It's European action up next for Liverpool as they look to bounce back from their opening day draw. Klopp's side travel to the Rhein-Neckar-Arena to face Hoffenheim for the first leg of their Champions League play-off.
Meanwhile, Watford will be hoping to build on the point when they return to Premier League action next Saturday, August 19 at Bournemouth.