EPL: Watford 1-2 Manchester City - Match Report
A brace of goals from Sergio Aguero and Yaya Toure in the final 10 minutes gave Manchester City a much-needed victory over Watford. The win came a big relief to City as the Hornets threatened to ruin their new year after taking a second half lead. However, City rallied to win, and are now in 3rd, 3 points behind leaders Arsenal.
Machester City made no changes to their lineup, with Manuel Pellegrini opting to start with the same lineup that drew 0-0 against Leicester City. Vincent Kompany’s continued absence meant Eliaquim Mangala and Nicolas Otamendi continued at the heart of the City defence, while a fit again Sergio Aguero started for the second game in a row.
Quique Sanchez-Flores made two changes to a high-flying Watford side that was defeated by Tottenham in their last game, with Nathan Ake serving the first of his three game ban requiring Jose Holebas to play in his stead. Allon Nyom returned to the side in place of Ikechi Anya in the other fullback role.
First Half :
Watford started the game brightly, as Troy Deeney displayed great strength in setting up Amen Abdi, as the Swiss winger unleashed a powerful shot that flew narrowly over the bar. The Hornets buzzed with aggression in the opening 15 minutes, as Odion Ighalo turned away from Otamendi brilliantly and went clear, but Joe Hart saved well from the Nigerian’s shot, allowing Bakary Sagna to scramble the ball clear.
City responded to Watford’s opening salvo, often getting into threatening positions without making any clear cut chances, as the half progressed. Helheuro Gomes saved well from a powerful shot by Kevin de Bruyne in the 19th minute, while a 28th minute flurry of passes saw Silva get in front of the Watford goal and require Gomes to be at his best, saving from a tight angle.
Allan Nyom took a laughable tumble in the box as the half ended, as both sides went into the break legitimately disappointed not to have scored.
Second Half :
Watford started the second half just as they did the first, with Ben Watson’s stinging shot in the 46th minute setting Manchester City hearts aflutter. It was the Hornet’s turn to be nervous in the 53rd minute as Fernandinho nearly put the Sky Blues ahead, heading over from a corner after he had run free of his marker.
Vicarage Road erupted in the 55th minute as Watford went ahead, soon after City’s chance. Ben Watson’s wickedly inswinging corner from the right took a nick of Kolarov’s head, thus wrong-footing Joe Hart and creeping into the far corner. Watson celebrated another near post header against Manchester City, bringing memories of his FA Cup final winner for Wigan Athletic in 2013, only this time he was the supplier.
Pellegrini responded to the deficit by bringing on Jesus Navas in place of Raheem Sterling, and it appeared to work, allowing De Bruyne to dovetail with him and David Silva and sting Gomes’ palms a couple of times. Capoue responded for Watford, his driving run ending with a nutmeg on Otamendi but shooting over.
Watford would come to regret that miss terribly, as Yaya Toure equalised for City in the 82nd minute. The Ivorian underlined his credentials, volleying home an exquisite first time strike from a corner into the top corner with his left foot.
A pivotal goal in the title race soon followed, as Sagna and Silva combined well to counter down the right wing. Sagna sent in a peach of a cross, and Sergio Aguero responded in kind, majestically hanging in the air and guiding a looping header past Gomes into the bottom corner, giving Manchester City a much needed victory.
Watford bravely fought to try to score an unlikely equaliser, but City saw them off to close the gap to leaders Arsenal as the final whistle blew.