TWO goals after the break handed Manchester City all three points as Watford suffered their first defeat of the 2015/16 Premier League campaign.
The Hornets held on throughout the opening 45 minutes, despite City’s control of possession, but Raheem Sterling handed the hosts the lead at the start of the second half, and Watford rarely looked like coming back.
Fernandinho added a second shortly after to complete the scoring for the league leaders, who have now won four from four in the Premier League.
The Golden Boys’ search for their first league win continues, with Swansea City next up at The Vic on Saturday September 12.
Watford lined-up with one change from last weekend's goalless draw against Southampton.
Almen Abdi came in for Ikechi Anya and started in one of the three advanced midfield positions, alongside Jose Manuel Jurado and Odion Ighalo.
Heurelho Gomes continued in goal, with Allan Nyom, Sebastian Prödl, Craig Cathcart and Jose Holebas making up the back four.
Valon Behrami and Etienne Capoue were the two holding midfield men, while captain Troy Deeney led the line for the Hornets.
Despite the high tempo with which City started, there was a shortage of openings for both sides during the opening stages.
Holebas’ cross was headed behind by Vincent Kompany for a Watford corner on 14 minutes, and after a scramble in the box, Prödl saw a snap-shot deflected wide from Jurado’s delivery.
The hosts were awarded a free-kick 25 yards from goal in the 20th minute after Ighalo’s trip on Navas. Kolarov stepped up and sent a left-foot curler over the wall, but it was too high to trouble Gomes’ goal.
Jurado was dispossessed 30 yards from his own goal four minutes later, allowing Sterling a run at goal. The ex-Liverpool winger took a shot from the left side of the box, but Cathcart did well with the block.
Gomes was twice called into action on 26 minutes, first holding onto a Bacary Sagna shot low down, then tipping Sterling’s drive behind with an impressive save to his right.
Capoue’s pass inside to Abdi five minutes before the break was loose, allowing Fernandinho to nip in and feed Aguero. The Argentine fired in a low effort from the edge of the box, but it was just wide of Gomes’ left post.
Honours even at the break, then, but it took just two minutes of second half football for Manuel Pellegrini’s side to break the deadlock. Sagna whipped in the right-wing cross, and Sterling ghosted in at the near post to convert with a close-range volley.
That lead was doubled on 56 minutes, Fernandinho the scorer this time after finding the far bottom corner from an angle. The Brazilian was left unmarked to the right side of the Hornets’ box, collecting David Silva’s delicate pass.
Anya was introduced in place on Abdi with 62 minutes played, and the Scotland international had the visitors’ best chance so far within five minutes. Deeney dummied Jurado’s inside pass, allowing Anya to receive the ball in plenty of space inside the box, but his right-footed shot was turned behind by Sagna.
Ighalo made way for Miguel Layun in Quique Sanchez Flores’ second change with 18 minutes remaining.
Man City came close to a third on 75 minutes when Kolarov’s inside ball worked its way to Toure on the edge of the box, but the Ivory Coast international’s first-time shot whistled wide of the target.
Watford played their final card, and it was substitute Ben Watson who swapped places in midfield with Capoue.
Gomes palmed away a curling Nasri effort with three minutes to go, then Layun scuffed a right-footed shot wide from just outside the home side’s area, the last chance of the afternoon.
HORNETS: Gomes (GK); Nyom, Prödl, Cathcart, Holebas; Behrami, Capoue (Watson, 76); Jurado, Ighalo (Layun, 72), Abdi (Anya, 62); Deeney (c).
Subs not used: Arlauskis (GK), Hoban, Diamanti, Vydra.
Yellow card: Nyom (43), Prödl (63)
CITY: Hart (GK); Sagna, Kompany (c), Mangala, Kolarov; Fernandinho, Toure; Sterling (Iheanacho, 89), Silva (Delph, 74), Navas; Aguero.
Subs not used: Caballero (GK), Demichelis, Maffeo, Nasri, Roberts.
Goals: Sterling (47), Fernandinho (56)
Yellow card: Kompany (40)
Referee: Mark Clattenburg
Attendance: 53,218 (1,852 Watford)