Manchester City 5, Watford 1
Gabriel Jesus scored four goals and set up another as Manchester City hammered Watford 5-1 at the Etihad Stadium.
It was the perfect warm up for the game against Real Madrid on Tuesday as the Blues went 4 points clear in the Premier League title race against Liverpool who play Everton tomorrow.
Jesus set City on their way with a 4th minute goal courtesy of a square pass from Oleksandr Zinchenko before doubling the lead with a header from Kevin De Bruyne’s right wing cross after 23 minutes.
Watford made a game of it with their direct balls up to their forwards and were rewarded with a goal when City failed to clear a ball into space vacated by Ruben Dias and the deflected ball fell nicely for Hassane Kamara.
Kamara scored his first goal for the Hornets, shooting under Ederson to make it 2-1, but City hit back quickly to restore their lead through as Jesus turned provider to set up Rodri to make it 3-1 after 34 minutes.
The Brazilian completed his hat trick seconds after half time – converting from the penalty spot after he was brought down by Ben Foster – before hitting his fourth goal after exchanging passes with Kevin de Bruyne.
Substitute Joao Pedro headed wide from an Emmanuel Dennis free kick as Watford looked for another consolation goal but the game was long since over for Roy Hodgson’s men.
With the game beyond the Hornets and Real Madrid visiting on Tuesday Pep Guardiola made changes – bringing off De Bruyne, Rodri, and Aymeric Laporte – as the Blues made the most of the their winning margin to rest players ahead of the crucial Champions League semi final tie.
PLAYER RATINGS – Manchester City 5, Watford 1
Ederson: 7. Off his line early to clean up as Watford went attacking early on and saved from Emmanuel Dennis in the second half.
Joao Cancelo: 7. Tested Ben Foster with an early shot. Gave the Watford defenders a good working over without shirking his defensive work too often.
Ruben Dias: 6. Good game to work his way back to fitness after an injury lay off but was drawn out of position in the build up to Hassane Kamara’s goal.
Aymeric Laporte: 6. Comfortable with the support being given from the shield in front of him, given a rest in the second half.
Oleksandr Zinchenko: 8. Picked out Gabriel Jesus for the opening goal and got back to steal the ball off Emmanuel Dennis when Watford broke with two men clean through early on, highly involved throughout.
Kevin De Bruyne: 9. Delivered a great ball for Gabriel Jesus’ second goal of the day. Knock on his ankle in the build up to Rodri’s goal but signalled he could continue. Taken off early in the second half when it became clear the points were in the bag.
Rodri: 8. All action display. Sat back deep at times to prevent the long ball to the Watford front men but went forward to devastating effect to score City’s third goal – a rocket from outside the area.
Fernandinho: 7. Reassuring presence in midfield with Rodri given a more dynamic role.
Gabriel Jesus: 10. Morale boosting early goals for the Brazilian who was confident to try some tricks on the day – won the ball back and his cut back set up Rodri for City’s third and should have set up a goal for Raheem Sterling.
Raheem Sterling: 7. Blazed over after Jesus set him up in the first half and got the ball caught under his feet with the goalmouth waiting as he was having one of those days in front of goal.
Jack Grealish: 7. Occupied wide defenders. Involved in the build up to Gabriel Jesus’ fourth goal and had a chance to make it 6-1 in the last 4 minutes.
Ilkay Gündoğan (on for Kevin de Bruyne, 57): 6. Forced a fine save from Ben Foster.
Nathan Ake (on for Aymeric Laporte, 63): 6. On cruise control at the back.
Riyad Mahrez (on for Rodri, 70): 6. Giving Rodri a well earned rest, blazed over a difficult late chance.
GOALS – Manchester City 5, Watford 1
Man City 1, Watford 0: 4. Gabriel Jesus had a routine tap in from 6 yards into the unguarded net after Oleksandr Zinchenko sent Joao Cancelo’s big switch from right to left back into the penalty area.
Man City 2, Watford 0: 23. Gabriel Jesus doubled City’s lead with a clean header from 6 yards out to convert Kevin De Bruyne’s raking cross from the right.
Man City 1, Watford 1: 28. Hassane Kamara reduced the deficit with a strike which went in under Ederson after Ruben Dias had been dragged out of position.
Man City 3, Watford 1: 34. Rodri blasted a 25 yard rising rocket in to restore City’s 2 goal cushion after Gabriel Jesus won the ball and cut it back for the midfielder to score.
Man City 4, Watford 1: 49. Gabriel Jesus fired home a spot kick to complete his first Premier League hat trick after being cleaned out by Ben Foster after robbing Hassane Kamara seconds in the second half following a lengthy VAR check.
Man City 5, Watford 1: 53. Gabriel Jesus made it 4 for the day from 10 yards out after exchanging passes with Kevin de Bruyne in a sweet build-up involving Fernandinho and Jack Grealish.
MATCH STATS – Manchester City 5, Watford 1
Man City: Ederson, Cancelo, Dias, Laporte (Ake 63), Zinchenko, De Bruyne (Gundogan 57), Rodri (Mahrez 70), Fernandinho, Jesus, Sterling, Grealish
Man City Subs not used: Steffen, Bernardo Silva, Foden, Egan-Riley, Mbete, Palmer
Booking: Cancelo 43 (foul on Tom Cleverley)
Goals: Jesus 4, 23, 49, 53; Rodri 34
Watford: Foster, Ngakia, Kabsele, Samir (Cathcart 68), Kamara, Sissoko, Louza (Kayembe 75), Cleverley, Sarr (Joao Pedro 68), King, Dennis
Watford Subs not used: Bachmann, Troost-Ekong, Masina, Sema, Nkoulou, Gosling
Goal: Kamara 28
Referee: Kevin Friend