Liverpool shot themselves in the foot from set-pieces once again, as the new season got underway with the Reds showing plenty of frailties that were hoped to be a thing of the past.
Miguel Britos’ 94th minute equaliser should have been called offside, but the assistant referee kept his flag down, leaving Marco Silva to take a point in his first match in charge of Watford.
Liverpool’s earlier defending had been horrific.
Stefano Okaka scored the first from a corner after eight minutes, when he was allowed to run onto a cross unchallenged to head the ball in. Roberto Firmino let his man run across him, whilst no one else picked the bulky forward up.
Having started very well, Liverpool were knocked by conceding so easily, and took a long time to get going again.
After half an hour, a superb team move involving Emre Can and Sadio Mane ended with the Senegalese winger shooting an inch-perfect effort into the top corner to equalise.
Almost as soon as they were level, however, Abdoulaye Doucoure put the Reds behind again, with more comical defending.
Tom Cleverley was left free, but was unable to convert, but the ball fell kindly for Doucoure, who fired home.
At half-time, Liverpool needed to be shocked into life. Mo Salah had been poor, wasting a couple of chances, and the centre of the defence was having huge issues.
Ten minutes after half-time, Liverpool won a penalty through Salah, who was taken down by Heurelho Gomes. Referee Anthony Taylor took an age to blow, but it was stonewall.
With James Milner only on the bench, Firmino stepped up and coolly scored, slotting into the bottom left corner.
Two minutes later, the Brazilian, missing his partner in crime Philippe Coutinho, looped the ball over the outrushing Gomes, with Salah able to bundle the ball over the line.
Liverpool were able to control the game from then on, but the drama was yet to be completed.
Simon Mignolet was booked for time wasting as Liverpool tried to hold on, but they were unable to.
In the fourth minute of added time, a corner was once again poorly defended, with Gini Wijnaldum unable to clear his lines. The ball fell for new signing Richarlison to shoot.
Mignolet was impeded by Britos, in an offside position, before the centre back headed the ball in after it rebounded off the crossbar.
A poor refereeing decision cost Liverpool the chance of all three points which the brilliant attacking play in the second half had warranted, but the defending from set-pieces, a common issue for the team, was the underlying difference.
Jurgen Klopp could not hide his disappointment at the assistant referee, but in the end his team were too fragile to compete with Watford.
He will have to hope the signing of Virgil van Dijk is imminent and can change that, but Liverpool have to recover quickly. 1899 Hoffenheim lie ahead on Tuesday night in the Champions League qualifier, and if Liverpool are not fully focused there, their season could fall apart before it has even begun.
Simon Mignolet, 6 – not really at fault for the goals but looked indecisive and nervous when collecting the ball. Some shocking distribution too, with a few passes going straight out of play.
Trent Alexander-Arnold, 7 – did nothing wrong and played some good balls into the box from free-kicks and corners. One of the better performers.
Joel Matip, 6 – struggled to cope with Okaka at times and dallied on the ball for too long.
Dejan Lovren, 6 – was all over the place in the first half. Improved in the second, but it is blatantly obvious why Klopp is prepared to pay so much for Van Dijk. Lovren looked like he needed waking up.
Alberto Moreno, 7 – probably the best defender on the pitch, in a game which lacked defending. Looked assured and offered a threat going the other way at times. A good start.
Jordan Henderson, 6 – played some nice passes, but another taking too long on the ball. He has missed lots of football and will get better.
Emre Can, 7 – drove forward well and looked good, but also made one or two poor decisions. Still searching for full fitness.
Gini Wijnaldum, 7 – could easily have scored and lost the ball a couple of times, but also did some good things. He will be needed again on Tuesday with very few other options.
Mohamed Salah, 7 – some shocking misses and a lack of composure in the first half but won the penalty and then scored in the second. Will improve, but it was a decent start overall.
Roberto Firmino, 7 – showed some excellent touches and held the ball up well at times. Scored the penalty with ease and looked comfortable as Liverpool’s number nine.
Sadio Mane, 7 – brilliant goal and did a lot well, but still looking for sharpness. Got a harsh yellow card.
Divock Origi (82nd minute sub.), 5 – brought on to hold the ball up but really struggled. Hardly had a kick in his short time on the pitch.
James Milner (86th minute sub.), n/a
Joe Gomez (90th minute sub.), n/a
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