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LIVERPOOL, England – Liverpool charged to the top of the Premier League table for the first time since May 2014 by beating Watford 6-1 on Sunday.
Sadio Mane, Philippe Coutinho and Emre Can all scored in the space of 16 first-half minutes at Anfield. Roberto Firmino, Mane and Georginio Wijnaldum added further goals in the second half.
Although Daryl Janmaat's consolation denied Liverpool a clean sheet, the club is on the right path to challenge for its first title since 1990, having been pipped at the post in 2014.
Liverpool, which has now scored four or more goals in five league matches this season, is a point ahead of Manchester City and Arsenal.
News of Arsenal's lunchtime draw with Tottenham brought cheers from the Anfield crowd before kickoff as they knew a home victory would guarantee top spot.
Some early misplaced passes may have been due to to nerves given what was at stake but the hosts took the lead in the 27th minute and never looked back.
Coutinho whipped in a cross that Mane reached ahead of Daryl Janmaat to steer a flicked header beyond Heurelho Gomes.
Coutinho was on target himself on the half-hour. Liverpool went from right to left and when Firmino fed Coutinho, who side-stepped Janmaat and drilled an attempt between Younes Kaboul's legs and past Gomes.
The Watford keeper injured himself trying to make the save so Costel Pantilimon came on to try and stop the rout that was unfolding. Pantilimon could only watch as Adam Lallana's 43rd-minute cross was nodded in by Can, one of four Liverpool players in the box awaiting the delivery.
The second half followed a similar pattern as Liverpool increased its lead and the fourth goal again stemmed from a set piece.
Coutinho's free kick came to Jordan Henderson out on the left and he played in Lallana to cross for Firmino, who was left with the simple task of applying the finish in front of goal.
Some brilliant work from Firmino led to the fifth. He chased down Henderson's pass into the box and beat Jose Holebas to the ball, then held it up long enough to spot Mane's run. The Senegalese was the grateful recipient of Firmino's assist.
Wijnaldum completed the rout in stoppage time after fellow substitute Daniel Sturridge, who was twice denied by the crossbar, had an effort saved.