Soccer-King reigns supreme as Ranieri's Watford beat Everton 5-2


Soccer - England - Premier League - Everton v Watford - Goodison Park, Liverpool, Britain - October 23, 2021 Watford manager Claudio Ranieri celebrates with Joshua King after the match Action Images via Reuters/Molly Darlington

LIVERPOOL, England (Reuters) -Watford striker Joshua King grabbed a hat-trick on his return to former club Everton in a stunning 5-2 Premier League victory as the visitors claimed their first win under new manager Claudio Ranieri on Saturday.

Watford's maiden win at Goodison Park, which moved them up to 14th on 10 points, was in stark contrast to Ranieri's first game in charge when they were spanked 5-0 at home to Liverpool last week. Everton dropped to eighth on 14 points.

King, who spent the second half of last season at Everton and left the club when his contract was not renewed, was in fine form and the Norwegian had no qualms about celebrating his goals and going into the book for taking his shirt off.

"For a striker it's confidence. I had a horrible season last season. Any striker, when you start scoring, gets confidence," said King, who opened his account for the season.

"We needed the win today. This is a great group with togetherness... The manager has just come in, his second game in and that was a good performance by the team."

Everton were quick out off the blocks, scoring inside three minutes when Demarai Gray sprinted down the left, danced past a challenge and crossed the ball into the six-yard box where Tom Davies stuck his foot out for his first goal of the season.

The lead lasted only 10 minutes, however, when King stole in at the back post on a set-piece to fire the ball into the roof of the net after Everton failed to clear the initial delivery, with the linesman's offside call being overruled by VAR.

Everton struggled to make inroads after the early goal and it took the introduction of Richarlison in the second half for them to go ahead as the Brazilian got on the end of Michael Keane's whipped cross to head home against his former club.

But Watford silenced the Goodison Park crowd with two goals in two minutes when Juraj Kucka first levelled from another set-piece with a header before King scored his second from a counter-attack after Everton committed too many players forward.

King completed his hat-trick when Everton's defence failed to clear a cross into the box, turning Keane before firing past Pickford, before Emmanuel Dennis got a fifth in stoppage time.

"Watford made it difficult for us but as a group we have to take accountability, it's not acceptable," Gray said.

"The manager (Rafa Benitez) has made it clear it's not good enough. We have to concentrate and do things properly. It hurts but we have to move forward."

(Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Toby Davis and Ken Ferris)

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