Jota, Fabinho fire Liverpool to top of the table with win over Watford

April 2, 2022 Liverpool's Fabinho celebrates scoring their second goal with Jordan Henderson REUTERS

Liverpool leapfrogged champions Manchester City to the top of the Premier League table with a 2-0 win over Watford at Anfield on Saturday thanks to a first-half header by Diogo Jota and a late Fabinho penalty.

The hosts grabbed the lead moments after goalkeeper Alisson Becker denied Watford's Juraj Kucka with a sharp save, as Jota timed his run to perfection at the other end and nodded in a cross from Joe Gomez in the 22nd minute.

It was Portuguese forward Jota's 14th league goal and 20th in all competitions this season, and the 25-year-old could have added to his tally shortly afterwards but for goalkeeper Ben Foster, who saved his effort from close range.

"It was the beginning of a new cycle today (following the international break). People were coming from all over the world and an early kickoff isn't easy, but we did our job," Jota told BT Sport.

"I told Joe before the game he was going to get an assist... Today I was confident and fortunately for us it happened."

Substitute Fabinho made sure of the three points in the 89th minute by blasting his kick into the top corner after the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) spotted a foul by Kucka on Jota in the penalty area.

The result meant Liverpool have 72 points from 30 matches, two points more than City ahead of the two sides' blockbuster clash next weekend.

Pep Guardiola's men can reclaim their lead and a one-point advantage if they beat Burnley later on Saturday.

Klopp, who marked his 250th Premier League game in charge of Liverpool with his 160th victory, was pleased with their display.

"We could definitely have done better but that's not too interesting. We need maturity and desire, and the counter-press was the best I have seen for a long time," Klopp said.

"But with the ball we could have been more creative. We were in control and I was happy about it."

Former Liverpool boss Roy Hodgson's relegation-threatened Watford pushed for an equaliser in the second half but could not prevent the home side from wrapping up a 10th straight league victory. Watford remain 18th with 22 points.

"There was a lot to admire in the performance. I'm a bit saddened by the VAR decision at the end," Hodgson said. "There was no appeal from any Liverpool player for a penalty.

"Klopp and I had no idea what they were checking or what they were doing... I don't think that's what VAR is about. VAR's done some good things this season, but it's not about giving a team a second goal in the 88th minute.

"To some extent it destroyed a feeling that 1-0 was a great result and we might even have created a chance in those last two minutes."

 

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