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Leaders Man City 15 points clear following victory over Watford

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Sergio Aguero

Runaway leaders Manchester City showed no ill-effects from the end of their 18-game Premier League winning run by comfortably beating Watford.

Playing two days after the 0-0 draw at Crystal Palace, City took just just 38 seconds to open the scoring as Raheem Sterling slotted home Leroy Sane’s cross for the quickest goal in the Premier League this season.

City, who are 15 points above second-placed Manchester United, doubled their lead when Kevin de Bruyne’s cross was turned into his own net by a sliding Christian Kabasele.

De Bruyne, who started the match after recovering quickly from a nasty looking injury against Palace, then had a free-kick tipped on to the bar by Heurelho Gomes.

City got the third goal their dominance merited when Sergio Aguero scored from close range after the Watford goalkeeper parried De Bruyne’s cross.

Andre Gray netted a late consolation for Watford, tapping home Andre Carrillo’s low cross.

The visitors, who remain 10th by virtue of their early season form, have lost 10 of their past 14 games.

City look strong with returning players

City boss Pep Guardiola said after the game that the busy festive period is “going to kill the players” after City’s 10th game in a month.

The leaders were without striker Gabriel Jesus, who will be out for one to two months after injuring a knee on New Year’s Eve against Palace, but that just meant a start for all-time top scorer Aguero.

De Bruyne recovered immediately from his Palace knock to start, while defender John Stones returned from the hamstring injury which had sidelined him for over a month and playmaker David Silva was back after two games out for personal reasons.

However, Guardiola said after the game Silva might need more time off.

City – wanting to make things right after dropping points for only the second time this season – started quickly and led 2-0 after 13 minutes. They could almost relax at that stage against a team totally out of form.

Sterling’s opener was City’s third quickest in the Premier League era.

Aguero – who has now scored 10 goals in six games against Watford – would have scored earlier had Kabasele not turned De Bruyne’s cross into his own net before it reached the Argentine.

He missed a hat-trick of chances from De Bruyne crosses, denied twice by Gomes and heading well wide in the second half, before scoring after the goalkeeper’s fumble.

Stones also fired a glorious chance well over from six yards and headed straight at Gomes from the rebound after De Bruyne’s free-kick was saved onto the bar.

Watford’s late goal denied them a perfect day, with a run of three consecutive clean sheets coming to an end.

But they are now 16 games away from an unbeaten Premier League season, despite Guardiola’s insistence it will not happen.

Right-back Kyle Walker walked off holding his groin at the final whistle, and Guardiola said the club would have to “check it out”.

Watford struggles continue

The Hornets’ decline coincided with Everton sacking Ronald Koeman. The Toffees wanted Marco Silva to succeed the Dutchman, but Watford refused to let him go.

And since Koeman’s departure, the Hornets have only taken 10 points from 13 games.

A visit to Manchester City was probably not one they would have expected to get something from, but they were basically out of the game within 38 seconds.

Watford had only touched the ball once – when Richarlison was tackled by Silva – by the time Sterling tapped home.

They were well beaten by the time Gray, who earlier forced a save from Ederson, was able to turn home Carrillo’s cross.

They did rally after the goal, but even the most optimistic Watford fans would have known it was a consolation and not the start of a comeback.

Silva’s unwanted record – match stats

  • City have won their past eight matches against Watford in all competitions, doing so by an aggregate score of 27-4.
  • Since he took charge of his first away Premier League match on 22 January, Silva has lost more such games than any other manager (13).
  • Sterling’s goal was City’s third-fastest goal in Premier League history, behind Jesus Navas against Spurs in November 2013 (13 seconds) and Geovanni against Wigan in December 2007 (29 seconds).
  • Under Guardiola, only Aguero (49) has scored more City goals in all competitions than Sterling (28).
  • Aguero has only scored more goals against Newcastle (11) in all competitions for City than he has against Watford (10).
  • Gray’s first five Premier League goals were scored in home games – his seven goals since then have all been scored away from home.

Man of the match – Kevin de Bruyne (Manchester City)

Kevin de Bruyne

What’s next?

Neither side are in Premier League action for a week and a half.

Manchester City host Burnley on Saturday (15:00 GMT) in the FA Cup third round and are then at home to Bristol City in the Carabao Cup next Tuesday (19:45 GMT).

Watford face Bristol City next – in the FA Cup on Saturday.

Line-ups

Man City

  • 31Ederson
  • 2Walker
  • 5StonesSubstituted forDaniloat 67′minutes
  • 30Otamendi
  • 18Delph
  • 17De BruyneSubstituted forBernardo Silvaat 79′minutes
  • 25FernandinhoSubstituted forY Touréat 71′minutes
  • 21SilvaBooked at 24mins
  • 7Sterling
  • 10Agüero
  • 19Sané

Substitutes

  • 1Bravo
  • 3Danilo
  • 8Gündogan
  • 15Mangala
  • 20Bernardo Silva
  • 35Zinchenko
  • 42Y Touré

Watford

  • 1Gomes
  • 2Janmaat
  • 13Wagué
  • 27Kabasele
  • 22Zeegelaar
  • 23WatsonSubstituted forPereyraat 61′minutesBooked at 83mins
  • 16Doucouré
  • 11RicharlisonSubstituted forSinclairat 82′minutes
  • 29CapoueSubstituted forCleverleyat 61′minutes
  • 28Carrillo
  • 18Gray

Substitutes

  • 5Prödl
  • 6Mariappa
  • 8Cleverley
  • 17Sinclair
  • 25Holebas
  • 30Karnezis
  • 37Pereyra
Referee:
Lee Mason
Attendance:
53,556

Match Stats

Home TeamMan CityAway TeamWatford
Possession
Home77%
Away23%
Shots
Home17
Away7
Shots on Target
Home7
Away4
Corners
Home9
Away1
Fouls
Home8
Away12

Live Text

Match ends, Manchester City 3, Watford 1.

Full Time

Second Half ends, Manchester City 3, Watford 1.

Offside, Watford. Christian Kabasele tries a through ball, but André Carrillo is caught offside.

Offside, Manchester City. Ederson tries a through ball, but Sergio Agüero is caught offside.

Attempt missed. Abdoulaye Doucouré (Watford) right footed shot from long range on the right misses to the right.

Attempt saved. Raheem Sterling (Manchester City) right footed shot from the right side of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Bernardo Silva.

Attempt blocked. Abdoulaye Doucouré (Watford) left footed shot from the left side of the box is blocked.

Sergio Agüero (Manchester City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Marvin Zeegelaar (Watford).

Booking

Roberto Pereyra (Watford) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

David Silva (Manchester City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Roberto Pereyra (Watford).

Substitution

Substitution, Watford. Jerome Sinclair replaces Richarlison.

Goal!

Goal! Manchester City 3, Watford 1. Andre Gray (Watford) right footed shot from very close range to the centre of the goal. Assisted by André Carrillo.

Substitution

Substitution, Manchester City. Bernardo Silva replaces Kevin De Bruyne.

Corner, Manchester City. Conceded by Abdoulaye Doucouré.

Attempt blocked. Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Leroy Sané.

Offside, Watford. Heurelho Gomes tries a through ball, but Andre Gray is caught offside.

Foul by Leroy Sané (Manchester City).

Heurelho Gomes (Watford) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Leroy Sané (Manchester City) wins a free kick on the left wing.

Foul by Abdoulaye Doucouré (Watford).

Substitution

Substitution, Manchester City. Yaya Touré replaces Fernandinho.

Corner, Manchester City. Conceded by Tom Cleverley.

Attempt blocked. Leroy Sané (Manchester City) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Kevin De Bruyne.

Substitution

Substitution, Manchester City. Danilo replaces John Stones.

Attempt missed. Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City) right footed shot from outside the box is too high. Assisted by Raheem Sterling.

Foul by Fernandinho (Manchester City).

André Carrillo (Watford) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Goal!

Goal! Manchester City 3, Watford 0. Sergio Agüero (Manchester City) right footed shot from very close range to the bottom left corner following a corner.

Corner, Manchester City. Conceded by Christian Kabasele.

Substitution

Substitution, Watford. Roberto Pereyra replaces Ben Watson.

Substitution

Substitution, Watford. Tom Cleverley replaces Etienne Capoue.

Corner, Manchester City. Conceded by Christian Kabasele.

Corner, Manchester City. Conceded by Marvin Zeegelaar.

Corner, Manchester City. Conceded by Daryl Janmaat.

Foul by Fernandinho (Manchester City).

Richarlison (Watford) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Fernandinho (Manchester City) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by Richarlison (Watford).

goal

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