Defending champions Manchester City climbed to the top of the Premier League for the first time this season with a dominant win over struggling Watford.
Raheem Sterling took the lead at City after just four minutes, when he was free behind the post to catch Phil Foden’s superb cross from the left.
The home side were constantly tearing the net against Man City’s movement, passing and creativity and only a handful of saves from goalkeeper Daniel Bachmann kept the score down to a goal in the first 30 minutes.
But City had a well-deserved second goal when Bachmann denied Ilkay Gundogan, but the counter-attack went to Bernardo Silva, who showed outstanding skill in beating two defenders and shooting from a tight angle.
Silva then got City’s second and third goals, coming in from the right side of the box and hitting a fine finish past Bachmann.
Cucho Hernandez pulled one back for Watford, then converted a rebound after his first shot hit the post.
After 15 matches, Man City – the team that won the title 5 of the last 10 seasons – is one point ahead of Liverpool.
Chelsea have started the day as the leader, but are now one point behind the Reds in third place, behind lost to fourth place West Ham 3-2.
Six points from eight games under Ranieri
For Watford, it was a sixth defeat in eight games under Claudio Ranieri, albeit from an extremely difficult streak, including encounters with five of the current top seven.
They performed brilliantly to win 5-2 against Everton and 4-1 against Manchester United in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s final game in charge of the Reds, but have only picked up six points since Ranieri replaced Xisco Munoz was fired in October.
Ranieri received a hero’s reception at Leicester last Sunday for his return to King Power Stadium, where he led the Foxes to the 2015-16 Premier League title.
But, just like in that match where they lost 4-2, The Hornets’ defensive problems were exposed and only Bachmann’s brilliant goalkeeper helped City score a goal in the first half.
Scorer Sterling also had another attempt saved, Jack Grealish – back in the starting lineup for the first time in a month after injury – was denied three times and Joao Cancelo opened fire widely as Watford went out.
After Silva doubled the lead in the 31st minute, the question was how many goals Man City would score.
Sterling is currently scoring 99 Premier League goals and has a chance to touch his century, but was caught by Bachmann, who also got his hands on a Foden shot into the post.
The opportunity continued to come to Man City when Gundogan scored, before Silva’s second goal – and seventh of the season – came in the 63rd minute.
Grealish also had a shot on the crossbar, Bachmann saved Aymeric Laporte, before substitute Hernandez received Watford’s consolation in the 74th minute.
The making progress 4-1-4-1
- 15CathcartSet at 85 minutes
- 3roseBooked 31 minutes in advanceReplaced forNgakiain 71′minute
- 6LouzaReplaced forHernandezin 45′minute
- 8CleverleyReplaced forKuckain 45′minute
- tenJoao Pedro
- 7KingBooked 7 minutes in advance
The making progress 4-3-3
- thirty firstEderson
- 3Ruben Dias
- 8GundoganReplaced forDe Bruynein sixty seven ‘minute
- 20Bernardo Silva
- tenGreyReplaced forMahrezin 68′minute
- 47FodenReplaced forGabriel Jesusin 75′minute
- 9Gabriel Jesus
- 17De Bruyne
- Simon Hooper
Match ends, Watford 1, Manchester City 3.
Second half ended, Watford 1, Manchester City 3.
DO NOT ENTER!!!! Jeremy Ngakia (Watford) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the right of the goal. Cucho Hernández provided the assist after a corner.
Corner, Watford. Conceded by Ruben Dias.
Corner, Watford. Due to Kevin De Bruyne conceding a goal.
Attempted to save. João Cancelo (Manchester City) right footed shot from outside the box to the center of the goal. Kevin De Bruyne assists.
Bernardo Silva (Manchester City) fouled.
Cucho Hernández (Watford) concedes a free kick from the right by-line.
DO NOT ENTER!!!! Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City) right footed shot from outside the box is too high. Powered by Riyad Mahrez.
Craig Cathcart (Watford) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Gabriel Jesus (Manchester City) is awarded a free kick in the home half.
Craig Cathcart (Watford) fouled.
Attempted to be blocked. Bernardo Silva (Manchester City) right footed shot from the center of the box is blocked. Assisted by Gabriel Jesus.
Corner, Manchester City. Delivered by William Troost-Ekong.
Attempted to be blocked. Raheem Sterling (Manchester City) right footed shot from the left side of the box is blocked. Bernardo Silva’s assist.
Fouled by Raheem Sterling (Manchester City).
Kiko Femenía (Watford) is awarded a free kick in the home half.
DO NOT ENTER!!!! Raheem Sterling (Manchester City) right footed shot from outside the box is too high. Bernardo Silva assist.
DO NOT ENTER!!!! Joshua King (Watford) right footed shot from the center of the box misses to the right. Cucho Hernández assists with the cross.
Raheem Sterling (Manchester City) is awarded a free kick in the home half.
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