The reigning champions Manchester City moved to the top of the Premier League for the first time this season with a dominant victory over struggling Watford.
Raheem Sterling headed City ahead after just four minutes as he was free at the back post to face Phil Foden’s excellent cross from the left.
The hosts were repeatedly torn apart by City’s moves, passes and creativity, and only a number of saves from goalkeeper Daniel Bachmann kept the score down on a goal in the first 30 minutes.
But City got a well-deserved second place when Bachmann denied Ilkay Gundogan, but the return fell to Bernardo Silva, who showed excellent ability to beat two defenders and finish well from a narrow angle.
Silva then grabbed his second and City’s third, cut in from the right side of the penalty area and curled a fine finish past Bachmann.
Cucho Hernandez pulled one back for Watford and followed to convert a rebound after his first shot had hit the foot of the post.
After 15 games, City – title winners in five of the last 10 seasons – are one point ahead of Liverpool.
Chelsea started the day as leaders but are now one point behind the Reds in third place after lost 3-2 to West Ham in fourth place.
Six points from eight games under Ranieri
For Watford, this was a sixth defeat in eight games under Claudio Ranieri, albeit from an incredibly tough race, including meetings against five of the current top seven.
They performed excellently to win 5-2 at Everton and 4-1 against Manchester United in Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s last match in charge of the Red Devils, but have only picked up six points since Ranieri replaced the fired Xisco Munoz in October.
Ranieri got a hero reception in Leicester last Sunday in a return to King Power Stadium, where he had led the Foxes to the Premier League title in 2015-16.
But just like in that fight where they lost 4-2, The Hornets’ defensive problems were shown, and only fine goalkeeping from Bachmann denied City a hateful of first-half goals.
Goal scorer Sterling also saved another effort, Jack Grealish – back in the starting line-up for the first time in a month after an injury – was rejected three times and Joao Cancelo shot wide when Watford were knocked out.
After Silva doubled the visitors’ lead in the 31st minute, it became a question of how many City would score.
Sterling is now on 99 Premier League goals and had a chance to reach his century, but had an effort palm of the hand of Bachmann, who also fingered a Foden drive on the post.
The chances kept coming for City with Gundogan shooting over before Silva’s second goal – and the seventh of the season – came in the 63rd minute.
Grealish also had an attack rejected on the crossbar, Bachmann saved from Aymeric Laporte before substitute Hernandez demanded Watford’s consolation in the 74th minute.
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Rate players out of 10 during or after the game. The judge closes 30 minutes after the last whistle.
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- 15CathcartReserved for 85 min
- 3RoseReserved at 31 minReplaced forNgakiaon 71 ‘minutes
- 6LouzaReplaced forHernándezon 45 ‘minutes
- 8CleverleyReplaced forLookon 45 ‘minutes
- 10João Pedro
- 7KingReserved in 7 min
- 3Ruben Dias
- 8GündoganReplaced forDe Bruyneon 67 ‘minutes
- 20Bernardo silva
- 10GrealishReplaced forMahrezon 68 ‘minutes
- 47The footReplaced forGabriel Jesuson 75 ‘minutes
- 9Gabriel Jesus
- 17De Bruyne
- Simon Hooper
Match ends, Watford 1, Manchester City 3.
Second half ends, Watford 1, Manchester City 3.
Attempt missed. Jeremy Ngakia (Watford) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the right. Assisted by Cucho Hernández with a cross following a corner.
Corner, Watford. Granted by Rúben Dias.
Corner, Watford. Conceded by Kevin De Bruyne.
Attempt rescued. João Cancelo (Manchester City) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the center of the goal. Assisted by Kevin De Bruyne.
Foul by Bernardo Silva (Manchester City).
Cucho Hernández (Watford) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Attempt missed. Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City) right footed shot from outside the box is just a bit too high. Assisted by Riyad Mahrez.
Craig Cathcart (Watford) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Gabriel Jesus (Manchester City) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Craig Cathcart (Watford).
Attempt blocked. Bernardo Silva (Manchester City) right footed shot from the center of the box is blocked. Assisted by Gabriel Jesus.
Corner kick, Manchester City. Conceded by William Troost-Ekong.
Attempt blocked. Raheem Sterling (Manchester City) right footed shot from the left side of the box is blocked. Assisted by Bernardo Silva.
Foul by Raheem Sterling (Manchester City).
Kiko Femenía (Watford) wins a free kick in his own half.
Attempt missed. Raheem Sterling (Manchester City) right footed shot from outside the box is too high. Assisted by Bernardo Silva.
Attempt missed. Joshua King (Watford) right footed shot from the center of the box is close, but misses to the right. Assisted by Cucho Hernández with a cross.
Raheem Sterling (Manchester City) wins a free kick in his own half.
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