Late goals from Toure and Aguero give City unexpected victory
FA Premier League
Saturday 02 January 2016, 17.30 KO
City: Hart, Sagna, Otamendi, Mangala (Bony 75), Kolarov, Fernandinho, Toure, Silva, De Bruyne, Sterling (Navas 60), Aguero (Demichelis 86)
Unused: Caballero, Zabaleta, Fernando, Clichy
Goals: Toure (82), Aguero (85)
Referee: Martin Atkinson
Man of the match: Fernandinho
Late goals from Yaya Toure and Sergio Aguero gave City an unexpected, and perhaps undeserved, victory at Vicarage Road on Saturday evening. Having seen Arsenal extend their lead at the top earlier in the day, Manuel Pellegrini's side were eager to close the gap and stay within touching distance of the league leaders. However, their away form going into the game was a major cause for concern, without a league win since September and only one goal in their previous six games on the road.
Watford, resurgent under manager Quique Flores, started the brighter of the two teams with Troy Deeney and Odion Ighalo posing a constant thread. City, for their part, were sloppy in possession and second best in most departments. Hart saved well from Ighalo, whilst Raheem Sterling spurned City's best chance, blasting over the bar after Fernandinho's shot was saved by Gomes in the Watford goal. The sides went in level at the brak, but it was far from a convincing City display.
The hosts started the second half of the front foot, and deservedly took the lead in the 55th minute. City could be aggrieved that Eliaquim Mangala wasn't awarded a free kick after being pushed in the back by Ighalo, but referee Atkinson awarded a corner. Ben Watson, City's nemesis in the 2013 F.A. Cup Final, swung in a fierce corner that Aleksandar Kolarov inadvertently diverted into his own net. The Serbian full back was seemingly more concerned with obstructing his opponent than actually winning the ball, and paid the price accordingly.
Watford had chances to further extend their lead, with the best falling to Etienne Capoue after slaloming his way through City's defence, before the Bluessprung into life. A Kolarov corner was met full on the volley by Yaya Toure, leaving Gomes with no chance. It was a sublime strike from the Ivorian, and City suddenly sensed victory.
Moments later Bacary Sagna, impressive throughout, crossed from the right and Sergio Aguero planted an unstoppable header into the far corner to spark raucous celebrations in the away end. It was scarcely believable in the circumstances, but City rarely do things in a conventional manner. Aguero was struggling for match fitness and sharpness for much of the game, but Pellegrini will hope this goal will boost his confidence.
If Aguero can rediscover his form, and avoid further injury, City retain a great chance of winning the title, despite having already suffered five league defeats so far this season. They will need to improve drastically on the road, but winning whilst not playing is an ominous sign for their rivals.