London, October 16: Liverpool romped to a convincing 5-0 win over Watford at Vicarage Road with Roberto Firmino netting a hat-trick as the Hornets produced a hapless showing in Claudio Ranieri's first game in charge.
Sadio Mane opened the scoring with his 100th Premier League goal, calmly finishing first-time into the bottom corner from Mohamed Salah's lovely ball in behind.
Firmino profited from poor Watford defending to find the net either side of half-time, tapping in from James Milner's pass after the home defence had been carved open, before pouncing on a loose ball from a badly defended cross.
Salah then scored a sensational solo goal, making a mockery of three defenders' attempts to win the ball from him before curling emphatically into the far corner, while Firmino struck again in stoppage-time to compound the hosts' misery.
Salah's stupendous goal at Watford drew immediate comparisons with Lionel Messi.
Former England striker Gary Lineker compared the wonder strike to a Lionel Messi special after the Egyptian put Jurgen Klopp's Reds 4-0 up at Vicarage Road, on the way to a 5-0 win.
Salah received the ball on the edge of the Watford penalty area and was surrounded by home defenders, but he showed supreme close control to weave a path beyond Craig Cathcart, Juan Hernandez and Juraj Kucka before whipping a clinical finish into the far corner.
It was a goal that had the hallmarks of a Messi or Diego Maradona masterpiece, with Salah's astonishing footwork leaving the defenders powerless to stop him extending Liverpool's lead.
"My, my. Mo has morphed into Messi," Lineker wrote on Twitter.
My, my. Mo has morphed into Messi.— Gary Lineker 💙 (@GaryLineker) October 16, 2021
The goal means Salah has now scored in each of his past eight games for Liverpool; the longest run of scoring in consecutive appearances for the club since Daniel Sturridge in February 2014, also a run of eight matches.
Another Liverpool great -- Jamie Carragher'-- s instant verdict was: "Best player in the world right now."
The former Liverpool defender's excitement was matched by all-time Reds top scorer Ian Rush, who used an Arabic term of approval to describe Salah's goal.
"Mashallah @MoSalah The best!" Rush tweeted.
Alan Shearer, the Premier League's record scorer, described the goal as "brilliant", and Liverpool's own Twitter match commentary enthused about the Salah strike.
It came two weeks after his majestic goal against Manchester City, with Salah said by some on social media to be putting together his own goal of the season competition.
⚽️ Mane x Salah x Firmino ⚽️— Liverpool FC (@LFC) October 16, 2021
1⃣2⃣ goals in their last three games for the Reds 🔥 pic.twitter.com/wXx6ujZ2CZ
The effort was his reward for persistence, with Salah's strike his fifth attempt of the game. It was also his ninth goal in seven games in the Premier League against Watford.
The flow of goals from Liverpool amounted to dismal news for Watford's new boss, Ranieri.