Manchester City opened up a 15-point gap at the top of the table after running out comfortable 3-1 victors over Watford at the Etihad Stadium on Tuesday.
Manchester City 3 Watford 1
- Sterling scores fastest goal of season
- Kabasele puts past his own keeper
- Aguero extends City’s advantage
- Gray nets late consolation goal
Pep Guardiola’s side were leading as early as the first minute through Raheem Sterling before a 13th-minute own-goal from Christian Kabasele put them firmly in command.
Sergio Aguero added a third for City in the second half, although there would be no clean sheet for Ederson after Andre Gray bagged a late consolation goal for the Hornets.
The hosts got off to a dream start when they opened the scoring after just 38 seconds to dash the Hornets’ game-plan.
David Silva slipped in Leroy Sane on the left and his low cross was tapped into an open net by an unmarked Sterling at the back post.
John Stones should have doubled City’s lead on five minutes following good work from Sane on the left to pick him out, but the defender lifted his shot over the crossbar from seven yards out.
Gray almost hit back for the visitors three minutes later as he latched onto a free-kick over the top of the defence on the left, but he failed to beat an on-rushing Ederson inside the box.
But the Citizens found space behind the defence on 13 minutes to go 2-0 up, with Silva playing in De Bruyne on the right and his low cross was deflected in by a sliding Kabasele.
De Bruyne was a whisker away from extending their advantage five minutes later as he struck the crossbar from a free-kick 19 yards out on the left, while Gray was presented with another opportunity on 29 minutes after being sent through on goal by Etienne Capoue, but Ederson parried his angled strike past the left post.
The conductor… ? pic.twitter.com/EXLx7z7Wwm
— Manchester City (@ManCity) January 2, 2018
Silva threatened again for the runaway leaders on 37 minutes when he lashed a shot over the bar from 16 yards out on the left after being picked out by Sane, and Heurelho Gomes made a brave save at the feet of Aguero from De Bruyne’s low cross from the right two minutes later.
Sterling went for the spectacular three minutes before half-time as he connected with Fernandinho’s superb diagonal pass into the box on the right, but he volleyed wide of the near post, while Capoue drew a routine save out of Ederson moments later with a shot from yards out on the left after being let in by a mistake from the home defence.
Aguero fired straight at Gomes from just inside the area in first-half added time after being spotted in space by De Bruyne on the right, and the Argentine ace passed up a glorious chance to get his name on the scoresheet three minutes after the restart when he directed a header well off target from De Bruyne’s cross on the right.
The result was the same on the hour mark as Nicolas Otamendi connected with the Belgian’s delivery on the right following a quickly-taken corner, but Aguero finally got his goal three minutes later as he poked home from close range after Gomes spilled De Bruyne’s cross.
De Bruyne went close again 12 minutes from time as he swapped passes with Sane on the left before seeing his low strike deflected inches wide of the near post.
The Hornets enjoyed a good spell of pressure in the closing stages and they got a scant reward in the 82nd minute when Andre Carrillo beat Kyle Walker on the left and sent in a low cross for Gray to tap home from inside the six-yard box.
Sterling forced Gomes into a save in the final minute from a tight angle on the right after being played in by Bernardo Silva, while City were lucky to survive a penalty appeal at the death when Otamendi caught Roberto Pereyra on the right byline.