Manchester City coasted home to an unprecedented domestic treble in style, picking off a brave Watford side to rack up a record 6-0 win in the FA Cup final.
Javi Gracia set up to frustrate City and for large periods of the first half, he was vindicated in his efforts as Raheem Sterling and Gabriel Jesus struggled to get on the ball and affect the game high up the pitch. Roberto Pereyra was presented with all the time and space he needed to open the scoring but failed to find the net, a tale of the two sides fortunes in many ways, as soon enough City were able to break the deadlock themselves, with David Silva providing a clinical finish from Sterling’s looped header. Gabriel Jesus, a surprise starter ahead of Sergio Aguero, peeled off Kiko Femenia to prod past Heurelho Gomes at the back post, with Sterling following in to make sure of the goal. Upon the full-time whistle, however, the goal was eventually awarded to Jesus, starving Sterling of the opportunity to score a first FA Cup final hat-trick since Sir Stanley Matthews in 1953.
City turned on the style after half-time, reacting to an early Watford onslaught, to hit four more past the hapless Hornets. Jesus grabbed an assist to lay the ball on a plate for substitute Kevin De Bruyne to coolly slot home, before the Brazilian got his second of the game with a composed finish on the break. Raheem Sterling then provided two clinical finishes from close range, to equal the record winning margin in an FA Cup final – set by Bury against Derby over 100 years ago.
Here are our player ratings following the final.
Ederson - 7
His starting position was instrumental in helping City maintain possession high up the pitch. Made a good early save from Pereyra but Watford mustered very few chances on goal.
Kyle Walker - 7
A conservative performance in the first-half as Watford looked to pin back City’s full-backs. He was rarely able to overlap Mahrez but began to grow in confidence as Javi Gracia’s men committed more bodies forward.
Vincent Kompany - 7
Made some good interventions commanding a packed penalty area well to deal with a couple of dangerous deliveries from Jose Holebas. Was at the centre of not one but two dubious penalty shouts.
Aymeric Laporte - 7
Remained calm in possession and kept Troy Deeney at arms length all game. With Kompany’s future in doubt Guardiola can at least be comforted by the knowledge that Laporte has established himself as one of the world’s best ball-playing centre-halves this season.
Oleksandr Zinchenko - 7
Given the room to operate he was able to reek havoc in the Watford penalty area with some impressive deep curling crosses. The Ukrainian is still yet to lose in a City shirt.
Bernardo Silva - 8
Glided through the midfield with the ball, picking it up deep and roaming forward unchallenged. Despite filling the void left by Fernandinho he transitioned from defence to attack seamlessly, and his whipped ball into the back post picked out Jesus to tap past Gomes.
Ilkay Gundogan - 7.5
Crunched into every fifty fifty and alongside the two Silva’s he pressed to great effect, crowding out Abdoulaye Doucoure and winning back possession before distributing quickly. Picked up a knock late on and was replaced by Leroy Sane.
David Silva - 7.5
Held the line well to collect Sterling’s looping header and strike the ball past Gomes via a deflection for his first goal since December. Endlessly provided runs off the ball and rarely surrendered possession, taking just one unsuccessful touch.
Riyad Mahrez - 7
Looked bright and unpredictable on the ball, the Algerian alternated between taking the ball to the byline or cutting back and whipping the ball in early. He jinked past his marker to draw a good save from Gomes, whilst Holebas was left chasing shadows. He was withdrawn early on in the second half to counteract early Watford pressure and provide more bite in the midfield.
Gabriel Jesus - 9
Peeled off at the back post to create his own luck in a first-half where he struggled for service, seeing his shot cross the line just ahead of Sterling’s boot. As Watford pushed on his outlet on the counter became more and more valuable with his running in behind helping to create City’s third and fourth; the latter a clinical slotted finish.
Raheem Sterling - 10
For most of the first-half he was made to play in front of the Watford defence, being marshalled from side to side and quickly shut down before he tried to pull the trigger. There will be debate for a while after as to whether he touched the ball before it crossed the line for the second goal, but irrespective of such minute details, Sterling came to the fore in the second-half. He grabbed two goals and an assist to round off a superb season in which he has well and truly come of age.
Kevin De Bruyne – 9, broke forward exceptionally to meet Jesus’s cross field pass before calmly taking it past Gomes and firing into an open net. It was only a matter of time before someone met one of his inviting balls into the area, and Sterling duly obliged to round off the scoring for City.
Leroy Sane – 6, probably the most ineffectual City forward on the pitch and yet he still had two shots and completed a dribble – a similar output to Gerard Deulofeu, who was arguably Watford’s most incisive attacking threat.
John Stones – 6, the fact that Stones was a superb block away from himself getting on the scoresheet shows just how dominant City were in the closing stages of the game.
Heurelo Gomes - 6
On his final start in a Watford shirt, Gomes was rendered a mere spectator to City’s relentless attacking power. Arguably he could’ve done more to keep out Sterling’s last two efforts, but that would be clutching at straws.
Kiko Femenia - 5
Watford’s full backs were always going to be in for a tough afternoon, but Femenia certainly didn’t help himself . He let Jesus and Silva get the run on him to put the game firmly in City’s control before being stranded high up the pitch on multiple occasions.
Adrian Mariappa - 6.5
Made some timely blocks and interceptions to prevent Jesus and Mahrez from getting shots on goal. As he and Craig Cathcart began to tire, City were able to pick holes in the backline and clinically take advantage
Craig Cathcart - 6
His work rate cannot be faulted and his nine clearances were testament to the commitment he showed in the face of City’s pace and movement.
Jose Holebas - 5
Mahrez and then Bernardo Silva tore the tempestuous Greek full-back to shreds. He never knew whether to commit or sit back. Offered somewhat of a danger from set pieces but his deliveries were often too close to Ederson.
Gerard Deulofeu - 7
By far Watford’s most dangerous player, he was able to travel with the ball but was more often than not let down by a lack of supporting runners.
Will Hughes - 5.5
Couldn’t really get on the ball as City’s midfield pressed high and in great numbers. Frustration seeped into his play and he began to lunge into tackles and concede possession under little pressure.
Etienne Capoue - 6
Was one of the few players in the Watford team who looked to pick the ball and break past his opponent. The Frenchman completed four dribbles but once he lost possession he was unable to put in the recovery runs needed to try and halt City’s relentless running.
Abdoulaye Doucoure - 6
Dared to burst past the last man in an attempt to gain a foothold high up the pitch but his efforts, like Capoue’s, went unrewarded and their bravery was ultimately punished on the counter.
Roberto Pereyra - 5.5
Wasted a glorious chance to open the scoring, opting to fire straight at the onrushing Ederson instead of lifting the ball over the Brazilian sweeper. Having missed the earlier chance he looked hesitant and his final ball squandered any hopes Watford had of staging a comeback.
Troy Deeney - 6
Had scraps to feed off and the fast paced counter attacking fluidity of both side’s movement didn’t suit his style of play, allowing Laporte to focus purely on transitioning play in possession.
Isaac Success – 5, all three of Watford’s substitutes managed a combined 25 touches, whilst De Bruyne single handedly took more than double that amount despite also coming off the bench.
Andre Gray – 5, Made no noticeable impact on the game, only further contributing to Watford’s malaise.
Tom Cleverley – 5, had the thankless task of putting the shackles on a rampant City midfield and he unsurprisingly buckled under the pressure and undeniable quality of De Bruyne and Sterling among others.
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