Sadio Mane and Virgil van Dijk both scored twice as Liverpool returned to winning ways with a dominant performance against Watford to stay top of the Premier League.
Jurgen Klopp’s side were 2-0 up in 20 minutes at Anfield as Senegal forward Mane headed the first before doubling the lead with an outrageous backheel, Trent Alexander-Arnold providing both assists.
Mohamed Salah hit the post before Divock Origi beat Ben Foster at his near post to make it 3-0.
Van Dijk scored two late headers as Liverpool eased to their biggest win of the season and stayed one point clear of Manchester City, who beat West Ham 1-0.
Rampant Reds back in the groove
Jurgen Klopp went on the pitch at the full-time whistle to applaud Liverpool’s fans and headed back to the dressing room with his arm draped around Alexander-Arnold’s shoulder.
The 20-year-old England defender marked his return to the side, after being left out of Sunday’s draw at Manchester United, with an outstanding performance which included three assists as poor Watford were put to the sword.
Alexander-Arnold’s pace caused the Hornets’ defence all sorts of problems while Adam Masina had a torrid evening at the hands of Salah.
This was a timely return to winning ways for Liverpool after one win in their previous five league and cup games.
Mane’s header set them on their way but it was his second which showed Liverpool had their swagger back – a spectacular backheel past Foster.
Origi has been a spectator for most of the season, but with Roberto Firmino missing because of an ankle injury, the Belgium forward marked his rare appearance with a right-foot finish.
Van Dijk had scored one goal for his club before this game but found the net twice in the space of three minutes as Watford caved in.
Liverpool will face tougher opponents during the run-in, but after dropping six points in their previous four top-flight games and with 10 league matches remaining, there is fresh optimism at Anfield after a resounding win.
Another Anfield thrashing for Watford
Watford have had a terrific season under Javi Gracia, the Spaniard guiding the Hornets to a ‘best of the rest’ seventh spot in the table and a place in the FA Cup quarter-finals.
Yet they were blown away by Liverpool in such a manner that Wolves, who were not playing, moved ahead of them because of a superior goal difference.
Watford’s last three visits to Anfield have resulted in 5-0, 5-0 and 6-1 defeats.
This was their seventh loss in eight top-flight games against the ‘big six’ – and they rarely looked like getting back into a one-sided game once Mane headed Liverpool in front inside 10 minutes.
Troy Deeney spent most the night helping out in defence as Watford were overwhelmed by the home team.
Their next away game is at Manchester City on 9 March. Liverpool will hope Gracia’s side can give a better account of themselves at Etihad Stadium than they did at Anfield.