Bri­tos late show de­nies Liverpool win­ning start

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

Miguel Bri­tos added to Liverpool man­ager Jur­gen Klopp’s frus­tra­tions with an added-time equaliser that en­sured Watford sal­vaged a point fol­low­ing a 3-3 draw at Vicarage Road yes­ter­day.

Klopp had spent the pre­vi­ous 24 hours han­dling the fall-out from Philippe Countinho’s trans­fer re­quest af­ter the club re­jected Barcelona’s £90 mil­lion ($117.1 mil­lion, 99 mil­lion eu­ros) bid for the Brazil play­maker.

Liverpool re­main adamant Coutinho will not leave and it looked like Klopp might find re­lief from the saga when debu­tant Mo­hamed Salah gave the vis­i­tors the lead af­ter they had twice come from be­hind. Sa­dio Mane’s 29th-minute ef­fort had can­celled out Ste­fano Okaka’s eighth-minute header, only for Ab­doulaye Doucoure to im­me­di­ately re­store the home side’s lead.

Liverpool, who were with­out Coutinho, were back level in the 55th minute through Roberto Firmino’s penalty. But with Salah’s 57th-minute goal look­ing as though it would be de­ci­sive, Bri­tos bun­dled the ball home deep in stop­page time af­ter Si­mon Mig­no­let had pushed Richarli­son’s shot against the bar.

For all the close-sea­son trans­fer deal­ings, both start­ing line-ups car­ried a fa­mil­iar look, with Nathaniel Chalobah the home side’s only new face and Salah the lone Liverpool debu­tant.

For Klopp’s side, it ap­peared to be a case of same old faces, same old prob­lems, as they al­lowed Watford to twice take the ini­tia­tive dur­ing the first half on the back of de­fen­sive er­rors.

The open­ing goal was cer­tainly one to frus­trate Klopp as Okaka took full ad­van­tage of Liverpool’s lack of or­gan­i­sa­tion as they failed to de­fend Jose Hole­bas’s cor­ner. Roberto Pereyra had bro­ken threat­en­ingly af­ter be­ing sent clear by Okaka and was un­for­tu­nate to see his shot de­flected wide off De­jan Lovren fol­low­ing a twist­ing run that had opened up the vis­i­tors’ de­fence.

Hole­bas swung in the re­sult­ing cor­ner to­wards the near post, where it was headed home by Okaka, who had been al­lowed to ad­vance unchecked, with Roberto Firmino in par­tic­u­lar guilty of fail­ing to re­act.

It was the per­fect start for Watford man­ager Marco Silva, but for Klopp it was an early re­minder of the prob­lems that need to be erad­i­cated if Liverpool are to prove gen­uine ti­tle contenders. The other side of Liverpool was demon­strated 21 min­utes later when Mane lev­elled in spec­tac­u­lar fash­ion.

The Sene­galese for­ward, who started the game on the left, picked up the ball on the right and worked his way across the pitch be­fore ex­chang­ing passes with Al­berto Moreno.

Moreno played the ball in to Emre Can, whose flick set up Mane for a pre­cise fin­ish.

It was an in­ci­sive break­through, but the good work was al­most im­me­di­ately un­done when Watford made their way too eas­ily down the right-hand flank in the build-up to Doucoure’s goal.

Doucoure was at the heart of the move, re­leas­ing Tom Clev­er­ley, whose low cross was met with an at­tempted clear­ance by Trent Alexan­der-Arnold.

But the ball ric­o­cheted off team-mate Joel Matip’s back, al­low­ing Doucoure to add the home side’s sec­ond. Once again Liverpool had been re­spon­si­ble for their own plight, al­though Watford’s pos­i­tive ap­proach was un­set­tling Klopp’s side.

The vis­i­tors’ re­sponse in the sec­ond half con­firmed the at­tack­ing strengths of this Liverpool side.

Within 10 min­utes of the restart, the Reds were back level af­ter a su­perb flick by Firmino sent Salah clear. The winger was brought down by Heurelho Gomes as he at­tempted to round the goal­keeper and Firmino fin­ished from the penalty spot.

Three min­utes later, Firmino again pro­duced a mo­ment of ex­cep­tional skill as he made up for his er­ror on the open­ing goal.

The striker brought down Moreno’s floated pass be­fore lift­ing the ball over the ad­vanc­ing Gomes and Salah en­sured the chance was not wasted by bundling home from close range.

Liverpool’s vic­tory looked as­sured, only for Bri­tos to re­ward Watford’s per­sis­tence at the death. —AFP

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