AFPLONDON (AFP-Jiji) — Manchester City opened up a five-point lead at the top of the table with a seventh straight Premier League victory, but was made to work for a 2-1 win at Watford on Tuesday.
City’s goals came on either side of halftime as Leroy Sane chested home to end Watford’s resistance before Riyad Mahrez swept home early in the second period.
However, it had to withstand a nervy finish after Abdoulaye Doucoure bundled home 5 minutes from time.
“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.”
Pep Guardiola made six changes to his starting lineup despite also missing Sergio Aguero and Kevin De Bruyne through injury.
Yet City was still too strong for the dogged host for the vast majority of the game with Watford thankful to goalkeeper Ben Foster for the visitor not racking up the 5-0 and 6-0 thrashings it did on two previous visits to Vicarage Road.
Guardiola changed his entire back four from Saturday’s 3-1 win over Bournemouth and left the in-form Raheem Sterling on the bench for the full 90 minutes.
Mahrez came in for the England international and the luxury of options on offer to Guardiola was obvious as both his wide men found the net in Sterling’s absence.
Elsewhere, Bournemouth moved above Manchester United, which hosts Arsenal on Wednesday, up to sixth thanks to a 2-1 victory over Huddersfield.
Callum Wilson and Ryan Fraser continued their fine personal seasons by giving the hosts a 2-0 lead inside 22 minutes before Terence Kongolo pulled a goal back for the Terriers.
Brighton edged into the top half of the table as, despite playing for more than an hour with 10 men, it beat Crystal Palace 3-1.
The host led 1-0 through Glenn Murray’s penalty before Shane Duffy saw a straight red, but further goals before halftime from Leon Balogun and Florin Andone sealed the three points despite Luka Milivojevic’s late consolation from the penalty spot.
West Ham’s upward trajectory also continued as three goals in 12 second-half minutes beat Cardiff 3-1.