London (AFP) – Raheem Sterling scored the fastest goal of the Premier League season as leaders Manchester City got back on track with a 3-1 win against Watford on Tuesday, while Fernando Llorente put Tottenham on course for a 2-0 victory at his former club Swansea.
Sterling struck after just 38 seconds before Christian Kabasele’s first-half own goal put Pep Guardiola’s side in control at Eastlands.
Sergio Aguero made it three as City gave the perfect response after their 18-game winning run was ended in a goalless draw at Crystal Palace on Sunday.
Unbeaten City are 15 points clear of second-placed Manchester United as they continue to turn the title race into a lengthy coronation party.
Guardiola had complained that the hectic festive fixture schedule was a “disaster” after City striker Gabriel Jesus suffered a knee ligament injury at Palace.
But Guardiola was able to replace the Brazilian with Sergio Aguero, while David Silva returned from a two-game absence.
City, playing their fourth match in 11 days, were ahead inside a minute as Sterling met Leroy Sane’s cross with a near-post finish for his 18th goal this season.
Having won 6-0 at Watford in September, City looked on course for another rout in the 13th minute when Watford’s Kabasele sliced an attempted clearance into his own net from Kevin De Bruyne’s cross.
Yet they had to wait 50 minutes to score again as Argentine forward Aguero netted from close-range for his 16th goal of the season.
Andre Gray’s 82nd minute goal for Watford came way too late to avoid a sixth defeat in their last seven league matches.
“We played really well. After dropping two points, we spoke about our reaction because big teams drop points but not too much,” Guardiola said.
With Harry Kane only fit enough for a place on the bench after illness, former Swansea striker Llorente made his first league start for Tottenham at the rain-lashed Liberty Stadium.
Llorente marked the occasion with a 12th minute goal, the Spaniard powering home a header from Christian Eriksen’s free-kick despite Swansea’s appeals for offside.
Puddles all over the pitch made it hard for Tottenham to establish their smooth-passing game and Kane, who finished 2017 with consecutive hat-tricks, was sent on for Llorente after 68 minutes.
– Dramatic winner –
Kane made his presence felt with a perfect pass to Dele Alli and the Tottenham midfielder finished at the second attempt to wrap up the points in the 89th minute.