Manchester City returned to form and increased Watford’s relegation fears with a 4-0 Premier League win at Vicarage Road.
Watford’s interim head coach Hayden Mullins now knows they may need a positive result at Arsenal on Sunday to ensure the hard work done by Nigel Pearson – sacked last weekend – does not go to waste.
City immediately pinned the hosts back at Vicarage Road, but the first opportunity of the evening went to the Hornets with 11 on the clock.
Adrian Mariappa’s long throw was only partially cleared by Joao Cancelo and Will Hughes was first to the loose ball but snatched his effort well wide.
The visitors responded immediately and Watford goalkeeper Ben Foster produced a wonderful save to tip wide Rodri’s deflected effort from long range.
Watford made it to the drinks breaks without conceding; progress after they had been 5-0 down after 18 minutes at the Etihad in September.
The deadlock was eventually broken with 31 played by Raheem Sterling, who trapped Kyle Walker’s cross on the right with precision and smashed into the top corner to leave Ben Foster with no chance.
Once again the Hornets had conceded the opener – the ninth game in a row where they had shipped the first goal.
And nine minutes later it was 2-0 with the floodgates well and truly open despite the best efforts of Foster.
Sterling found space in the area and this time was clipped by Hughes, with referee Michael Oliver pointing to the spot.
Despite Kevin De Bruyne being on the pitch, the England international took responsibility and even though Foster made a fantastic save, Sterling was first to the loose ball and tapped home for his 29th goal of the season.
Phil Foden volleyed in for number three with 62 minutes on the clock, before Kevin De Bruyne edged closer to Thierry Henry’s Premier League assist record four minutes later.
The Belgian’s free-kick was headed home by Laporte at the back post to give City’s captain for the night assist number 19 of the top-flight campaign.
De Bruyne tried to move level with Henry’s record of 20 from the 2002-03 term during the final exchanges at Vicarage Road, but Watford managed to prevent any more damage to their goal difference.
Nevertheless it was a bad night for the Hornets, who head to Arsenal with relegation still a possibility.
Final score: Watford 0-4 Manchester City