Gabriel Jesus his four goals as Manchester City moved four points clear of Liverpool at the top of the Premier League table. Rodri added the other as the blues made up some of the goal difference the reds held over City, with Watford scoring a first-half consolation goal as they stare relegation in the face.
After coming through the midweek test against Brighton, City were looking for a further three points to put the pressure back on their Mersey rivals, who face city neighbours Everton on Sunday afternoon.
John Stones and Kyle Walker were not in the team, with City fielding Aymeric Laporte alongside Ruben Dias at the back, with Oleksandr Zinchenko again fitting in at left back. Perhaps with the midweek clash with Real Madrid in mind, manager Pep Guardiola left Phil Foden, Riyad Mahrez and Ilkay Gundogan on the bench, and replaced Laporte, Rodri and Kevin de Bruyne in the second half.
The last time they met in Manchester, City ran out 8-0 winners and were 5-0 up after just 18 minutes. So Watford must have feared another huge drubbing when Gabriel Jesus gave the blues the lead with just four minutes on the clock.
The Brazilian striker met Zinchenko’s cross to guide the ball home and give the blues a perfect start to the match. City were all over the Hornets and it seemed like it was only a matter of time before they doubled their lead.
And they did so in the 23rd minute thanks to the head of Jesus. De Bruyne’s perfect delivery eluded everyone except the Brazil star, and Jesus thumped the header home to make it 2-0. The Watford fans who made the journey must be getting sick of seeing their side outclassed on each visit, but they still made a day of it, singing when they had the ball and celebrating a rare corner.
So they would have been delighted when Hassane Kamara pulled a goal back for their team five minutes later. A rare lapse in the City defence allowed Kamara the freedom on the inside left to thunder a shot beyond the despairing dive of Ederson.
But, any hopes of a comeback were dashed six minutes later as Rodri thundered home City’s third of the afternoon. Jesus found the Spaniard outside the penalty area with a clever pass, and Rodri took a took, picked his spot and fired into the top corner, giving the keeper no chance.
If Watford scored again, it would have made an interesting second half, but it was City who went further in front four minutes after the interval. Kamara’s attempted pass out hit Jesus and the Brazilian was too quick for the defender, but his run was ended by the keeper and the referee pointed to the spot. After a VAR check, Jesus stepped up and sent the keeper the wrong way to bag his hat-trick and City’s fourth of the afternoon.
And the striker was having so much fun in front of goal, he scored again four minutes later. Linking well with de Bruyne, Jesus finished with a side-foot shot to make it 5-1, clawing back some of the goal difference held by Liverpool.
City had further chances to increase the scoreline, but with Real Madrid waiting for them, the blues took their foot off the gas and kept the score at 5-1.
The blues face the Spanish giants on Tuesday as they look to secure their second successive Champions League final against either Villareal or Liverpool. And with Jesus showing a bit of form when they need it most, few would bet against the blues achieving it.
Final score: Manchester City 5-1 Watford