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Watford earn dramatic draw in thriller with Liverpool

By Neil Johnston | BBC Sport |

Miguel Britos scored a controversial 93rd-minute equaliser for Watford as Liverpool were held in a thrilling game at Vicarage Road.

Miguel Britos' equaliser was his second goal in two years at Watford
Miguel Britos’ equaliser was his second goal in two years at Watford (Getty Images)

The Reds, without Barcelona target Philippe Coutinho due to a back injury, fell behind to Stefano Okaka’s header.

Sadio Mane equalised with a clinical finish only for Abdoulaye Doucoure to restore the lead from close range.

Roberto Firmino’s penalty made it 2-2 before Mohamed Salah thought he had won it only for Britos to equalise.

In Jurgen Klopp’s 100th competitive game as Reds boss, Liverpool wasted a string of chances before Uruguay defender Britos headed over the line from point blank range following a ricochet.

Watford keeper Heurelho Gomes, who conceded the penalty after hauling down Salah, denied Alberto Moreno with a fingertip save.

Joel Matip also hit the bar and Dejan Lovren forced another good save from Gomes as the Reds dominated the closing stages until Watford’s late leveller.

The six-goal thriller came on the back of Friday’s opening match of the 2017-18 campaign which produced seven goals as Arsenal beat Leicester 4-3.

Familiar frailties on show for Liverpool

It was a case of new season but same old Liverpool on the opening day of the campaign.

As good as Liverpool were at going forward, their defensive frailties – which arose time and again last season – came back to haunt them.

Klopp’s side were behind after failing to defend the first corner of the match, unmarked Italian striker Okaka allowed to power home Jose Holebas’ delivery.

In the space of 161 first-half seconds, Liverpool went from outstanding at one end of the pitch to atrocious at the other.

They equalised with a sumptuous finish by Mane, the Senegal forward collecting a lovely flick by Emre Can before scoring from an angle.

It was Liverpool’s first serious attack of the game yet moments later they were trailing again after more awful defending.

The Reds’ defence made a hash of trying to clear Tom Cleverley’s low ball across the box and Doucoure slotted home from five yards – his second goal since joining Watford from Rennes in 2016.

A clumsy foul by Gomes on Salah allowed Firmino to make it 2-2 from the spot before the Brazilian turned provider with a delicious lob which enabled Salah, a £34m signing from Roma, to put his side ahead on his league debut.

It should have been the winner yet Liverpool’s defence failed to deal with another Holebas corner, allowing Britos to score three minutes into added time.

‘Watford’s equaliser was offside’

Klopp said Watford’s dramatic equaliser should not have counted because he believed it to be offside.

Britos was stood immediately in front of keeper Simon Mignolet when substitute and new signing Richarlison put the ball across goal.

“It’s obvious because the linesman is on the line. He needs to see it,” said Klopp.

“I cannot change it. We would have had defensive areas we need to work on if we’d won 3-2. We were the better team, we should have won.”

Hull boss Silva said he had not seen whether his side’s equaliser was offside.

Battling Watford show spirit under Silva

Watford were minutes away from losing a seventh successive Premier League match before Britos had the final say in Silva’s first league game in charge of the Hornets.

Seven of the side that started against Liverpool were part of the team that crumbled 5-0 at home to Manchester City on the final day of last season.

Yet the Hornets produced an encouraging performance under their new Portuguese manager which suggests they could finish higher than 17th in 2016-17.

Midfielder Nathaniel Chalobah was the only one of Silva’s six summer signings to start- club record £18.5m buy Andre Gray beginning life on the bench and coming on in the second half.

Post-match reaction

Watford manager Marco Silva said: “I think it’s a fair result. We had a very good first half, a good intensity like I wanted.

“I didn’t like the first 25 minutes of the second half. We expected a good reaction from Liverpool but we needed to be better. We made mistakes. But we reacted well.

“Our fans pushed our players on. We had some small injuries. We need to show this attitude and commitment in all our games.”

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said: “The first half I wasn’t too happy with. We passed but couldn’t see what we actually wanted.

“The second half was a lot better. We forgot to close the game. We defended a little deep. We have to push up. Both teams struggled with 90 minutes, it’s the first game. That’s normal.” BBC Sport

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