Manchester City’s nervous finish in an otherwise comfortable win at Watford showed “you can never relax in the Premier League”, according to manager Pep Guardiola.
The reigning champions had controlled Tuesday’s game and led through goals from Leroy Sane and Riyad Mahrez but Abdoulaye Doucoure scrambled in for Watford in the 85th minute to give the hosts hope of an unlikely comeback.
Watford sent goalkeeper Ben Foster forward for set-pieces in a frantic finish, with Guardiola introducing defensive reinforcements to deal with the pressure, but the visitors held on for their seventh successive league win.
“We were much the better side – we deserved to win but you have to kill,” Guardiola said.
“It is never over at 2-0, you need the third goal.
“In the last few minutes they had chances. For five minutes they were better than us.
“You can never relax in the Premier League, that’s why it is nice.”
The trip to Vicarage Road was City’s second of 13 matches in 44 days and Guardiola once again rotated his squad, as he did in the weekend win over Bournemouth.
Sergio Aguero remained sidelined with injury, top scorer Raheem Sterling was rested and an entirely different back four was brought in, including captain Vincent Kompany and England defenders Kyle Walker and John Stones.
Mahrez and David Silva were two of those rested at the weekend and both returned and were influential throughout.
Mahrez’s in-swinging cross from the left was bundled in by Sane with his chest in the 40th minute and then the Algerian swept in Gabriel Jesus’ cross at the back post six minutes after half-time for City’s second