Match Report: Defeat At The Etihad
There is a reason Norwich City’s shock 3-2 victory against Manchester City last weekend made headlines around the world. It’s not often that this multi-million-pound team, assembled from the best of the best, slips up.
The self-proclaimed 'Fourmidables' are the reigning champions in the Premier League, FA Cup, League Cup and Community Shield.
Pep Guardiola’s side would not have liked losing ground on leaders Liverpool when they dropped points at Carrow Road and whoever faced them next in the league would surely come up against a side with their tails up.
Unfortunately for the Hornets, this was the case, and Manchester City’s intent was clear from the off. The Golden Boys had a handful of chances going forward, largely through lone forward Gerard Deulofeu, and Quique Sánchez Flores made three attacking changes to chase the game, but the away side was simply no match for a team notorious for putting teams to the sword in this manner.
The first goal came in the first minute. Kevin De Bruyne quickly whipped a dangerous cross into the area and, with both centre-halves focused on beating Sergio Aguero to the ball, David Silva was able to put it past Ben Foster unmarked.
The Hornets could have levelled the scores within minutes. First a loose ball in Ederson’s penalty area was almost picked up the away side before the goalkeeper swept up the danger, then Deulofeu was sent through on goal by Abdoulaye Doucoure. He still had plenty to do, but beat Fernandinho and saw his chipped effort tipped just wide by the goalkeeper.
This seemed only to shift City into another gear, with De Bruyne taking advantage of a loose pass in midfield, surging up the field and playing in Riyad Mahrez. The winger tapped the ball past Foster to win a penalty and Aguero converted.
The home side looked dangerous with every attack and made it 3-0 when Mahrez was tripped by Doucourè on the edge of the area and saw his free-kick take a large and fortunate deflection off Tom Cleverley and past Foster.
Bernardo Silva extended the lead shortly after from another cross, before City made it 5-0 through a quickly-taken free-kick which caught the away side off guard. David Silva played in Aguero, who squared the ball to Nicolás Otamendi to finish.
Roberto Pereyra was brought on after 33 minutes to help the Hornets push up the field but after half-time it was quickly six. Bernado Silva scored again from close range after the Hornets failed to clear a ball into the box, and the midfielder grabbed his hat-trick just before the hour mark to make it 7-0.
Sánchez Flores brought on Ismaïla Sarr and then Andre Gray to help the Hornets search for a consolation and the Hornets did have a couple of sniffs at goal. But they were unable to convert, and De Bruyne rounded off an 8-0 win with a stunning strike just before full-time.
HORNETS: Foster, Femenía, Dawson, Mariappa, Holebas; Doucourè, Capoue; Hughes (Sarr 59), Cleverley, Foulquier (Pereyra 33); Deulofeu (Gray 77).
Subs: Gomes, Janmaat, Kabasele, Chalobah, Pereyra, Sarr, Gray.