Liverpool lead thanks to a perfect 10-game run in the Premier League
Liverpool (AFP) – Liverpool took the Premier League lead for the first time this year as Diogo Jota’s header and a late Fabinho penalty beat Watford 2-0.
Jurgen Klopp’s men are two points clear of Manchester City, who travel to Burnley later on Saturday, having trailed the English champions by 14 points just over two months ago.
The visit from the Hornets kicked off a huge month for the Reds as they remain in the hunt for a historic treble of trophies.
A potential title decider at City next weekend falls between the two legs of a Champions League quarter-final against Benfica before another encounter with City in the FA Cup semi-final.
Klopp could afford the luxury of leaving Luis Diaz and Sadio Mane on the bench after their efforts on international duty, alongside Trent Alexander-Arnold when he returned from injury.
However, the hosts didn’t have the easy afternoon that Klopp would have hoped for with tougher tests ahead.
Watford are desperate for points for their own battle to beat relegation.
Ismaila Sarr started alongside Mane as Senegal beat Mohamed Salah’s Egypt on penalties for the second time in less than two months to add World Cup qualification to Africa Cup victory of the Nations on Tuesday.
Sarr was included from the start by Roy Hodgson and was a major threat as he almost caught Alisson Becker off his line early on.
Liverpool needed the Brazilian keeper to be at his best for a few game-deciding seconds midway through the first half.
Alisson held on to parry Juraj Kucka’s powerful low effort when the Slovak was played on goal.
The home side quickly broke the other end and Alexander-Arnold’s assistant Joe Gomez swung in a cross and Jota edged past Ben Foster to head in his 20th goal of the season.
But there was nervousness around Anfield as Watford refused to wither and even had a glorious chance of equalizing in the second half.
Sarr again created danger with a flurry down the left and his severed back was split wide by Joao Pedro.
Liverpool had to wait a minute to get the two-goal cushion they wanted when Kucka beat Jota to the ground from a corner.
Salah had already been substituted for Mane by this stage, so Fabinho took responsibility from the spot and slammed into the top corner to secure Liverpool’s 10th straight Premier League win.
© 2022 AFP