Writer: Tom Bodell
Date:Saturday January 5 2013
WATFORD put on a brave showing against the riches of Manchester City, but were comfortably beaten by the Premier League champions.
Carlos Tevez opened the scoring with a thunderbolt of a free-kick before Gareth Barry nodded in a second.
Youngster Marco Lopes tucked home the third in injury time.
Gianfranco Zola made six changes from the side which was beaten 4-3 at home by Charlton Athletic.
Jonathan Bond, Nyron Nosworthy, Lloyd Doyley, John Eustace, Matej Vydra and Troy Deeney all came into the side.
Manuel Almunia, Tommie Hoban, Neuton, Almen Abdi, Alex Geijo & Sean Murray all dropped out.
Roberto Mancini named a strong XI with only Joe Hart rested, Costel Pantilimon replacing the England international.
City started brightly with Edin Dzeko slamming their first chance comfortably wide of Bond's right-hand post from a Tevez cross.
Watford broke out their half long enough to create a chance for Fernando Forestieri who saw his drive well blocked.
Bond was forced into his first significant action after a quarter of an hour, reacting well to push away a snap-shot from six yards.
Skipper Vincent Kompany should have done better shortly after, instead slashing a left-footed effort well wide following a corner.
Two minutes later the Belgian could have been celebrating but as he bundled in from close-range the linesman's flag went up for handball.
Barry should have scored after 23 minutes, getting up well but failing to meet David Silva's left-wing cross.
In the 24th minute Tevez nabbed the opener for the hosts after John Eustace was penalised for a foul just outside the penalty area.
The Argentine maverick stepped up to blast home a 20 yard free-kick with Bond totally unsighted.
Shortly after, Watford had perhaps their best chance, Deeney releasing Forestieri who could not beat the imposing Pantilimon one-v-one.
Silva cushioned a half-volley towards te top-corner eight minutes before half-time, only for the imperious Nosworthy to get his head in the way.
A minute before the break Barry added a second, getting up highest to nod past Bond from Tevez's left-wing chip.
Daniel Pudil was replaced by Neuton at half-time with Watford still operating in a 3-4-3/3-6-1 without the ball.
Two minutes into the second period and Nathaniel Chalobah could have buried, skipping a right-footed effort narrowly wide of Pantilimon's right-hand post.
Deeney was unlucky shortly after when he raced to meet a long-ball into the Citizen's half only for Pantilimon to race out and clear.
Watford continued to press and Vydra earned a corner after his shot was blocked, following on from which Neuton saw his left-footed strike unconvincingly grasped by Pantilimon.
Vydra again tested City's stopper when he collected the ball following Geoffrey Mujangi Bia's tackle and curled a right-footer into Pantilimon's palms.
Substitute Mario Balotelli collected the shortly after coming on and fired a low effort which stung the palms of Bond who did well to get down to it.
Deeney had another chance when he stabbed over from Marco Cassetti's right-wing cross, whilst Vydra again saw Pantilimon catch a tame effort.
With time running out, Lopes followed up from Bond's initial save to cap off the scoring.
Make no mistake, City had a lot of chances but Watford also had some very presentable opportunities you would probably have backed them to finish in a league match.
City were comfortable but Watford make a real go of the tie and Mancini's side will doubtless have been harder worked than they would have expected.
The movement and comfort on the ball of the likes of Tevez and Silva was scary. And, as well as Chalobah and Forestieri played, we should never lose sight of the difference between the two sides in every sense.
Manchester City: Pantilimon; Zableta, Kompany (c), Lescott, Clichy; Barry, Garcia; Milner (Sinclair), Tevez, Silva (Lopes); Dzeko (Balotelli).
Subs unused: Hart (GK), Rekik, Nastasic & Suarez.
Watford: Bond; Doyley, Nosworthy; Cassetti, Eustace (c) (Battocchio), Chalobah, Pudil (Neuton); Forestieri (Mujangia Bia), Deeney & Vydra.
Subs unused: Bonham (GK), Yeates, Anya & Geijo.
Referee: Mr P Dowd.
Date:Saturday January 5 2013
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