Match ends, Liverpool 5, Watford 0.
Jurgen Klopp feels Liverpool proved some doubters wrong after they turned on the style to crush Watford at Anfield and stay top of the Premier League.
The Reds had dropped six points in their previous four top-flight games but two goals each by Sadio Mane and Virgil van Dijk, as well as another from Divock Origi, helped them to their biggest win of the season.
"You know what was written and said about us. It is of course not right," Klopp told BBC Sport afterwards.
"These boys are outstanding and today they showed so much passion."
With 10 games of the league season left, Liverpool stay one point clear of nearest rivals Manchester City, who beat West Ham 1-0 on Wednesday.
Klopp's side were 2-0 ahead in 20 minutes 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, including one from another Alexander-Arnold assist.
Rampant Reds back in the groove
Klopp went on the pitch at the full-time whistle to applaud Liverpool's fans and headed back to the dressing room with a huge smile and 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 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 time 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 in front of the Kop.
Before this game, Van Dijk had scored one goal for his club this season but found the net twice in the space of three minutes as Watford caved in.
Liverpool will face tougher opponents during the run-in, while they will be replaced at the top of the table on Saturday if City avoid defeat at Bournemouth as Klopp's side are not in action until Sunday at Everton.
However, there is fresh optimism at Anfield after a resounding win.
"We have 69 points," added Klopp.
"We could have had 75 but we are having a really good season. Let's enjoy the ride and see where it takes us."
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' this season - and they rarely looked like getting back into the match 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.
"Our target was to win but when you find an opponent like Liverpool then it's very hard to get the points," said Gracia.
"It's important to be calm and keep confidence in ourselves now because our levels have been good."
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.
Man of the match - Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool)
Why Anfield is a fortress - the stats
- Liverpool are now unbeaten at Anfield in the Premier League in their past 35 matches, the first side in the competition to reach this number of matches without defeat since Manchester City in December 2012 (37 games).
- Watford have become the first side in Premier League history to concede at least five goals in three successive away matches against a single opponent in the competition.
- Sadio Mane's double for Liverpool were his 13th and 14th Premier League goals of the season.
- Divock Origi has had a hand in 11 goals in his past 18 Premier League starts for Liverpool (seven goals, four assists).
Liverpool now turn their attention to neighbours Everton and Sunday's Merseyside derby at Goodison Park (16:15 GMT). On the same day Watford host Leicester City in Brendan Rodgers' first match in charge of the Foxes (12:00 GMT).
- 4van Dijk
- 7MilnerSubstituted forHendersonat 70'minutes
- 5WijnaldumSubstituted forKeitaat 84'minutes
- 10ManéSubstituted forLallanaat 78'minutes
- 15CathcartBooked at 79mins
- 11MasinaBooked at 82mins
- 37PereyraSubstituted forSemaat 84'minutes
- 9DeeneySubstituted forGrayat 73'minutes
- 7DeulofeuSubstituted forCleverleyat 73'minutes
- Graham Scott
- Shots on Target
Second Half ends, Liverpool 5, Watford 0.
Corner, Liverpool. Conceded by Adrian Mariappa.
Corner, Liverpool. Conceded by Craig Cathcart.
Corner, Watford. Conceded by Fabinho.
Substitution, Watford. Ken Sema replaces Roberto Pereyra.
Substitution, Liverpool. Naby Keita replaces Georginio Wijnaldum.
Goal! Liverpool 5, Watford 0. Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool) header from the centre of the box to the bottom right corner. Assisted by Andrew Robertson with a cross following a set piece situation.
Adam Masina (Watford) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Mohamed Salah (Liverpool) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Foul by Adam Masina (Watford).
Jordan Henderson (Liverpool) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Roberto Pereyra (Watford).
Goal! Liverpool 4, Watford 0. Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool) header from very close range to the bottom right corner. Assisted by Trent Alexander-Arnold with a cross following a set piece situation.
Craig Cathcart (Watford) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Adam Lallana (Liverpool) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Foul by Craig Cathcart (Watford).
Substitution, Liverpool. Adam Lallana replaces Sadio Mané.
Offside, Watford. Abdoulaye Doucouré tries a through ball, but Adam Masina is caught offside.
Corner, Watford. Conceded by Alisson.