Watford's 1-0 loss to Liverpool on Monday was a match largely devoid of quality and was ultimately decided by a single piece of brilliance from Liverpool's Emre Can.
Watford will perhaps regard themselves as unlucky not to have snatched a point after Sebastian Prodl hit the bar late on, but in truth the home side offered little throughout.
Watford were never out of the game and it took an extraordinary goal to defeat them. The Hornets' defence looked solid throughout, even when Miguel Britos was forced off through injury early in the first half. Walter Mazzarri's men stayed disciplined throughout and could have secured a point but for a great save from Simon Mignolet and a late miss from Prodl.
Despite the narrow margin of defeat, this was an uninspiring display from the home side, who seemed content to contain Liverpool for the most part. The front pairing of Troy Deeney and M'baye Niang appeared disjointed, while Etienne Capoue was all too often bypassed in the midfield by hopeful long balls. Despite the wonderful finish, questions should be asked about why Lucas Leiva was afforded so much time to pick out Can for the goal.
Manager rating out of 10
5 -- Mazzarri faced criticism for not making attacking changes early enough. The live-wire Isaac Success and hulking figure of Stefano Okaka were late introductions, with Watford's most cohesive attacking play coinciding with their arrival on the pitch.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Heurelho Gomes, 7 -- He made a number of crucial saves and was never found wanting. Gomes got to his feet quickly after being saved by the crossbar and made two smart saves from awkward efforts early in the second half. This was another commendable performance from the Brazilian.
DF Daryl Janmaat, 6 -- This game showcased the best and worst of Janmaat; a poorly judged shot from distance almost led to a Liverpool goal on the breakaway, while a whipped effort almost deceived Mignolet at his near post.
DF Sebastian Prodl, 7 -- He should have levelled for Watford late into injury time. Prodl did well to get his shot away after receiving the ball in a difficult position, but he will be wondering how he found the crossbar instead of the back of the net.
DF Miguel Britos, 6 -- He headed away a dangerous cross early, but his night was brought to a premature end by injury. Britos was replaced after just 19 minutes.
DF Adrian Mariappa, 7 -- He was left for dead by Roberto Firmino early on, but this was another good display from the former Jamaican international. There were a few misplaced passes, but his commitment and vocal contribution made Mariappa one of the more impressive home players on display.
MF Abdoulaye Doucoure, 7 -- He continues to go from strength to strength. It looks increasingly likely that Watford's midfield will be built around him next season, and this was another solid showing on an otherwise unspectacular night for his team.
MF Etienne Capoue, 5 -- His blocked shot was the culmination of one of Watford's best moves of the season in the first half, while Mignolet produced a world-class save to deny him from range in the second. Capoue was booked for dissent after the official wrongly awarded a goal kick.
MF Tom Cleverley, 6 -- He never hides and is always fully committed, but Cleverley was unable to make his mark on this one.
MF Nordin Amrabat, 5 -- This was another difficult night for Amrabat, who toiled away without much success. He struggled to put in a telling final ball once again and very rarely had any joy down the right flank. Ineffective.
MF M'baye Niang, 5 -- Niang started brightly and had the first shot of the game. Sadly for Watford, it was on his weaker foot and it didn't trouble Mignolet in the Liverpool goal. Niang looked indecisive when well positioned and will need to improve to persuade Watford to make his loan deal permanent.
FW Troy Deeney, 5 -- This was not a night to remember for the Watford captain, who was expertly handled by the Liverpool defence all night. He worked hard but wasn't able to carve out any chances for himself or his teammates.
DF Christian Kabasele, 7 -- Kabasele had a shaky start after coming on for the injured Britos, but he soon grew into the game and looked more assured than in recent outings. He helped ensure Watford's defence looked reasonably sound throughout.
MF Isaac Success, NR -- He came on with a little over 15 minutes remaining and gave Watford some much-needed forward momentum.
FW Stefano Okaka, NR -- Okaka caused difficulties for Liverpool during his nine-minute cameo. An earlier introduction could have made for an intriguing finale.