Bernardo at the double as City go top | OneFootball

Bernardo at the double as City go top

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Manchester City Official

City climbed to the top of the Premier League for the first time this season after beating Watford 3-1 at Vicarage Road.

It was yet another scintillating performance on the road as City also set a new Club record in the process.

Goals from Raheem Sterling and Bernardo gave the champions a two-goal advantage at the break, though it perhaps could and should have been many more.

It was a similar story after the re-start, with Bernardo scoring a sumptuous third to seal victory just past the hour.

Phil Foden and Jack Grealish hit the woodwork before Chucho Hernandez  pulled one back on 74 minutes.

What happened?

It was a blistering start by the champions.

The home side barely had a touch as City moved the ball around with speed and purpose, stretching Watford from right to left and mercilessly pinning them in and around their own box.

The warning signs had already been posted when Aymeric Laporte saw a free header cleared off the line by Joao Pedro on three minutes, but the respite was brief as City took the lead a minute later.

Phil Foden received the ball on the left and his curling cross into the six-yard box found an unmarked Sterling who expertly nodded down and past Daniel Bachmann to make it 1-0.

Within the next six minutes, Jack Grealish could have scored another two goals.

First he arrived unmarked to head a corner point-blank at Bachmann – either side would surely given the goalkeeper no chance – and moments later he collected another fine Foden cross but saw his shot beaten away by the Watford No.1.

But if Jack was down about those misses, he didn’t let it affect his game and he was heavily involved in City’s second of the evening.

His ball from the halfway line found Ilkay Gundogan who played  a one-two with Bernardo before seeing his shot saved – but Bernardo was first to the loose ball, skipping past two challenges in a blink before beating Bachmann on his near post to make it 2-0.

It was a fifth Premier League in eight games for the Portuguese who can do no wrong.

Watford improved in the second-half, but City continued to create chances.

On the hour-mark, Foden saw a low shot pushed on to the foot of the post, but four minutes after that, the three points were effectively sealed with more Bernardo brilliance.

On the right of the Hornets' box, he cut inside before curling a powerful drive into the top left corner - a thing of beauty - and his sixth in eight Premier League games.

The only blot on City's copybook came on 74 minutes when Chucho Hernandez fired a crisp low drive past Ederson whose wait goes on for his 100th clean sheet in sly blue.

Bernardo on fire

Bernardo Silva - it's actually hard to find superlatives that do him justice these days.

His two goals were superbly taken, as was his all-round performance (yet again).

The irrepressible midfielder is at the very top of his game and now enjoying his best ever season with the Blues.

And given what has gone before, that is some accolade.

Foden irreplaceable

Phil Foden’s progress from talented teenager to first team regular and England international has been seamless.

But the 21 year-old has now shifted up another gear.

Full of energy and invention, his delivery and ability to pick a pass gets better and better.

Indeed, he has become irreplaceable and you would imagine one of the first names on the team-sheet when fit.

As a footballer, he is also a genuine pleasure to watch.

Teams

CITY: Ederson, Walker, Cancelo, Dias, Laporte, Rodrigo, Gundogan (c) (De Bruyne 67), Bernardo, Grealish (Mahrez 68), Foden (Jesus 75), Sterling

Subs: Steffen, Carson, Stones, Ake, Zinchenko, Fernandinho

WATFORD: Bachmann, Femenía, Troost-Ekong, Cathcart, Rose (Ngakia 71), Louza (Hernandez 46), Dennis, Cleverley (Kucka 46), Sissoko, João Pedro, King

Subs: Gosling, Fletcher, Tufan, Kabasele, Elliot, Morris

STAR MAN: Bernardo

What it means...

City go to the top of the Premier League for the first time this season, moving two points ahead of Chelsea and one point ahead of Liverpool.

What's next?

City travel to Germany to face RB Leipzig in the final Champions League group stage match.

With top spot in Group A already secured, Pep may well use the game to field one or two players who haven't had as many opportunities to start this season as others.

Then, next Saturday lunchtime, the champions host Wolves (kick-off 12.30pm).

Pep reaction

Will appear here shortly...

Stats and facts

  • City are unbeaten in last 19 meetings with Watford in all competitions (W17 D2), netting 62 goals in this run. Only against Norwich (22 between 1965-1981), Walsall (19 since 1897) and West Brom (19 since 2010) have the Blues ever had longer unbeaten runs.
  • City have never lost to Watford in the Premier League (W11 D2), winning our last 11 against them by an aggregate score of 40-5.
  • Pep Guardiola has won all 10 of his meetings with Watford in all competitions, by an aggregate score of 42-4. Against no side does the Catalan have a better 100% win rate in his managerial career (also 9/9 vs Bournemouth).
  • City haven’t lost any of the last 11 matches in all competitions in the month of December (W10 D3). Across those 11 games we have scored 20 goals and conceded only four.
  • City have won each of the last nine away games on Saturdays in the Premier League, scoring 19 times and conceding only twice.
  • City have lost just two of our last 22 Premier League away games (W18 D2), going unbeaten in each of our last seven on the road (W6 D1). Since Pep Guardiola’s first season in charge (2016-17), City have won more away games (73) and away points (230) than any other side in the Premier League.
  • Raheem Sterling has been involved in 13 goals in just nine games against Watford in all competitions (11 goals, 2 assists). Only against Bournemouth (11) has Sterling scored more goals in his senior club career than he has against the Hornets.
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