LONDON: Manchester City powered to their record Premier League win as the champions scored five times in the first half of an incredible 8-0 thrashing of Watford, while Leicester enjoyed a VAR-assisted 2-1 victory over Tottenham on Saturday.
Inspired by Bernardo Silva’s hat-trick, Pep Guardiola’s side ripped woeful Watford to pieces at the Etihad Stadium, eclipsing a 7-0 success against Norwich in 2013 which stood as their previous biggest top-flight win.
Although City fell one goal short of equalling the biggest Premier League margin of victory — Manchester United’s 9-0 demolition of Ipswich in 1995 -- their swaggering display was the perfect way to erase the bitter taste from last weekend’s shock defeat at Norwich.
Second-placed City move to within two points of leaders Liverpool, who face Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.
City had crushed Watford 6-0 in last season’s FA Cup final and, with injury-plagued left-back Benjamin Mendy making his first start since April, they picked up where they left off at Wembley with a goal inside the first minute at the Etihad Stadium.
Kevin De Bruyne played a superb ball in from the right, leaving David Silva with the simple task of poking home from close range for his first goal of the season.
The champions doubled their lead in the seventh minute after Watford keeper Ben Foster conceded a penalty with a foul on Riyad Mahrez.
Sergio Aguero coolly slotted in the spot-kick for his eighth goal in six games this term, taking the Argentina striker to 100 home Premier League goals for City.
Guardiola had rested Raheem Sterling, but even without their star winger City were rampant and they made it three in the 12th minute when Mahrez’s free-kick hit Watford’s Tom Cleverley in the head and deflected past Foster.
Astonishingly, City scored again in the 15th minute, De Bruyne’s corner nodded on by Nicolas Otamendi for Bernardo to head home.
By the time Otamendi finished off Aguero’s cross in the 18th minute, City had established the fastest 5-0 lead in the Premier League era.
The joint biggest half-time lead in Premier League history wasn’t enough for City and Bernardo struck again with a close-range finish after another flowing move in the 48th minute.
Bernardo completed his first Premier League treble on the hour with a tap-in from De Bruyne’s cross.
De Bruyne set City’s new record mark in the Premier League when the Belgium midfielder scored the eighth in the 85th minute.
LEICESTER ON THE RISE
At the King Power Stadium, Leicester proved their credentials to gatecrash the top four as they came from behind to beat Tottenham.
Harry’s Kane’s improvised 29th-minute opener as he stumbled before flicking home put Tottenham ahead.
However, the game swung Leicester’s way after Tottenham defender Serge Aurier’s goal midway through the second half was ruled out by the finest of margins for offside by VAR.
The hosts built on that lift immediately as Ricardo Pereira equalised before James Maddison struck the winner from long range five minutes from time.
“We’re six games in, we are not getting carried away,” said Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers.
By contrast, Tottenham have now won just two of their first seven games of the season in all competitions and Mauricio Pochettino admitted the VAR controversy had played a role in their latest flop.
Pochettino bemoaned the momentum swing given to Leicester by the long stoppage in play prior to Aurier’s strike being ruled out for an extremely marginal offside against Son Heung-min.
“The emotion of the game changed. The belief it gave to Leicester made things happen differently in the last 10 minutes,” Pochettino said.
Burnley beat Norwich 2-0 at Turf Moor, with New Zealand striker Chris Wood scoring in the 10th and 14th minutes.
Sheffield United piled pressure on Everton manager Marco Silva, whose side were booed off after a 2-0 defeat at Goodison Park, the damage done by Yerry Mina’s 40th-minute own goal and Lys Mousset’s 79th-minute strike.
CHERRIES DOWN SAINTS
Late on Friday, Bournemouth won away at Southampton for he first time with a 3-1 triumph in the south-coast derby.
The Cherries profited from two first-half goals but had to fight off a home resurgence after the break to end a run of no victories in 15 previous trips to Southampton.
Nathan Ake’s 10th minute header from the games first corner handed Bournemouth the early ascendancy at St Mary’s Stadium.
It might have been a bigger lead but Josh King’s 25th minute effort was chalked off after VAR found him to be offside by the width of his foot after he netted at the end of a swift counter attack.
However, 10 minutes later another quick turnover saw the Scandinavian duo of King and Philip Billing storming down the left wing to set up Harry Wilson for his third goal of the season.Southamptons fortunes changed after the break when visiting captain Steve Cook bundled over Che Adams and James Ward-Prowse converted the subsequent 53rd minute penalty.Callum Wilson made sure of the victory after a mix-up in the home defence allowed him an easy finish into an open net deep in stoppage time.
Published in Dawn, September 22nd, 2019