Sterling hat-trick sends City four points clear
Premier League, Etihad Stadium – Manchester City 3 (Sterling 46', 50', 59') Watford 1 (Deulofeu 66)
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.
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.
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
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.Getty Images
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!
- 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.