Liverpool’s unbeaten run of success in this season’s Premier League was ended in unfathomable fashion on Saturday as struggling Watford hammered the European champions 3-0 at their ecstatic Vicarage Road stadium.
Ismaila Sarr inspired the extraordinary upset, stunning off-key Liverpool with two goals in six second-half minutes before setting up captain Troy Deeney with a third for the team who had started the day one from bottom, 55 points behind the runaway leaders.
Liverpool’s first league defeat of the season in their 28th match meant the end of their hopes of going the whole league campaign unbeaten as the new ‘Invincibles’. It also concluded their run of 44 league matches without defeat stretching back to January 2019.
It also came on the evening when they were expected to surpass champions Manchester City by creating a new English top-flight record of 19 successive league victories.
The setback will doubtless not stop Jurgen Klopp’s men going on to lift their first English title for 30 years as they still remain 22 points ahead of their nearest pursuers, yet their season’s aura of domestic invincibility was quite demolished.
Liverpool had previously dropped only two points in the league this season — their draw at Manchester United in October — but from the start, Watford attacked them with a vigour that belied their struggles in the league.
Watford, who had not won any of their previous five league games, quickly looked the more likely to break the deadlock in the first half with Gerard Deulofeu proving Liverpool’s main tormentor before he had to be taken off by stretcher with a knee injury.
Yet it was only when the Senegalese winger Sarr struck twice just before the hour mark that the Hornets dared to dream.
First, he poked home from close range after Liverpool had failed to deal with a throw-in and then, after Will Hughes had set up an attack with a neat back heel, he powered forward and lifted the ball over the advancing Alisson.
Sarr then completed his fairytale day by latching on to Trent Alexander-Arnold’s poor back pass and setting up Deeney, although he did miss a good chance to complete his hat-trick.
Liverpool never gave up and Adam Lallana hit the post with one thumping drive but, for the first time in the league this season, they had been thoroughly outplayed, as Klopp acknowledged with his generous on-field congratulations to his opponents.
For Watford, these were crucial points, as Nigel Pearson’s men moved out of the bottom three on goal difference into 17th place.