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Hornets' fate looks sealed as Sterling inspires City

Premier League: Watford 0 Man City 4

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Raheem Sterling

Raheem Sterling

Pool via REUTERS

Raheem Sterling

When you are mired in a Premier League relegation battle the last team you want to face is Manchester City, especially if you are Watford whose worst fears were realised in a 4-0 thrashing at Vicarage Road last night that left them on the brink.

Inspired Raheem Sterling struck twice before half-time while Phil Foden and Aymeric Laporte scored after the break as City racked up a 13th straight win over Watford in all competitions.

The previous two meetings between City and Watford had resulted in an 8-0 home league win for Pep Guardiola's side in September and a 6-0 victory in last year's FA Cup final.

Watford's only consolation was that it could have been even worse yesteray.

With one game left they are now in the bottom three after Aston Villa's shock victory over Arsenal last night, with their goal difference advantage also wiped out.

Watford's trip to the Gunners on Sunday will be a nail-biter and survival is no longer in their hands.

Hayden Mullins, in temporary charge following the surprise sacking of manager Nigel Pearson on Sunday, watched powerless from the touchline as City went through their routines.

Watford did have an early chance when Will Hughes slashed a shot miles wide, but it was mainly one-way traffic.

Sterling opened the scoring after 30 minutes with a stunner. Controlling Kyle Walker's driven pass instantly he looked up and smashed a right-foot effort past Ben Foster. He doubled City's lead when he fooled Hughes into a trip and although Foster saved his spot kick, the rebound fell kindly to the England striker who touched the ball home for his 19th league goal of the season.

Foster performed heroics to deny Sterling and Kevin de Bruyne after the break and made another save from Sterling only for the ball to fall to Foden who tapped it home.

When Laporte headed in a free-kick, Watford were reeling but they managed to avoid any further punishment and had a stroke of luck when Gabriel Jesus's late header was ruled out for offside.

Defeat left the Hornets on 34 points with second-bottom side Bournemouth, who could have been relegated had Watford avoided defeat, on 31. Villa now in 17th also have 34 points and a better goal difference now.

Watford have also scored fewer than Villa and Bournemouth.

Afterwards, caretaker boss Mullin said: "All I know is that we need to go to Arsenal now and get a positive result. I have to be confident in the dressing room. I have to be confident in the boys. We have to go looking for a positive result."