Firmino, Salah ruin Ranieri’s Premier League return

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Firmino, Salah ruin Ranieri’s Premier League return

… shatter Ranieri’s 70th birthday plans on Thursday

Roberto Firmino scored a hat-trick as rampant Liverpool condemned Claudio Ranieri to a miserable start to life as Watford manager in a one-sided game at Vicarage Road.

The home side had no answer to Liverpool’s fluid attacking play as they recorded their biggest win since the 7-0 hammering of Crystal Palace last December, which was also the last time Firmino, Salah and Mane all scored in a top-flight game.

Sadio Mane became the third African player to score 100 Premier League goals before Roberto Firmino struck either side of the break and Mohamed Salah finished a brilliant individual goal with a smart shot beyond Ben Foster.

Salah’s goal takes him level with former Chelsea striker Didier Drogba as the highest-scoring African player in Premier League history with 104 goals.

Firmino completed the scoring in the final minute for his first hat-trick since December 2018.

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The result means Liverpool have scored three goals or more in all six away games in all competitions so far this season, something no other English top-flight side has ever managed. It also extended their unbeaten start to the season and took them back to the top of the table, before Chelsea’s visit to Brentford (17:30 BST)

Watford did not manage a corner until the 78th minute. That it was greeted with huge cheers and a standing ovation just about summed up Ranieri’s day.

Watford is Ranieri’s 22nd different job in his long and varied coaching career. Rarely can he have endured a start as sobering as this.

It was Watford’s heaviest Premier League defeat since their eight-goal hammering by Manchester City in September 2019 and their biggest at home since the same opponents scored six here two years before that.

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