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Premier-League-Watford-vs-Liverpool.jpg

Winners and losers as Liverpool are pegged back in stoppage time at Watford on opening weekend

Date Posted,August 11, 2017

Liverpool were left frustrated on the opening day of the season after being pegged back in stoppage time at Watford .

Miguel Britos bundled home in the 93rd minute to cancel out Mo Salah’s first Premier League goal for Liverpool , which had looked to be the game’s defining moment.

Salah finished minutes after he had won the penalty that Roberto Firmino converted.

Watford had made a fine start to proceedings with Stefano Okaka heading the hosts ahead. Sadio Mane levelled but Abdoulaye Doucoure was quick to put the Hornets back ahead.

But who caught the eye – and who endured a disappointing afternoon?

Here are Mirror Football’s winners and losers from Vicarage Road…

WINNERS

1. Sadio Mane

Mane was one of the standout performers for Liverpool (Image: REUTERS)

By far Liverpool’s most effective player on a difficult afternoon in Hertfordshire.

Mane’s movement and desire to get into goalscoring positions created the first-half equaliser, where he won the ball, played it into Emre Can for a one-two before smashing into the far corner.

But even as Liverpool fell back behind, he was the only one looking to continually get crosses into the box and take shots on goal.

Watford struggled to deal with his pace and power as he kept his side’s hopes alive.

2. Stefano Okaka

Okaka headed Watford into the lead early in the game (Image: Liverpool FC)

Probably fortunate that he was up against some below-par defending from Liverpool during the first-half, but Okaka proved to be a problem going forward.

Deceptively quick, Okaka is a powerful front man who barely lost a battle for the ball all day, bullying the Liverpool defenders until he was replaced in the 60th minute.

It was an awareness of Liverpool’s zonal marking from the corner for the first goal that got him on the scoresheet. Clearly noticing the way the visitors had set up, Okaka drifted into space and was unchallenged as he guided a header home.

Okaka certainly looked like he was playing with a point to prove, given that Andre Gray is now sat ready to take his place in the team.

3. Mohamed Salah

Mohamed Salah of Liverpool scores a goal to make the score 2-3
Salah guides the ball home to give Liverpool the lead (Image: Rex Features)

It appeared like it would not be the ideal competitive debut for Mohamed Salah, who was unable to run at the defence as often as he would have liked during the first-half.

Watford’s defenders ensured they gave themselves a yard to work every time that Salah had the ball, giving them a better chance to deal with his pace.

But the tide turned in the second 45, where he began to come into his own.

Salah’s smart footballing mind was clear for all to see as he won the penalty that brought Liverpool level in the second half, cutting inside and forcing goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes into a challenge.

As Watford began to drop off, he was able to find a few more gaps and made a determined run to put Liverpool 3-2 ahead.

LOSERS

1. Alberto Moreno

Moreno had a difficult afternoon for Liverpool (Image: PA)

Probably the most surprising team selection from Jurgen Klopp for the game was the recall of Alberto Moreno to left-back.

James Milner, who played the majority of last season in that position, was on the bench for the Reds as Moreno was given his rewards for an impressive mentality in pre-season.

But old problems remained clear for all to see, as Moreno made a string of errors early in the game, looking more like a headless chicken than a Premier League defender.

His poor challenge allowed Watford the space to get their second goal, putting Liverpool on the back foot just three minutes after they has brought themselves level.

2. Joel Matip and Dejan Lovren

Lovren had a difficult afternoon at the back (Image: Action Images via Reuters)

The two centre-backs put in a performance that will only reinforce Jurgen Klopp’s desire to sign a new centre-back.

Virgil van Dijk remains a target for the Reds and his arrival could see either of the two central men drop out of the side in order to accommodate him.

Neither covered themselves in glory during a frantic first-half at Vicarage Road.

There was no leadership from set pieces and the positioning was all over the place as Watford broke clear and got their second, with defenders quite literally falling over one another.

One – or both – of the centre-halfs could well be axed.

3. Heurelho Gomes

Gomes brought down Salah for the Liverpool penalty (Image: AFP)

Heurelho Gomes has a few clangers to his name during his time in the Premier League.

Despite being Watford’s player of the season last year, his decision to come out and challenge Mohamed Salah for the ball ultimately proved a disastrous one.

Salah, running away from goal, only needed to be shielded another step forward, but Gomes instead attempted to get down low and scoop the ball away.

Such was Salah’s pace, he just ended up bringing him down and giving Liverpool and easy route back into the match.

Five minutes later, Watford were behind.

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