MANCHESTER, England (Reuters) – A Bernardo Silva hat-trick helped Manchester City to secure the joint second-biggest Premier League victory in history with an 8-0 thrashing of a bewildered Watford on Saturday.
The champions, responding to their first league defeat since January at Norwich City last weekend, blew Watford away by becoming the first side to score five goals in the first 18 minutes of a Premier League game.
David Silva got City up and running after finishing off a delightful pass from Kevin De Bruyne in the first minute, before Sergio Aguero’s 100th Premier League goal at the Etihad Stadium doubled the hosts’ advantage from the penalty spot.
Riyad Mahrez curled a brilliant free kick into the net in the 12th minute, with a Bernardo Silva header and a Nicolas Otamendi tap-in completing the 18-minute rout.
Watford brought on an extra defender just after the half-hour mark to try to stem the tide, seeing themselves through to halftime without further damage, before Bernardo Silva added a sixth goal three minutes into the second period.
Bernardo Silva completed his first top-flight hat-trick with a close-range finish to make it seven, before De Bruyne hammered home a superb eighth as City came up one short of Manchester United’s record 9-0 victory over Ipswich Town in 1995.
“We can lose the games [Norwich match] but the important thing is the approach and how we react,” City manager Pep Guardiola said.
“What I like the most is normally when it’s 5-0 at halftime the second half is not serious, it’s boring, but we did the opposite and we were more aggressive and made a very good second half.”
With Liverpool top of the standings by five points coming into the weekend — the biggest lead after five games at this stage in Premier League history — City were under pressure to close the gap ahead of their title rivals’ Sunday trip to Chelsea.
Fifty-two seconds in and De Bruyne had unlocked Watford with a fantastic pass for David Silva to score and six minutes later, after Mahrez had been fouled in the penalty area, Aguero scored and the match was effectively over as a contest.
Watford looked stunned as the goals rained in but it could have been much worse, with City firing a total of 28 shots — 14 in each half — at Watford keeper Ben Foster’s goal.
Aguero had six shots alone in the 90 minutes but it was Bernardo Silva who took home the match ball for the first time in his career.
City were five minutes away from matching United’s record after De Bruyne’s pick of the bunch, but he and Mahrez missed good late chances to complete a perfect day.
“It’s probably a bit of shock, embarrassment,” Watford’s Foster said. “I think we let ourselves down today and the fans a bit.
“We on the pitch didn’t give it all we have got.”
(Reporting by Peter Hall; editing by Clare Fallon)