Manchester City 2-0 Watford: Raheem Sterling scores as hosts win four in a row
By Tom McKeown
Last Updated: 29/08/15 9:26pm
Raheem Sterling scored his first Premier League goal for Manchester City as they beat Watford 2-0 at the Etihad Stadium.
Sterling fired the hosts in front early in the second half on Saturday after they struggled to find a way through in the opening period, despite dominating proceedings.
Fernandinho's fine strike then gave Manuel Pellegrini's men a comfortable cushion as they strolled to their fourth victory in succession to maintain their perfect start.
City have yet to concede in 360 minutes of Premier League football this season and they keep their place at the top of the table after another strong performance, while opening up an eight-point gap over reigning champions Chelsea.
The opening stages were played almost exclusively in the Watford half, but the defence was standing firm as the hosts dominated possession.
The first half-chance of the match came at the other end, though, as Sebastian Prodl had two bites at a Watford corner, but his first attempt was blocked before his second deflected wide.
City eventually managed to convert their domination into an opening, but Sterling's shot was diverted off target after an excellent last-ditch challenge by Craig Cathcart.
The Englishman had an even better chance a few minutes later as he picked the ball up in midfield and darted past three defenders, but Heurelho Gomes managed to get an elbow to his low effort and it trickled wide of the upright.
Sergio Aguero was kept fairly quiet in the opening period, but though he went close after good work by Fernandinho to win the ball, he could only fire his 20-yard strike wide of the target.
Pellegrini threw on Samir Nasri for Jesus Navas at the break but it was Bacary Sagna who had the impact down the right as he set up City's opener within two minutes of the restart.
The defender fired in a superb cross and Sterling beat the offside trap, meeting the ball completely unmarked and placing a low volley past Gomes to open his account for his new club.
Watford immediately looked to change their tactics with Troy Deeney – deployed wide on the right from the start – was moved to a more conventional central position.
But on 56 minutes the hosts doubled their lead after Yaya Toure's free kick hit the wall, Watford failed to clear properly and Fernandinho played a neat one-two with David Silva before firing a powerful shot into the corner.
With the result seemingly wrapped up, City eased off but still looked threatening whenever they came forward. Sterling played a square ball to Aguero, but the striker could only scuff a shot from 12 yards out.
Toure also went close, meeting Aleksandar Kolarov's low ball before firing a first-time effort just wide of the upright, while Nasri saw a long-range strike saved by Gomes.
But City were never really challenged on a comfortable afternoon at the Etihad, and they open up an eight-point gap over reigning champions Chelsea after the Blues' defeat to Crystal Palace.
Paul Merson's Soccer Saturday verdict
"I have seen teams go to ground and get a good beating but look like they were going to get a goal. Very rarely do you get someone that never ever, ever, ever looks like scoring a goal. That disappoints me.
"I think Watford took 2,400 fans up there today. Disappointing. They need to change the way they play or they will be going down very quickly."
Manchester City: Hart (6), Sagna (8), Mangala (6), Kompany (7), Kolarov (7), Fernandinho (8), Yaya Toure (7), Silva (7), Sterling (9), Navas (6), Aguero (6).
Used subs: Nasri (7), Iheanacho (5), Delph (6).
Watford: Gomes (6), Nyom (6), Prodl (5), Cathcart (6), Holebas (5), Behrami (5), Capoue (4), Jurado (5), Ighalo (5), Abdi (5), Deeney (5).
Used subs: Watson (6), Layun (5), Anya (6).
Man of the match: Raheem Sterling