Manchester City defeated relegation rival Watford 5-1 at the Etihad Stadium to maintain their lead in the Premier League standings, four points ahead of Liverpool, who will face Everton in the Merseyside derby on Sunday. Pep Guardiola has won all of Man City’s games against Watford as manager.
Within four minutes, Manchester City had opened the scoring when Zinchenko blasted the ball into the area for Gabriel Jesus to slam into the goal. Watford stayed back, attempting to absorb City’s pressure, before attacking on the counter, hoping to expose the hosts’ high line. In the first half, the hosts tried to increase their advantage by throwing crosses in from all angles.
In the 23rd minute, Gabriel Jesus headed in a cross from Manchester City midfielder Kevin De Bruyne. The Belgian’s cross was a piece of art, well-measured and with the exact weight on the pass for the Brazilian to finish.
Manchester City seized a 3-1 lead in the 34th minute when Rodri unleashed a rocket into the top corner after controlling Jesus’ feed on the chest and taking the shot. With his fourth goal of the season for City, the Spaniard gave the hosts some breathing room.
Watford equalized five minutes later with to build-up play by Joshua King and Emmanuel Dennis, who assisted Hassane Kamara on his first goal for the club. He got behind Man City’s defense and smashed the ball into the bottom corner.
The second half began with City gaining a penalty 14 seconds after the restart when Watford goalkeeper Ben Foster was fouled by Gabriel Jesus, who slotted the penalty into the bottom corner to complete his hat-trick. This was the Brazilian’s fourth hat-trick of his career and his first since 2019. After a one-touch rapid passing play that opened up Watford’s defense, Kevin De Bruyne set up Gabriel Jesus once again in the 53rd minute.
This season, Pep Guardiola has a fantastic home record in the Premier League, amassing 41 points from 17 games at the Etihad. Watford has been in excellent form away from home, scoring 15 of their 22 points this season. However, they were unable to duplicate this form against league leaders Manchester City. The Hornets, who have now gone winless in their last 15 meetings with Manchester City, are 19th in the table with 22 points, seven points behind 17th-placed Everton.
Manchester City will play Leeds United at Elland Road before traveling to Santiago Bernabeu to face Real Madrid in the opening leg of the UEFA Champions League semi-final.
In the relegation fight, Roy Hodgson’s team will meet Burnley at the end of April before facing Crystal Palace and Everton the following month. Watford’s next two games are against Leicester City and Chelsea, which makes their prospects of survival seem bleak.