LONDON, March 9 (Xinhua) — Raheem Sterling’s quick hat-trick in 13 minutes spurred Manchester City to a 3-1 commanding victory over Watford at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday, moving the Blues four points clear at the top of the table.
After a goalless first half, Manchester City took the lead one minute into the restart as Watford defender Daryl Janmaat’s clearance attempt bounced off Sterling and looped into the net. Although the England winger was flagged offside when Sergio Aguero passed the ball, referee Paul Tierney confirmed the goal after a long discussion with the linesman.
Despite the controversial opener, Sterling made the game into his own show as he doubled City’s lead four minutes later and completed his hat-trick just before the hour mark.
The Watford fired back in the 66th minute when captain Troy Deeney set up a good pass for Gerard Deulofeu to find the back of the net, but the visitors found no other chances before the final whistle.
“It’s massive [to win the game]. We know how big this half of the season is – every game is a final,” Sterling said.
With the victory, Manchester City have secured a four-point lead over Liverpool, who are to host Burnley on Sunday.
In another match-up on Saturday, Harry Kane’s 26th-minute goal was not enough for Tottenham Hotspur to take away three points from the St Mary’s Stadium as Yan Valery equalized for Southampton in the 76th minute and James Ward-Prowse’s superb free kick sealed the 2-1 victory for the hosts.
The surprising defeat leaves Spur’s third place in danger as Manchester United is trailing by three points with one game to spare. Solskjaer’s men will face Arsenal on Sunday in what is to be the blockbuster of this round.
In the other matches on Saturday, Brighton defeated Crystal Palace 2-1, Cardiff fended off West Ham 2-0 at home, Huddersfield lost 2-0 to Bournemouth, Leicester City triumphed 3-1 at Fulham and Newcastle survived a 3-2 thriller at Everton.