Watford failed to secure Premier League safety as they fell to a crushing 4-0 defeat against Manchester City at Vicarage Road.
The visitors were unsurprisingly dominant from the outset, as they sought to manipulate a rigid Watford block through their attacking fluidity and the interchangeabiity of their front five.
A deflected Rodri effort from distance was the only cause for concern for the Hornets early on, however, before Raheem Sterling opened the scoring with an emphatic drive from inside the area.
The England international then bagged a first-half brace after he converted the rebound from his initially saved spot-kick from Ben Foster.
City maintained their comfortable superiority at the start of the second period as the Hornets just about survived a barrage of sky blue attacks. The visitors soon grabbed their third though, as Phil Foden tapped home after some neat work from Kevin De Bruyne in the build-up before Aymeric Laporte converted from the Belgian's free-kick to make it four soon after.
The Frenchman's effort with over 20 minutes remaining certainly would've raised fears about the damage the visitors could inflict, but the Hornets were resolute up until the final whistle to keep the scoreline at 4-0.
Key Talking Point
I mean, what can you say?
Just two days removed from the shock firing of Nigel Pearson, caretaker boss Hayden Mullins was dealt the enviable task of conjuring up a gameplan to thwart a potentially destructive City outfit.
And that's exactly what City were: destructive.
The hosts started brightly and looked to win possession high up the pitch, but after Sterling crashed home the game's opener, all hope was lost for Mullins' side. The visitors were quite simply relentless as Watford just couldn't get out.
Troy Deeney struggled to hold the ball up with the few opportunities he was granted, Ismaila Sarr was completely anonymous, while Watford's defence and midfield as a whole were overwhelmed by the Cityzens' intensity out of possession.
You can't question the effort of Watford's players, however, and they did well to limit the damage to just four - a scoreline which leaves the Hornets on the same goal difference as Bournemouth heading into the final day.
Starting XI: Foster (6); Mariappa (5), Kabasele (5), Dawson (5), Femenia (5); Hughes (7*), Doucoure (5); Sarr (5), Cleverley (5), Pereyra (4); Deeney (4).
Subs: Welbeck (6), Chalobah (N/A), Masina (N/A)
A tireless performances from the English midfielder in the middle of the park.
While he was unfortunate to be on the receiving end of a penalty decision and struggled to play through City's press, his work off the ball was superb.
He was dragged all over the park by the fluid movement of Guardiola's 'free eights' and craftiness of their inside forwards, but he stuck to his task well - thwarting De Bruyne's runs in behind with some lung-busting recovery runs in the opening period.
It may have been unspectacular, but Hughes' display was crucial in limiting the damage.
Key Talking Point
City have often been accused of being a little to robotic and predictable at times this season - as shown in Saturday's FA Cup final defeat to Arsenal - despite their immense goalscoring record, but there was certainly more variation in their attacking play against the Hornets.
Instead of seeing Kevin De Bruyne penetrate the inside right channel and cross at frightening regularity, City - with all their attacking wealth - were able to manipulate Watford's defensive structure through various methods.
The fluidity on display was spellbinding at times, with the narrow positioning of Sterling and Foden either side of Jesus facilitating the advancement of their full-backs and ensuring City were able to stretch the Watford defence, as well as combine in-field with the likes of De Bruyne and Bernardo Silva.
In the end, they ran riot as their counter-press suffocated the hosts into submission. Pep Guardiola may want to continue with Joao Cancelo at left-back, too, with the former Juve man enjoying a fine evening on the opposite flank.
Starting XI: Ederson (6); Walker (6), Garcia (7), Laporte (7), Cancelo (8); Rodri (8), De Bruyne (8), B. Silva (6); Foden (8), Sterling (9*), Jesus (6).
Subs: Mahrez (6), Zinchenko (7), Stones (6)
Sure, he might've drawn a blank in the semi-final defeat, but with his two goals tonight taking his tally to nine since the restart, it's fair to say Sterling is enjoying one of his imperious purple patches.
He was certainly City's most potent threat, especially in the second period when he took more of a inside left position, against the Gunners and was a constant menace at Vicarage Road as he popped up all across the final third.
Sterling's confident display was epitomised with the game's opener, as he displayed tremendous finesse to control Kyle Walker's driven cross/pass before fiercely firing past Foster with a strike blessed with serious technique and venom.
While his second of the night certainly came with a hint of fortune, it was his clever and patient footwork which earned City a penalty. His 19 Premier League strikes this season mean it's his most productive to date.
Raheem Sterling's got 64 goals in two seasons for club and country while playing wide left. A phenomenon.— Jack Gaughan (@Jack_Gaughan) July 21, 2020
No footballer in England has more goals than Raheem Sterling this season (all competitions). But he’s having a “bad season” apparently— ⚡️?? (@Priceless_Silva) July 21, 2020
Watford will looking to hold off Bournemouth and Aston Villa in the fight for survival as they travel to Arsenal on the final day, while Manchester City will be seeking to round off their campaign in style as they host basement boys Norwich.
Source : 90min