Friday, June 22, 2018

Manchester City 3-1 Watford: Early Sterling goal sets tone for comfortable victory

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Raheem Sterling scored after only 38 seconds on Tuesday evening as Manchester City swept aside Watford 3-1 at the Etihad Stadium.

The England winger tapped home following fantastic work from Leroy Sané as the hosts got off to the best possible start. Christian Kabasele inadvertently doubled the Citizens’ lead as he turned Kevin De Bruyne’s cross into his own net in the 13th minute. Sergio Agüero rounded off the scoring in the 63rd minute with a simple goal as Manchester City again swaggered to another victory despite Andre Gray pulling a late goal back for Marco Silva’s men.

Sterling strikes early

The hosts were in control of the game within 38 seconds as Raheem Sterling opened the scoring in lightning-quick fashion. Leroy Sané motored down the left-flank and crossed to the unmarked Englishman at the back post. Prodding into the empty net, he notched his 14th Premier League goal of the season.

John Stones, who returned to the City line-up, was then the next to profit from more good work from Sané but could only scoop the German’s cross high over the bar. Watford however did break City’s dominance, albeit briefly. Andre Gray wriggled away from Stones and attempted to chip over Ederson but the goalkeeper was wise to the striker’s clever effort.

Own goal propels league leaders even further forward

Only 12 minutes after the opener, Pep Guardiola’s men looked to have all-but secured another victory as Christian Kabasele put through his own net. Kevin De Bruyne was well found by David Silva on the right side of midfield and the Belgian produced a teasing low cross. The ball took a touch off of the Watford man and looped into the net to stretch the advantage.

The hosts continued to dominate and were awarded a free-kick for a foul on Silva. De Bruyne stepped up with only the crossbar sparing Watford before Stones collected the loose ball, unfortunately shooting straight at Heurelho Gomes. The Hornets however did continue to provide some threat and Ederson again got the better of Gray as the Brazilian pawed the Watford man’s shot away when one-on-one.

Manchester City looked to edge further ahead as the first half drew to a close but brave goalkeeping from Gomes denied Sterling from close range. The Brazilian also did well to stop Sergio Agüero’s effort as he attempted to turn home a De Bruyne cross.

Manchester City waltz away from Watford

The first talking point of the second-half came just before the hour. The hosts loudly appealed for a penalty as Agüero was tripped by Molla Wagué by replays showed the defender got a touch on the ball. Nicolás Otamendi then had the chance to make it 3-0 but could only put his effort wide from a corner.

Agüero though did notch the third goal only a few minutes later. From another corner, De Bruyne lifted the ball into the penalty area. Gomes spilled the cross straight into the path of Agüero who simply tapped into the unguarded net to make the score-line ever more emphatic. The Argentine might have even had a second as the Citizens broke on the counter-attack but he could only put a clever lob just wide.

Gray finally powers past Ederson

The score-line could well have been far greater as Guardiola’s troops continued their unrelenting pressure. Sterling’s cross just had too much pace for Sané who was sliding in at the back post. De Bruyne, who did everything but score on the night, unleashed a great shot from the edge of the area but Gomes did well to flick the ball around the post.

Watford did find a late route back into the game and Andre Gray this time made no mistake. Richarlison found André Carrillo in the box, with the Peruvian rolling the ball back to Gray. The ex-Burnley man did not hesitate in finishing from close range to finally find a way past the inspirational Ederson.

Sky Blues breathe a sigh of relief

The goal gave the Hornets considerably more impetus and Otamendi did well to stop Gray from getting a second with Ederson seemingly beaten. Abdoulaye Doucouré also had a powerful effort blocked by Danilo as the visitors continued to probe in the closing stages.

Sterling also created a late opportunity of his own as he manufactured space behind the Watford defence but could only put his shot straight at Gomes. The visitors had a late penalty call as Roberto Pereyra went down under a tough challenge from Otamendi. The referee however was unmoved.

Despite the late flurry, neither side were able to find another goal and Manchester City secured another well-deserved victory.

Final Thoughts

Manchester City just cannot stop scoring at home. After failing to overcome Crystal Palace last time out, the league leaders were much better against the Hornets. Their attacking flair was just too much for the visitors and the two early goals secured the victory for Manchester City. They are now 15 points clear at the top of the Premier League ahead of their next clash with Liverpool.

Meanwhile, Watford’s troubles continue and they have now won one game out of their last eight. The Hornets only gave the hosts problems was Gray had found the net and were soundly beaten. They remain in 10th going into next weekend’s fixture against Southampton.

Match Report

Manchester City: Ederson (7); Walker (7), Stones (7) (Danilo (6), 67′), Otamendi (7), Delph (6); D. Silva (7), Fernandinho (7) (Touré (6), 70′), De Bruyne (8) (B. Silva (N/A), 79′); Sané (8), Agüero (7), Sterling (7).

Watford: Gomes (6); Janmaat (6), Wagué (6), Kabasele (5), Zeegelaar (6); Capoue (5) (Cleverley (6), 61′), Watson (5) (Pereyra (5), 61′); Richarlison (6) (Sinclair (N/A), 82′), Doucouré (5), Carrillo (6); Gray (7).

Goals: Sterling (1′), Kabasele OG (13′), Agüero (63′), Gray (82′)

Referee: Lee Mason

Yellow Cards: D. Silva (23′)

Red Cards: N/A

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Daniel Orme


Daniel is currently a second-year football journalism student at the University of Derby. He has been freelance writing for approximately four years now and brings considerable experience. A season ticket holder at local club Leicester City, he witnessed the Foxes miraculously lifting the Premier League trophy in the 2015/16 campaign.

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