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Watford 1-3 Manchester City: Premier League – as it happened

The Guardian
The Guardian
 2021-12-04

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7.52pm GMT

David Hytner was at Vicarage Road to see the champions get back to the top. His report has landed, and here it is. Get clicking, good people. Thanks for reading this MBM. Nighty night!

Related: Bernardo Silva double sinks Watford to send Manchester City top

7.37pm GMT

The sensational Bernardo Silva talks to Sky. “It was a very good job in the first half especially. We created chances and didn’t allow them to counter-attack. We scored two but should have scored more. At 3-0 we tried to control the game, but the last few minutes were not as good. We’re very happy, top of the league. It’s always better to be top than second or third or fourth, but it’s still the beginning, not even halfway through, and it’s so close. Lots of games to play, though it’s better to be in our position. It’s going to be tough for us and for Liverpool and Chelsea. It’s the most competitive league in the world, and we will do our best. At the end of the season we want to celebrate some titles.”

7.25pm GMT

Not a good day for Chelsea, then ...

Pos Team P GD Pts
1 Man City 15 23 35
2 Liverpool 15 32 34
3 Chelsea 15 26 33
4 West Ham 15 9 27
5 Arsenal 14 -3 23

... while Watford are suddenly in Newcastle’s sights.

Pos Team P GD Pts
16 Leeds 14 -7 15
17 Watford 15 -9 13
18 Burnley 14 -7 10
19 Newcastle 15 -13 10
20 Norwich 14 -20 10

7.23pm GMT

FULL TIME: Watford 1-3 Manchester City

The champions return to the top of the Premier League, having secured the three points at Vicarage Road pretty much from the get-go. Watford will be happy to have kept the score down, and to have improved significantly in the second half.

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The Manchester City players and fans react after the final whistle. Photograph: Tess Derry/PA

Updated at 7.59pm GMT

7.22pm GMT

90 min +4: One corner leads to another, then Ngakia steers a shot well wide right from the edge of the D.

7.22pm GMT

90 min +3: Hernandez has another dig from a tight angle on the right. De Bruyne deflects it out for a corner. Chance for another late consolation.

Updated at 7.32pm GMT

7.21pm GMT

90 min +2: On Sky, Alan Smith names Raheem Sterling as man of the match. He’s been magnificent ... though Bernardo Silva might have been even better.

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Watford’s Craig Cathcart attempts to deal with the danger posed by Raheem Sterling. Photograph: David Klein/Reuters

Updated at 7.41pm GMT

7.18pm GMT

90 min: There will be four extra minutes.

7.18pm GMT

89 min: A loose ball to the right of the Watford D. De Bruyne opens his body and sends a powerful rising sidefoot towards the top right. The ball sails an inch over the bar. That would have been a stunner.

7.17pm GMT

88 min: Jesus is fine. He trots back on and quickly gets back up to speed, bustling away to a chorus of boos. He then runs the ball out of play, much to the home support’s amusement.

7.16pm GMT

87 min: Jesus is back up but whether he can continue isn’t yet clear. He limps off the pitch slowly. City have made all of their subs.

7.15pm GMT

86 min: Jesus seems in a bit of pain. He’s grimacing quite a lot. The trainer is on, and Pep Guardiola is not happy, deep in discussion with the fourth official.

7.14pm GMT

85 min: Jesus spins Cathcart, who responds by taking one for the team. A cynical clip on the heel, and a yellow card.

7.12pm GMT

83 min: Ngakia has the chance to release Dennis down the left, but hangs onto the ball too long, and when he eventually makes the pass, the flag goes up for offside.

7.11pm GMT

82 min: The corner leads to a half-chance for Silva, the ball dropping to him in a crowded six-yard box. But he’s swarmed and the shot is blocked. No hat-trick. Not yet, anyway.

7.10pm GMT

81 min: City take the sting out of the game with some sterile possession. But then suddenly they step up the pace, and Sterling dribbles into the box from the left. His shot is deflected out for another corner.

7.07pm GMT

79 min: Sterling drifts in from the left and looks for the top right. Always high and wide.

7.07pm GMT

78 min: But you know what, it could easily have been two for Watford! Hernandez is sent scampering at full pace down the right. He crosses low and hard. King meets it first time, sweeping wide of the right-hand post. Not far away. Had that been on target - and it wasn’t the easiest of chances - it’s not clear that Ederson was getting to it.

7.05pm GMT

77 min: That’s almost certainly too little, too late for Watford, but it was lovely play by Hernandez, and the hosts deserve something for a staunch second-half display against opponents who have at times threatened to overrun them.

7.04pm GMT

75 min: Jesus comes on for Foden.

7.04pm GMT

GOAL! Watford 1-3 Manchester City (Hernandez 74)

Out of nothing! Hernandez takes up possession on the right-hand corner of the City box and creams a fine shot across Ederson and off the base of the left-hand post. So unlucky. But he doesn’t drop his head, and as the rebound flies across the face of goal, he sticks out a leg to guide it back towards the net. Ederson can’t keep it out, and that’s superb from Hernandez.

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Watford’s Cucho Hernandez pulls a goal back for the home side. Photograph: Paul Childs/Action Images/Reuters

Updated at 7.10pm GMT

7.01pm GMT

73 min: Kucka has a belt from 25 yards. It’s on target and heading into the bottom right, but not at enough pace to fox Ederson.

7.01pm GMT

71 min: Ngakia comes on for Rose.

7.00pm GMT

70 min: Foden sends it into the mixer. Cathcart heads over. Mahrez takes the latest City corner. Watford half clear, but City come back at them, Mahrez tiptoeing along the byline to the right of goal. His cross-cum-shot is blocked and loops high into the air. Laporte waits an age for it to come down, shapes to volley, then dummies to make more space. His eventual effort is bravely saved at close range by Bachmann, who requires a little treatment after taking one in his special area.

6.57pm GMT

69 min: Sterling drops a shoulder to cut infield from the left. He’s crudely brought down in full flight by Dennis, who has the good grace to look sheepish. Free kick.

6.56pm GMT

67 min: Grealish embarked on a long slow-motion dribble down the inside-left channel before Silva’s goal. He was forced to check back, but had attracted quite a few defenders, and that surely contributed to Silva then being found in acres on the other flank. That was his penultimate act of the evening; his last is a shot from the right-hand side of the D that’s deflected over the bar. He’s replaced by De Bruyne, while Gundogan makes way for Mahrez.

6.53pm GMT

65 min: Dennis crosses from the right. King is lurking in the middle, but Ederson is on point and down quickly to smother.

6.53pm GMT

GOAL! Watford 0-3 Manchester City (Silva 63)

This is a peach. Silva, out on the right, waltzes into the box, drops a shoulder to send Rose off for the paper, and passes a curling shot into the top-left corner. That is such a stylish goal, and if we didn’t know it already, this is over.

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Manchester City’s Bernardo Silva celebrates scoring their third goal. Photograph: David Klein/Reuters

Updated at 6.57pm GMT

6.51pm GMT

62 min: City go up the other end and nearly make it three, Sterling racing down the right before rolling infield for Gundogan, who sends a rising shot towards the top-left corner ... but just too high.

6.50pm GMT

61 min: Some good work by Pedro down the right. He earns a corner which is taken quickly, and taken short. City are a little slow to react, Pedro eventually whipping a low ball into the mixer. It’s shinned away by Laporte.

6.48pm GMT

60 min: Foden powers into the box from the left and sends a fierce low drive off the base of the post and out for a corner ... as Bachman got a little touch to that. Laporte meets the corner on the penalty spot, swivelling and whipping a shot over the bar. Decent effort, that.

6.47pm GMT

58 min: A little bit of space for Sissoko, 25 yards out. The crowd urge him to have a pop. He bows to their wishes, but drags a poor effort well wide left.

6.46pm GMT

57 min: Dennis is tapped on the shin by Rodri as he dribbles into the City box from the left. He goes over, belatedly, and demands a penalty. He’s not getting one. Last season, perhaps.

6.44pm GMT

55 min: Cancelo creams a diagonal ball towards Sterling on the right. Sterling can’t reach it. Goal kick.

6.42pm GMT

53 min: Grealish shapes to shoot on the edge of the box but dummies and rolls forward for Sterling, free for a second on the penalty spot. Sterling takes too much time and his eventual effort is blocked and Cathcart clips clear.

6.41pm GMT

51 min: Cancelo miscontrols and slips, allowing Dennis to make off with the ball down the right. But upon reaching the box he runs into trouble, and City break up the other end. Sterling skitters down the right, moves infield, and bashes a shot straight at Bachmann. This is not going to end 0-2. It just can’t.

6.39pm GMT

50 min: Sterling tries to cross from the right. Blocked. The ball drops back towards him, so, brimming with confidence against the team he loves to play against, he creams a volley towards the bottom left. Cathcart sticks out a leg to deflect out for a corner, which is just as well for Watford, as that was heading in. Nothing much occurs at the corner.

6.37pm GMT

48 min: Watford may as well go for it, and Dennis and Pedro make their presence felt on the edge of the City box. They earn a rare corner, from which Pedro heads over harmlessly, but that’s better from the home side, who would at least test the champions resolve should they somehow get the next goal.

6.36pm GMT

47 min: Sterling and Silva combine again, down the right to earn the first corner of the second half. It’s played short and worked backwards, then Gundogan slips Silva clear down the inside right. He fizzes a low ball across the face of goal. Grealish can’t meet it at the far post, and the flag goes up for offside anyway.

6.34pm GMT

Watford get the second half underway. They’ve made two changes, replacing Cleverley and Louza with Hernandez and Kucka. Meanwhile Simon Johnston has been perusing the scoresheet, with hilarious consequences: “Sterling Silva? Who writes this stuff?” He’s here all week, ladies and gents. Try the pie and Bovril.

6.20pm GMT

Half-time entertainment. This is lovely .

Related: This Sporting Life: looking through Gerry Cranham’s lens – in pictures

6.18pm GMT

HALF TIME: Watford 0-2 Manchester City

The half-time whistle goes. Watford will wish it was the full-time one, because this scoreline seriously flatters the home side. City have been outrageously dominant and have created enough chances to fill a large hat.

6.17pm GMT

45 min +1: Grealish reaches the byline on the right only for his cutback to deflect into the arms of Bachmann. Watford launch a counter, Sissoko making ground down the right. His cross clanks off Laporte and into the arms of Ederson. The home fans want a free kick for a deliberate backpass, but the referee is, quite correctly, not interested.

6.15pm GMT

45 min: Even more effortless football. There will be two added minutes.

6.13pm GMT

43 min: More keepball.

6.11pm GMT

41 min: Silva jigs his way down the right and slips a pass through three defenders towards Gundogan. The resulting shot is blocked out for a corner, which is claimed by Bachmann.

6.09pm GMT

39 min: Foden rolls a ball down the left to release Cancelo, whose low cross is hoicked clear by Femenia. City are pulling Watford all over the place.

6.08pm GMT

38 min: City are knocking it around for their own entertainment. A long game of keepball.

6.06pm GMT

36 min: Silva smoothly makes his way down the inside-right channel and is this close to releasing Gundogan with a slip down the channel. The ball breaks to Sterling on the right; his cross is blocked by Rose. City are rampant.

6.04pm GMT

34 min: Foden misses an absolute sitter. A cross comes in from the right. Troost-Ekong misses his header, the ball dropping to Foden on the spot. Foden spins and slices wide left. This quite feasibly could already be a cricket score.

6.03pm GMT

32 min: ... and then Rose is booked for a late lunge on Grealish, earlier in the move. That all happened just as Watford were tentatively working their way into the match, asking a couple of polite questions up the other end.

6.02pm GMT

GOAL! Watford 0-2 Manchester City (Silva 31)

Gundogan is sent into the box by Silva. He takes a touch to the right, but Bachmann parries his low drive. No matter! The ball falls to Silva, who rounds the keeper and lashes home from a tight angle on the right. A sensational finish to a quick break upfield.

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Manchester City’s Bernardo Silva scores their second goal. Photograph: Paul Childs/Action Images/Reuters
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Then celebrates. Photograph: Lynne Cameron/Manchester City FC/Getty Images
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As do the travelling City fans. Photograph: Ian Walton/AP

Updated at 7.12pm GMT

6.00pm GMT

30 min: Dennis’s effort is harmlessly deflected through to Ederson. City then do what they do, attempting to play through the Watford press, but uncharacteristically get it wrong this time, allowing Sissoko the chance to shoot from 20 yards. Miles over.

5.59pm GMT

29 min: Some good work by King, who latches onto a loose clearance by Laporte and threatens to bomb down the inside-left channel. He’s nicked by Dias, who is fairly fortunate not to go into the book. It’s a free kick, though.

5.58pm GMT

28 min: Gundogan has a dig from the edge of the D. His effort clanks off the back of Grealish and out for a goal kick.

5.57pm GMT

27 min: Cancelo screeches a speculative low drive wide right from 25 yards.

5.56pm GMT

26 min: Well, the corner does lead to trouble, but only for Watford. Ederson punches it clear, and suddenly Sterling is romping up the other end on the counter. Watford look extremely light at the back, but Dennis tracks back to stop Sterling with a fine block.

5.55pm GMT

25 min: Pedro turns on the jets and dribbles down the left at pace. He wins a corner. A chance for the hosts to load the box and cause a little trouble themselves.

5.54pm GMT

23 min: Sterling and Silva play a lovely one-two down the right. Sterling’s sent clear into the box. He can’t quite get his feet in order to shoot, though, and the ball breaks to Grealish, 12 yards out. Grealish leans back and hoicks a shot over the bar, with poor Bachmann seriously isolated. City really should have scored there.

5.51pm GMT

21 min: Grealish sashays his way down the middle and nearly breaks clear into the box. Not quite, but he still spots a little room between a couple of defenders to poke a shot through. His effort takes a deflection but Bachmann isn’t fooled and is able to save.

5.49pm GMT

19 min: Gundogan, deep on the left, very nearly loops a lovely ball onto the boot of Sterling, zipping down the middle. Just a yard too far upfield, and Bachmann is able to gather.

5.47pm GMT

17 min: Dennis shows again, scampering down the right touchline then cutting infield to whistle a shot towards the bottom right. It might have been going wide, but Ederson got down to smother easily enough anyway.

5.46pm GMT

16 min: Space for Sterling down the right. He fizzes low and hard through the six-yard box, but there’s nobody in second-choice white, featuring all-over water graphics and iridescent accents, to trundle home. “How weird to see a young Judi Dench in that Z-Cars clip,” writes Rob Lewis. “Apparently she’s an Everton fan (who knew?), so I expect she’ll want Man City to win this one, so as to blunt the hopes of the Red side of Liverpool.”

Updated at 5.47pm GMT

5.45pm GMT

15 min: Watford finally show in attack, which is probably going to be their best form of defence. Dennis crosses from the right, hoping to find King in the middle. Laporte eyebrows away from danger, just in time.

5.44pm GMT

14 min: Watford haven’t conceded a chance for three minutes, which is progress of sorts.

5.43pm GMT

12 min: They’ve just shown a replay of the King challenge on Foden. King’s lucky not to have walked for that, you know, studding his opponent on the ankle. You’ve seen folk sent off for less. Goodness knows what might happen if Watford go down to ten.

5.41pm GMT

11 min: This is absurd. Foden makes good down the left again, and hooks infield for Grealish, whose attempt to slide home is parried by the busy Bachmann. His first touch, a little heavy, gave the keeper a chance. Watford are hanging on by their fingernails here.

5.40pm GMT

9 min: The corner from the left leads to some pinball in the six-yard box. The ball’s forced out for another corner, this time on the right. From that one, Grealish is afforded a free header, six yards out. He really should score, but slaps his effort straight at Bachmann. This could already be three or four. Watford are in a spot of bother here.

5.38pm GMT

8 min: This already has the sniff of rout about it. Sterling drifts in from the right and sends a low shot across Bachmann and towards the bottom left. The ball’s tipped around the post for a corner.

5.38pm GMT

There is also warm and heartfelt applause for the memory of the tragic Arthur Labinjo-Hughes . Rest in peace, little man.

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A tribute to Arthur Labinjo-Hughes is shown on the big screen at Vicarage Road as applause rings around the ground in his memory. Photograph: Tess Derry/PA

Updated at 6.05pm GMT

5.36pm GMT

7 min: King is booked for an over-zealous challenge on Foden.

5.36pm GMT

6 min: Sterling has now scored 11 goals in nine career appearances against Watford. Don’t rule out that statistic ballooning further this evening.

5.35pm GMT

GOAL! Watford 0-1 Manchester City (Sterling 4)

Foden crosses from the left. Sterling, running in from the other flank, meets the cross and steers a downward header across Bachmann and into the net. Just four minutes gone, and yet that had been in the post.

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Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling heads the visitors into the lead. Photograph: Paul Childs/Action Images/Reuters
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Sterling celebrates after scoring the opening goal. Photograph: Ben Stansall/AFP/Getty Images

Updated at 6.08pm GMT

5.34pm GMT

3 min: City keep the pressure on, and the ball comes almost immediately back to Laporte, six yards out. He opts to leave the ball to Grealish, unmarked next to him. Grealish is somewhat surprised and doesn’t react. Doesn’t matter, though, because ...

5.33pm GMT

2 min: Sterling and Walker combine down the right, forcing Cathcart into the early concession of a corner. Laporte meets it, steering a header towards the top right. It’s heading in, Bachmann beaten all ends up, but Pedro heads off the line! What a start that could have been.

5.30pm GMT

City get the ball rolling ... but only after the taking of the knee. Warm applause greets the gesture. There’s no room for racism.

5.28pm GMT

Smooth, seamless segue dept. Like Everton, Watford run out to the Theme to Z-Cars. Here they come, in their yellow and black shirts. City sport second-choice white, featuring all-over water graphics and iridescent accents, it says here. We’ll be off in a minute1

Updated at 5.29pm GMT

5.26pm GMT

We had a bumper edition of PRE-MATCH PESSIMISM: THE EVERTON WAY ahead of this week’s Merseyside derby. It’s proved popular enough for us to publish another edition today, albeit a shorter one. “Sigh,” begins Eric Peterson. “To be an Everton fan right now. Just when I thought the latest Miseryside Derby was safely in the rear view mirror, I have to deal with the sight of Divock Origi scoring the game-winner in injury time. Sigh.” You have to admire Eric’s commitment to our ongoing feature, despite Everton not even playing today. Pre-Match Pessimism: less a feature, more a way of life.

Updated at 5.26pm GMT

5.18pm GMT

Claudio Ranieri - who, and this statistic is weird enough to classify as psychedelic, has won eight of his nine matches against Manchester City - speaks to Sky. “Another big team, the champions of the Premier League. We will try to do our match. It will be hard, but we always believe and that is important. We have to play. Everything is a good experience for us. Our philosophy is OK, and we are ready.”

5.06pm GMT

Pep talks to Sky. “Watford are so demanding. Against Leicester and Chelsea they played really well, and beat United. They create chances and have a clear philosophy under Claudio Ranieri. We have to adapt to what they do in attack and impose, when we have the ball, our game.”

4.56pm GMT

A big result at Molineux. Wolverhampton Wanderers were 60 seconds of injury time away from becoming the first team to stop Liverpool from scoring this season. Then Divock Origi snatched the most dramatic of winners, and Liverpool leapfrog Chelsea into top spot! City can knock them off with a win here, but that’s a massive goal and a sickener not only for a determined Wolves side but also for the deposed leaders.

Pos Team P GD Pts
1 Liverpool 15 32 34
2 Chelsea 15 26 33
3 Man City 14 21 32
4 West Ham 15 9 27
5 Arsenal 14 -3 23

4.38pm GMT

Watford make one change to the starting XI named for the 2-1 defeat by Chelsea. Danny Rose replaces the injured Adam Masina at left-back.

Manchester City make five changes to the side that beat Aston Villa 2-1. Jack Grealish, Phil Foden, Ilkay Gundogan, Kyle Walker and Aymeric Laporte take the places of Gabriel Jesus, Riyad Mahrez, Fernandinho, Olexander Zinchenko and Nathan Ake, all of whom drop to the bench.

4.34pm GMT

The teams

Watford: Bachmann, Femenia, Troost-Ekong, Cathcart, Rose, Louza, Dennis, Cleverley, Sissoko, Joao Pedro, King.
Subs: Ngakia, Gosling, Fletcher, Tufan, Kabasele, Hernandez, Kucka, Elliot, Morris.

Manchester City: Ederson, Walker, Dias, Laporte, Joao Cancelo, Gundogan, Rodri, Bernardo Silva, Sterling, Foden, Grealish.
Subs: Stones, Ake, Gabriel Jesus, Zinchenko, Steffen, De Bruyne, Fernandinho, Mahrez, Carson.

Referee: Kevin Friend (Leicestershire).

4.30pm GMT

Preamble

Watford were unlucky not to get at least a point against Chelsea on Wednesday night. Whether that performance will give them hope for this evening’s visits of champions Manchester City is a moot point, because here, in reverse order, are their last unlucky 13 results against the Citizens: 0-4, 0-8, 0-6, 1-3, 1-2, 1-3, 0-6, 0-5, 0-2, 1-2, 0-2, 2-4, 0-3. That’s a cumulative score of 50-6 in City’s favour.

Related: Manchester City 6-0 Watford: FA Cup final – as it happened

All runs have to end sometime, and to be fair Watford drew both games in the Premier League in 2006-07, and actually won one in the old First Division back in April 1987. That victory, their last against tonight’s opponents in the top flight, put bottom-placed City on the brink of a relegation that would be confirmed three weeks later. But these were different times, and you wouldn’t put the entire mortgage on it happening tonight. Still, football is as football does, and you never know. Kick off at Vicarage Road is at 5.30pm. It’s on!

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