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

LIVERPOOL : 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.

Substitute Fabinho made sure of the three points in the 89th minute by blasting his spot kick into the top corner after the Video Assistant Referee 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.

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.

(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

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