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Citizens great escape over Hornets

Written By: Robert Halter

Manchester City started 2016 with their first visit to Watford since April 2007. In the second minute as Jose Manuel Jurado dictated the play, a square pass from the Hornets captain, Troy Deeney was met full on from twenty five yards out by Almen Abdi, as the ball flew over the crossbar. Three minutes later, after Abdi lost the ball to Aleksander Kolarov, the Citizens winger, dragged his shot wide. In the twelfth minute, after Abdi opened up space for Odion Ighalo, the outstretched foot of City’s shot stopper, Joe Hart, pushed the ball away, after Ighalo had shrugged off the challenge of Nicolas Otamendi. In the sixteenth minute, as Ighalo was sandwiched in between the Citizens captain, Yaya Toure and Fernandinho, who committed the foul, from the resulting free kick, Ben Watson, sent the ball high and wide to the left. But City responded on eighteen minutes, when from a Fernandinho assist, a low long range drive from Kevin De Bruyne, was palmed away by the Hornets keeper, Heurelho Gomes, and as the shot was spilled, Sergio Aguero, could not find a connection to convert the rebound. The Citizens reacted again on twenty eight minutes, after Fernandinho combined with David Silva, before a strong block by Gomes, kept out an effort from Fernandinho, before a follow up shot by Raheem Sterling was blazed over. The Sky Blues were back in full flow within a minute, when a poor goal kick by Gomes was headed through by De Bruyne, and from the left side of the area, Aguero struck the ball into the outside netting by the left post. On the half hour mark, Aleksandar Kolarov was unable to find the target with a blast at goal from distance following a pass by Fernandinho. In the thirty ninth minute, after Eliaquim Mangala pushed Ighalo in the back, from Watson’s free kick, a poor header by Mangala found Jurado, who bent the ball away from the far right post. Just before the break, a long ball in from Jose Holebas, produced an aerial challenge between Deeney and Hart, that resulted in nothing despite the threat of danger. A minute into the re-start from a Holebas throw in, Watson’s low drive required Hart to make a finger tips save at his near post to turn the ball behind, before Hart had to punch away Watson’s corner. On fifty two minutes, Sterling combined with De Bruyne as a first time shot by Silva deflected off Craig Cathcart, and from Silva’s corner, a bullet header by Fernandinho, flew over. But it was the Hornets that struck first on fifty five minutes, as Watson’s whipped in corner was helped into the net with a cruel deflection off Kolarov. The Citizens reacted by switching Sterling with Jesus Navas. On sixty two minutes, Watford were back in the ascendancy, when a strike by Holebas deflected wide off his own player, Ighalo. But within five minutes, City responded after Deeney gave the ball away to Mangala and a ball from De Bruyne was fired over by Toure. The Citizens kept up the pressure within two minutes, after Silva’s lay off was drilled in by De Bruyne, and Gomes had to stoop down low at his left post to put the ball behind with his outstretched hands. With time marching on, from a Navas pull back, a strike by Toure drifted wide of the mark. After Abdi was unable to find the target from a Deeney pass, the Sky Blues switched Mangala with Wilfried Bony. On seventy eight minutes. Etienne Capoue broke through from inside his own half but while cannoning a strike against Otamendi, he put the ball past the right side of the goal. After the Golden Boys took off Jurado for Adlene Guedioura, Watford’s resistance was finally broken in the eighty first minute, when Kolarov’s corner was lampooned into the net with a ferocious volley by Toure. The Hornets then fell behind as Sagna’s right wing cross was met with a perfectly timed cushioned header by Aguero, that crashed into the right side of the goal, two minutes later  as City’s saviour Aguero then made way for Martin Demichelis. Near the end, when Ighalo’s snap shot was stopped by Hart from Guedioura’s looping pass, Manchester City held strong to see out the victory.