Liverpool condemned Claudio Ranieri to a miserable start to life as Watford manager in a one-sided game that ended 5-0 in favour of the visitors at Vicarage Road in a Premier League fixture on Saturday.
Sadio Mane became the third African player to score 100 Premier League goals in the eighth minute after converting a curling pass from Mohamed Salah, produced from the outside of his left foot. Mane joins an exclusive club of Egypt’s Salah and Ivorian Didier Drogba as African goalscoring centurions.
Roberto Firmino got the first of his hattrick in the 37th minute after he tapped in the ball into the back of the net, thanks to James Milner’s low cross into the six-yard area.
The Brazilian striker scored his second goal in the 52nd minute after he converted a loose ball from a desperate Ben Foster save after Craig Cathcart had turned the ball towards his own goal.
Salah then scored what was, undoubtedly, the goal of the game in the 54th minute. Surrounded by three players on the edge of the Watford box, through a combination of speed, dexterity and brilliant close control, Salah got rid of them all before finding the target with his usual unerring accuracy.
It means the Egyptian has now scored in eight successive matches in all competitions and in nine out of 10 in total. Salah’s goal also takes him level with former Chelsea striker Didier Drogba as the highest-scoring African player in Premier League history with 104 goals.
Firmino got his third in added time third as he ran forward with intelligence, something no Watford defender countered after Neco Williams had crossed the all.
The hattrick is the Brazilian’s first since December 2018.
The result means Liverpool have scored three goals or more in all six away games in all competitions so far this season, something no other English top-flight side has ever managed. It also extended their unbeaten start to the season and took them back to the top of the table.
This was, however, Watford’s heaviest Premier League defeat since their eight-goal hammering by Manchester City in September 2019 and their biggest at home since the same opponents scored six here two years before that.
Elsewhere, defending champions, Manchester City defeated Burnley 2-0 at the Etihad on Saturday.
City dominated possession and created plenty of chances, they failed to extend their advantage, giving the visitors hope.
Bernardo Silva’s early strike in the 12th minute gave the hosts the lead, but Burnley gave the defending champions a few scares going forward.
Maxwel Cornet, who saw his shot saved by Zack Steffen after running clear, went close to equalising in the first half, as did Josh Brownhill, who fizzed his shot inches wide.
City were misfiring too, with Riyad Mahrez another of their players failing to make the most of his recall – the closest he came with his four efforts at goal was when he blasted another Silva cut-back against the bar.
It could have made for a nervous finale for City’s fans, if not for Kevin de Bruyne’s cool finish with 20 minutes to go, curling his shot home when the ball broke to him inside the box after Burnley failed to clear their lines.
The win moves City into second place, a point behind leaders Liverpool. Burnley remain in the bottom three, still without a league win this season.
At the King Power Stadium, Leicester City increased the pressure on Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as they ran out fully deserved 4-2 winners in a thriller.
It all started so well for United when Mason Greenwood’s brilliant long-range strike put them in front after 18 minutes but Leicester were level before half-time when the returning Harry Maguire, who had a nightmare afternoon, was robbed by Kelechi Iheanacho to set up Youri Tielemans for a sweeping finish.
Leicester City were vastly superior after the break and went ahead when Caglar Soyuncu sparked a flurry of late goals when he pounced in a goalmouth scramble with 12 minutes to go.
Marcus Rashford, back as a substitute after three months out following shoulder surgery, looked to have got United out of the hole when he ran on to Victor Lindelof’s long ball to apply an emphatic finish four minutes later.
It was a sign of just how bad United were that they were behind again straight from the restart when Ayoze Perez pulled the ball back for Jamie Vardy to flash a finish high past David de Gea.
There was to be no comeback this time and Patson Daka bundled in at the far post for the fourth in stoppage time.