Man City with­stand late Wat­ford on­slaught

Bournemouth move above Manch­ester United up to sixth cour­tesy of a 2-1 win over Hud­der­s­field

Gulf Times Sport - - FOOTBALL -

Pep Guardi­ola called on Manch­ester City to learn from a nervy fin­ish to a sev­enth straight Premier League vic­tory as a 2-1 win at Wat­ford moved the cham­pi­ons five points clear of Liver­pool at the top of the ta­ble on Tues­day night.

City’s goals came ei­ther side of half­time as Leroy Sane chested home be­fore Riyad Mahrez dou­bled the vis­i­tors’ lead early in the sec­ond pe­riod. How­ever, de­spite dom­i­nat­ing for the ma­jor­ity of the game, Guardi­ola’s men had to with­stand a nervy fin­ish after Ab­doulaye Doucoure bun­dled in five min­utes from time. “We have in mind the last min­utes, (in) the last min­utes any­thing could hap­pen,” said Guardi­ola. “I think we played 65-70 min­utes at a top, top level. After 0-2 we lost a lit­tle bit our con­trol. We suf­fered, but that is what it is. We have to learn from what hap­pened in the last 20-25 min­utes.”

Guardi­ola made six changes to his start­ing line-up de­spite also miss­ing Ser­gio Aguero and Kevin De Bruyne through in­jury. Yet, City were still too strong for the dogged hosts with Wat­ford thank­ful to goal­keeper Ben Foster for the vis­i­tors not rack­ing up the 5-0 and 6-0 thrash­ings they did on their two pre­vi­ous vis­its to Vicarage Road.

“When I came to Lon­don I thought Big Ben was in the city but no, he is in Wat­ford for us,” said Wat­ford man­ager Javi Gra­cia. How­ever, Gra­cia’s side also had chances be­fore the break against a City de­fence that ap­peared to miss Aymeric La­porte as the French­man was ro­tated for the first time in the league this sea­son. “It was a good old Premier League game, as soon as they scored long balls start com­ing, they are ex­tremely phys­i­cal up front,” said City cap­tain Vin­cent Kom­pany. “We man­aged the game pretty well. You can’t win ev­ery game play­ing fan­tasy foot­ball.”

Roberto Pereyra has al­ready pro­duced some spec­tac­u­lar goals for the Hor­nets this sea­son and the Ar­gen­tine was inches away from an­other when he curled just wide in­side 10 min­utes. Foster then made great saves to deny Sane and Mahrez when one-on-one, but the best stop of the open­ing half came down the other end when Eder­son stretched out his left foot to block Troy Deeney’s ef­fort from point-blank range.

City fi­nally broke through five min­utes be­fore the break when Mahrez’s cross picked out Sane un­marked at the back post and he clev­erly used his chest to power the ball be­low Foster. Six min­utes into the sec­ond half, the vis­i­tors struck again when Gabriel Je­sus – who en­dured an­other lean night in front of goal in the ab­sence of Aguero – at least made a con­tri­bu­tion as a provider by pulling the ball back for Mahrez to fire home. City got un­char­ac­ter­is­ti­cally slack in the fi­nal quar­ter, though, and were made to pay when Doucoure fi­nally turned home after a goal­mouth scram­ble. Guardi­ola was forced to throw on La­porte and Ni­co­las Ota­mendi in the clos­ing stages to re­pel Wat­ford’s ae­rial as­sault, but City held on.

“They have dom­i­nated the game, they have cre­ated a lot of chances but I think we have done very good work and, at the end in the last min­utes, we had some set pieces to try and get an­other re­sult,” added Gra­cia.

Else­where, Bournemouth moved above Manch­ester United, who were play­ing Arse­nal late last night, up to sixth cour­tesy of a 2-1 win over Hud­der­s­field thanks to early goals from Cal­lum Wil­son and Ryan Fraser to end a run of four straight de­feats. “A lot of re­lief. It wasn’t a vin­tage per­for­mance. At 2-0 you think we can go on but Hud­der­s­field did very well and cre­ated chances. We de­fended hero­ically,” said a re­lieved Bournemouth boss Ed­die Howe.

Brighton edged into the top half as de­spite play­ing for over an hour with 10 men after Shane Duffy’s red card. They beat Crys­tal Palace 3-1 thanks to firsthalf goals from Glenn Mur­ray, Leon Ba­lo­gun and Florin An­done.

West Ham’s up­ward tra­jec­tory also con­tin­ued as three goals in 12 sec­ond­half min­utes beat Cardiff 3-1 with Lu­cas Perez scor­ing his first two league goals since a sum­mer move from Arse­nal.

RE­SULTS

Bournemouth 2 (Wil­son 5, Fraser 22) Hud­der­s­field 1 (Kon­golo); Brighton 3 (Mur­ray 24-pen, Ba­lo­gun 31, An­done 45+4) Crys­tal Palace (Milivo­je­vic 81-pen) 1; West Ham 3 (Lu­cas Perez 49, 54, An­to­nio 61) Cardiff 1 (Mur­phy 90+5); Wat­ford 1 (Doucoure 85) Manch­ester City 2 (Sane 40, Mahrez 51)

(Reuters)

Manch­ester City’s Riyad Mahrez (cen­tre) cel­e­brates with team­mates after scor­ing against War­ford in the Premier League on Tues­day night.

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