Gabriel Jesus scored four times as Manchester City crushed Watford 5-1 to move four points clear at the top of the Premier League on Saturday.
Jesus stole the show at the Etihad Stadium with the first Premier League haul of three or more goals in his career.
The Brazilian forward had netted only once in the league since September, but he tore Watford to shreds with a predatory display of finishing.
He struck twice in the first half before Watford’s Hassane Kamara briefly reduced the deficit.
Rodri restored City’s two-goal advantage and Jesus bagged two more after half-time to complete the rout. After losing to Liverpool in the FA Cup semi-finals last weekend, Pep Guardiola’s side have signalled their determination to retain the title.
They dismissed Brighton 3-0 on Wednesday and their demolition of second bottom Watford keeps the pressure on second placed Liverpool.
Jurgen Klopp’s men can close the gap back to one point if they beat struggling Everton in the Mersey-side derby at Anfield on Sunday.
In a thrilling title race that looks destined to go down to the wire, City have five league games left as they chase a fourth English crown in five years.
Their stroll against Watford was the ideal prepa-ration for the Champions League semi-final first leg against Real Madrid in Manchester on Tuesday.
Guardiola made six changes from the Brighton game, with Ruben Dias replacing the injured John Stones for his first start since March 1 after a ham-string injury.
Guardiola insisted on Friday that he relishes the pressure that comes with contending for multiple trophies in the final weeks of the season.
“Of course we enjoy it,” he said. “We’d prefer to be in this position than not, having the chance to try to make back-to-back titles. I love it.”
Guardiola’s players appear comfortable amid the title tension. – Incessant City – Since drawing 0-0 at the Etihad in 2006, Watford had lost on each of their previous seven visits, with an aggregate score of 25-2 to City.
They haven’t beaten City since 1989 and it took just four minutes for Guardiola’s men to assert their superiority.
Joao Cancelo’s cross reached Oleksandr Zinchenko and he picked out the unmarked Jesus, who timed his run to finish from close-range.
City’s early dominance was interrupted by a dangerous Watford counter as Emmanuel Dennis surged clear before Zinchenko made a superb last-ditch tackle to avert the danger.
The champions held 80 percent of the possession and that incessant pressure paid off in the 23rd min-ute.—AFP