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Rediff.com  » Sports » EPL PHOTOS: City back to winning ways, Spurs win at Swansea

EPL PHOTOS: City back to winning ways, Spurs win at Swansea

January 03, 2018 11:47 IST

Images from EPL matches played on Tuesday

Manchester City's Sergio Aguero celebrates with teammates after scoring their third goal against Watford at the Etihad Stadium in London on Tuesday

IMAGE: Manchester City's Sergio Aguero celebrates with teammates after scoring their third goal against Watford at the Etihad Stadium in London on Tuesday. Photograph: Andrew Yates/Reuters

Runaway Premier League leaders Manchester City returned to winning ways with a comfortable 3-1 victory over Watford on Tuesday, showing no signs of letting the festive flurry of fixtures impact their momentum.

 

City manager Pep Guardiola responded to Sunday’s goalless draw at CrystalPalace, which ended their 18-match winning run, by fielding a full-strength side with John Stones and David Silva both returning.

Belgian midfielder Kevin De Bruyne, who was stretchered off at Palace after a horrific challenge, was fit to start while Sergio Aguero replaced the injured Gabriel Jesus in the centre-forward role.

If that was a statement of intent -- it was certainly backed up on the field. It took just 38 seconds for the leaders to get ahead when Silva fed Leroy Sane on the left flank and the German’s low cross was turned in at the back post by an unmarked Raheem Sterling.

City looked in the mood to get the business settled early and they should have doubled their lead when Sane, after a clever piece of footwork, cut back to Stones but the defender’s shot, while leaning back, flew high over the bar.

It was not long before the second came, however, and again it was a low ball across the face of the goal that proved Watford’s undoing. Silva fed De Bruyne on the right and the midfielder’s cross was turned into his own net by the sliding Christian Kabasele.

Manchester City's Sergio Aguero and Watford's Molla Wague vie for possession 

IMAGE: Manchester City's Sergio Aguero and Watford's Molla Wague vie for possession. Photograph: Jason Cairnduff/Action Images via Reuters

Marco Silva’s Watford faced a long night of damage limitation and they had their keeper Heurelho Gomes to thank for tipping a curling De Bruyne free kick against the bar.

The counter-attack was Watford’s only likely route to goal and that nearly proved fruitful in the 29th minute when Andre Gray broke clear and burst goalwards but his low shot was well saved by Ederson.

The City keeper did well again to keep out a low drive from Etienne Capoue two minutes before the break but only the most optimistic of Hornets fans would have seen that as a sign of things changing in the second half.

Aguero missed a clear-cut chance to make it 3-0 three minutes after the restart, heading well wide when found unmarked 10 metres out by a trademark pinpoint cross from De Bruyne.

It was that combination, however, that put the game well and truly beyond Watford in the 63rd minute with the help of Gomes who fumbled the Belgian’s cross to leave Aguero with the simplest of tap-ins.

De Bruyne drove into the side-netting from a tight angle in the 78th minute and was immediately taken off by Guardiola, receiving a richly deserved ovation from the Etihad crowd.

Gray got a consolation for Watford in the 82nd minute slotting home a low cross from Andre Carillo.

Llorente punishes old club as Spurs win at Swansea

Tottenham Hotspur's Fernando Llorente celebrates with teammates after netting his side's first goal against Swansea City at Liberty Stadium in Swansea, Wales

IMAGE: Tottenham Hotspur's Fernando Llorente celebrates with teammates after netting his side's first goal against Swansea City at Liberty Stadium in Swansea, Wales. Photograph: Stu Forster/Getty Images

Tottenham Hotspur could afford to start Harry Kane on the bench and watch his replacement Fernando Llorente spearhead their hard-earned 2-0 Premier League win at bottom club SwanseaCity on Tuesday.

Former Swansea man Llorente, enjoying a rare start as Kane recovered from a heavy cold, headed Spurs in front after 12 minutes, although he was clearly offside when meeting Christian Eriksen's free kick.

In incessant driving rain at the Liberty Stadium, Spurs looked largely in control until after the break when Jordan Ayew went close and Jan Vertonghen inadvertently deflected a Swansea attack against his own post.

Yet Kane, brought on for the final 20 minutes, calmed nerves as he superbly set up an 89th-minute goal for Dele Alli that sealed the victory which lifted Spurs to fifth in the table, above their local rivals Arsenal.

A dramatic late win at Watford had given Swansea's new manager Carlos Carvalhal the ideal launch pad for a revival but the Portuguese's first home match in charge illustrated the magnitude of the task facing him.

"You need luck to score and win, yes, but after 90 minutes I think it's clear we were better and deserved the points," Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino told the BBC.

Swansea City's Oliver McBurnie in action with Tottenham's Dele Alli 

IMAGE: Swansea City's Oliver McBurnie challenges Tottenham's Dele Alli (right). Photograph: Paul Childs/Action Images via Reuters

"The first half was so difficult to play football. The weather was horrible, but we dominated and tried to play football."

Even the absence of Kane, not risked from the start with Spurs due to play 48 hours later against West Ham United, did not stop the early one-way traffic in the pouring rain which left surface water on the pitch.

It did, however, mean the Spurs' marksman, who was brought on midway through the second half, missed out on the chance of a third successive league hat-trick, a feat not achieved in English football for 72 years.

Instead, it was Spanish international Llorente who ghosted ahead of his marker and latched on to Eriksen's superb whipped free kick from the left flank to head home past Lukasz Fabianski.

The decision to award the goal clearly exasperated Carvalhal, who was right in thinking Llorente was offside but there could be no argument about the quality of the assist from Eriksen.

It meant the Dane has now been involved in either scoring or setting up 11 goals in eight league matches against Swansea.

Yet after dominating the first half against the side with the worst defensive record in the league, Spurs made heavy weather of the win, a resurgent Swansea coming closest when Mike van der Hoorn's header deflected off Vertonghen's back and struck the woodwork.

Spurs, though, reasserted their superiority when Kane came on, the goalscorer par excellence turning provider as his marvellous through ball on the counter-attack found Alli, who bundled the ball home at the second attempt.

West Ham boss Moyes hails Carroll's towering display

West Ham United's Andy Carroll celebrates scoring their second goal against West Brom

IMAGE: West Ham United's Andy Carroll celebrates scoring their second goal against West Brom. Photograph: John Sibley/Action Images via Reuters

Very few Premier League defenders can cope with the aerial threats posed by West Ham United striker Andy Carroll, club manager David Moyes said after the player's match-winning performance against West Bromwich Albion.

Carroll ended a nine-month scoring drought with a second-half double at the London Stadium on Tuesday, including an injury time winner to push West Ham up to 16th in the league standings.

The 28-year-old's first goal was a majestic header, leaving West Brom defenders Jonny Evans and Kieran Gibbs grounded.

"They were top goals," Moyes told Sky Sports.

"I don't know if there are many centre-halves that could have dealt with his leap for the first goal, and I must say the ball in is terrific.

"And you have to give him great credit for the finish for the second goal."

West Ham moved five points clear of bottom side SwanseaCity having ended their four-game winless run in all competitions.

Moyes admitted his team were not up to the mark but said it was crucial for his team to collect points and avoid getting caught into a relegation battle.

"You can see how important it was, it would have been the same had West Brom scored, (manager) Alan (Pardew) would have felt the same. It was vital three points for us," he added.

"We want to be out of the bottom three. Psychologically you don't want to be in it at all, I was disappointed when we did slip back into it, but tonight we got a result and we've got to try and move on."

West Ham face a short trip to London rivals Tottenham Hotspur in the league on Thursday, before visiting to third-tier ShrewsburyTown in the FA Cup third round on Sunday. 

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