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Sterling hat-trick sends City four points clear

Sterling hat-trick sends City four points clear

09/03/2019 at 18:20Updated 09/03/2019 at 19:51

Premier League, Etihad Stadium – Manchester City 3 (Sterling 46', 50', 59') Watford 1 (Deulofeu 66)

Raheem Sterling scored his first hat-trick of the season for Manchester City as they beat Watford 3-1 at home to go four points clear of Liverpool at the top of the table.

City were left frustrated in the first half after spurning the few opportunities they created against a defensive Hornets side who made seven changes including dropping Troy Deeney and Gerard Deulofeu to the bench.

The deadlock was broken in controversial fashion with Sterling’s opener which was initially flagged for offside before being given with the ball going in off the City winger from Daryl Janmaat’s touch.

There was no doubts about his second as the former Liverpool man tapped in from close range from Riyad Mahrez’s cross.

And the pick of his goals was his third as he ran onto David Silva’s pass to calmly slot the ball past Ben Foster for his 18th goal of the season.

The visitors, who seemed to have one eye on their FA Cup quarter-final next weekend, improved after bringing on Deeney and Deulofeu and the latter scored with his first touch to reduce the deficit.

But Pep Guardiola’s side cruised to victory as they put the pressure on Jurgen Klopp’s Reds, who face Burnley on Sunday.

A general view of the match during the Premier League match between Manchester City and Watford FC at Etihad Stadium on March 9, 2019 in Manchester, England.

A general view of the match during the Premier League match between Manchester City and Watford FC at Etihad Stadium on March 9, 2019 in Manchester, England.Getty Images

TALKING POINT

Should Sterling’s opening goal have been chalked off?

Replays showed the ball from Aguero was first touched by Janmaat, whose touch then rebounded against Sterling and that took it into the net.

Sterling looked like he was playing the ball and was off-side so it was a strange decision by referee Paul Tierney and his assistant to award the goal.

MAN OF THE MATCH

Raheem Sterling (Manchester City): Not a hard choice. He was fortunate with his opener but his movement paid off eventually after a frustrating opening 45 minutes as he completed his hat-trick with composed finishes.

Raheem Sterling of Manchester City celebrates after scoring his team's third goal during the Premier League match between Manchester City and Watford FC at Etihad Stadium on March 09, 2019 in Manchester, United Kingdom.

Raheem Sterling of Manchester City celebrates after scoring his team's third goal during the Premier League match between Manchester City and Watford FC at Etihad Stadium on March 09, 2019 in Manchester, United Kingdom.Getty Images

KEY MOMENTS:

29' - WHAT A CHANCE! Bernardo's cross is a good one for Aguero who heads it wide, should have scored!

47’ - GOAL FOR CITY! Sterling runs onto a long ball and Janmaat’s touch rebounds against the winger and it goes into the net. The goal is initially disallowed for off-side but after a couple of minutes of discussions between the referee and assistant, it is given.

50’ - GOAL FOR STERLING! No doubts about this one. From Bernardo's through ball, Mahrez fires in a low cross for the England winger to tap it in.

59’ - HAT-TRICK FOR STERLING! He runs onto David Silva's through ball, dummies then lofts it into the net from close range.

66’ - GOAL FOR WATFORD! Deeney's first touch is a flick on for Deulefou to tap it in for his first touch after 21 seconds!

PLAYER RATINGS:

MANCHESTER CITY: Ederson 5, Walker 5, Kompany 6, Otamendi 5, Zinchenko 6, Gundogan 5, Silva 7, Mahrez 7, Sterling 10, Bernardo 8, Aguero 5. Subs: Sane 5, Jesus n/a, Foden n/a/.

WATFORD: Foster 6, Janmaat 8, Britos 7, Kabasele 8, Masina 6, Femenia 6, Cleverley 5, Capoue 4, Doucoure 4, Success 6, Gray 5. Subs: Deulofeu 8, Deeney 7, Cathcart n/a.

KEY STATS

  • Raheem Sterling scored his hat-trick in 13 minutes and 12 seconds - the fastest in the Premier League since Romelu Lukaku's for Everton v Sunderland in September 2016 (11:37)
  • Gerard Deulofeu's goal 17 seconds after coming on was the quickest by a substitute in the Premier League since October 2014, when Sammy Ameobi scored after eight seconds for Newcastle against Spurs.
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