Manchester City crush Watford 8-0

Watford’s goalkeeper Ben Foster, down, fouls Manchester City’s Riyad Mahrez during Saturday’s match. (AP)
Updated 22 September 2019

Manchester City crush Watford 8-0

  • Tottenham rocked by Leicester

LONDON: Manchester City powered to their record Premier League win as the champions scored five times in the first half of an incredible 8-0 thrashing of Watford, while Leicester enjoyed a VAR-assisted 2-1 victory over Tottenham on Saturday.

Inspired by Bernardo Silva’s hat-trick, Pep Guardiola’s side ripped woeful Watford to pieces at the Etihad Stadium, eclipsing a 7-0 success against Norwich in 2013 which stood as their previous biggest top-flight win.

Although City fell one goal short of equalling the biggest Premier League margin of victory — Manchester United’s 9-0 demolition of Ipswich in 1995 — their swaggering display was the perfect way to erase the bitter taste from last weekend’s shock defeat at Norwich.

Second-placed City move to within two points of leaders Liverpool.

City had crushed Watford 6-0 in last season’s FA Cup final and, with injury-plagued left-back Benjamin Mendy making his first start since April, they picked up where they left off at Wembley with a goal inside the first minute at the Etihad Stadium.

Kevin De Bruyne played a superb ball in from the right, leaving David Silva with the simple task of poking home from close range for his first goal of the season.

The champions doubled their lead in the seventh minute after Watford keeper Ben Foster conceded a penalty with a foul on Riyad Mahrez.

Sergio Aguero coolly slotted in the spot-kick for his eighth goal in six games this term, taking the Argentina striker to 100 home Premier League goals for City.

Guardiola had rested Raheem Sterling, but even without their star winger City were rampant and they made it three in the 12th minute when Mahrez’s free-kick hit Watford’s Tom Cleverley in the head and deflected past Foster.

Astonishingly, City scored again in the 15th minute, De Bruyne’s corner nodded on by Nicolas Otamendi for Bernardo to head home. By the time Otamendi finished off Aguero’s cross in the 18th minute, City had established the fastest 5-0 lead in the Premier League era.

The joint biggest half-time lead in Premier League history wasn’t enough for City and Bernardo struck again with a close-range finish after another flowing move in the 48th minute. Bernardo completed his first Premier League treble on the hour with a tap-in from De Bruyne’s cross.

De Bruyne set City’s new record mark in the Premier League when the Belgium midfielder scored the eighth in the 85th minute.

At the King Power Stadium, Leicester proved their credentials to gatecrash the top four as they came from behind to beat Tottenham.

The game swung Leicester’s way after Tottenham defender Serge Aurier’s goal midway through the second half was ruled out by the finest of margins for offside by VAR.

The hosts built on that lift immediately as Ricardo Pereira equalized before James Maddison struck the winner from long range five minutes from time.

“We’re six games in, we are not getting carried away,” said Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers. “We had a tough start but I’m so pleased with the players’ focus.”

By contrast, Tottenham have now won just two of their first seven games of the season in all competitions and Mauricio Pochettino admitted the VAR controversy had played a role in their latest flop.

Pochettino bemoaned the momentum swing given to Leicester by the long stoppage in play prior to Aurier’s strike being ruled out for an extremely marginal offside against Son Heung-min.

“The emotion of the game changed. The belief it gave to Leicester made things happen differently in the last 10 minutes,” Pochettino said.

“I’m only going to say that we all accept that system in the game and now I am not going to complain.”

Burnley beat Norwich 2-0 at Turf Moor, with New Zealand striker Chris Wood scoring in the 10th and 14th minutes.

Sheffield United piled pressure on Everton manager Marco Silva, whose side were booed off after a 2-0 defeat at Goodison Park, the damage done by Yerry Mina’s 40th-minute own goal and Lys Mousset’s 79th-minute strike.


Five players out of French Open qualifying due to COVID-19

Updated 21 September 2020

Five players out of French Open qualifying due to COVID-19

  • The qualifiers will begin later on Monday, with the main draw set to commence on Sept. 27

PARIS: Five players have been withdrawn from the French Open qualifying tournament after two players and a coach tested positive for COVID-19, organizers have said.
The qualifiers will begin later on Monday, with the main draw set to commence on Sept. 27.
“The Roland Garros tournament directors can confirm that two players competing in the qualifying tournament have tested positive for COVID-19 and three others have confirmed close contact with a coach who has tested positive for COVID-19,” the French Tennis Federation (FFT) said in a statement.
“In line with tournament health protocols, the five players will not compete in the qualifying tournament and will self isolate for a period of seven days. In total, some 900 tests have been carried out since Sept. 17.”
Organizers did not reveal the names of those who had been pulled out but Damir Dzumhur said he had been withdrawn because his coach Petar Popović had returned a positive test.
“That’s why I can’t play at Roland Garros and I don’t have a chance to compete,” he wrote on his Instagram account.
“He didn’t get a chance to do a second test and we’re sure he was false positive because my coach has antibodies,” added the Bosnian, who reached the third round in Paris in 2015 and 2018.
The French Open will be held from Sept. 27-Oct. 11 after being moved from its usual late May-June slot.
The FFT is planning to allow 5,000 spectators per day following a recent spike in COVID-19 cases in the country. It had previously said the claycourt major would permit a maximum of 11,500 fans per day.