Watford (United Kingdom) (AFP) – A Sergio Aguero hat-trick helped Manchester City to record their highest victory under Pep Guardiola as they crushed Watford 6-0 at Vicarage Road on Saturday.
Aguero was in sublime form to help City move to the top of the Premier League and avoid a hangover from European success at Feyenoord in midweek.
City were anxious to end their relatively poor record in Premier League games which followed Champions League fixtures last season.
Of their last six such games dating back to last September, Pep Guardiola’s side managed to win just one.
The manner in which they swept Watford away suggests the subject will not be raised very often this season.
The opening minutes were notable for the driving runs of Kyle Walker who charged forward at every opportunity.
The City right-back then ceded centre stage to Kevin de Bruyne, whose range of passing was simply mesmerising.
De Bruyne’s first contribution was to glide to the by-line before picking out the run of Benjamin Mendy, only for the City left-back to skew his shot wide.
Combining effortlessly with David Silva, de Bruyne continued to direct City’s forward play, curling a shot wide himself after a one-two with Silva before sending over a cross which Daryl Janmaat did well to clear under pressure from Nicolas Otamendi.
If a City goal was inevitable, it came just after Watford’s only meaningful effort on goal in the opening 45 minutes when Richarlison should have done much better than to guide Jose Holebas’s cross wide of the post from a free header.
That profligacy was duly punished after 27 minutes when Aguero showed him how it should be done, glancing home de Bruyne’s pinpoint free-kick.
The 10 minutes which followed emphasised the chasm in class between the two sides.
Aguero made it 2-0 when he tapped home after Gabriel Jesus and David Silva had combined to carve open the home defence once more.
– Dominance –
Having scored two goals himself, Aguero played the provider role for City’s third.
He waited for Jesus to sprint clear of his marker in the area before slipping a perfectly weighted pass into his path, with a swivelled finish from Jesus doing the rest.
Watford simply had no answer, except to hack down their opponents in a desperate attempt to slow their progress towards the home goal.
Holebas and Abdoulaye Doucoure were both booked for bringing down de Bruyne and Raheem Sterling, respectively.
Half-time came as a relief to Marco Silva’s side and allowed him to reorganise his team. It also halted the City momentum.
Both factors were in evidence as Watford enjoyed their best period of the match in the opening 15 minutes of the second half.
Indeed, Andre Carrillo might have reduced their deficit in the 48th minute but his volley of a dropping ball in the area following a corner flew just wide of the post.
Having absorbed that brief period of pressure, City re-asserted themselves just after the hour.
First, Silva sent in a stinging shot which Gomes could only help over the bar.
When the corner that followed was initially cleared, it was Silva again who found himself with the space to send over a cross which Otamendi headed powerfully home.
City’s dominance was underscored by two further goals in the final nine minutes.
First, Aguero sealed his hat-trick when he danced his way past three defenders before clipping the ball neatly past Gomes and in off the far post.
The Argentine then generously handed over penalty duties to Sterling after the England international was tripped by Adrian Mariappa.
Sterling lifted the ball high into the to complete the rout.
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