Match ends, Watford 1, Manchester City 2.
Watford 1-2 Manchester City
Brilliant late goals from Yaya Toure and Sergio Aguero rescued Manchester City as they came from behind to beat Watford in an entertaining finale.
Watford went ahead after the break when Aleksandar Kolarov headed Ben Watson's corner beyond Joe Hart, who had the situation covered, for an own goal.
With defeat looming, Toure side-foot volleyed Kolarov's corner into the near post to level.
And Aguero headed Bacary Sagna's fine cross home to secure a rare away win.
The title contenders were eight minutes from falling six points behind league leaders Arsenal, before Toure and Aguero struck for goals which could prove pivotal this season.
City end their away Blues
It was a first away victory for City since Kelechi Iheanacho scored a late winner against Crystal Palace on 12 September.
City manager Manuel Pellegrini had said that his team's troublesome away form would get better once his players improved their finishing, but until the final 10 minutes there was little evidence to suggest they had turned into ruthless goal-poachers away from the Etihad.
Fernandinho had twice gone close, while Toure and Kevin de Bruyne tested Heurelho Gomes from distance before the Ivory Coast midfielder sparked an unlikely comeback with his third goal in his last four Premier League games.
In just two minutes and 36 seconds, City turned the game around when Aguero - starved of chances in the match and having failed to score in his last five appearances - applied the coupe de grace with a clinical finish.
City will hope the Argentine's goal, his first away from home this season, will spark a return to form for a player who is crucial to his team's title hopes.
Defence still a worry for City
In the absence of their captain and best defender Vincent Kompany with a persistent calf problem, City still have issues to address in defence.
At times Nicolas Otamendi was sloppy in possession and was outmuscled early on by the impressive Odion Ighalo, who forced Joe Hart into a fine save after easily turning the defender inside the box. Eliaquim Mangala also gave a nervy display.
Watford would not have scored their opening goal had Kolarov not flicked Watson's corner towards the far post, but the newly promoted side nevertheless deserved to go ahead.
Ighalo and Troy Deeney have formed a partnership which has seen 20 goals in 20 matches, and they were their usual dynamic selves as the hosts confidently attacked throughout.
Watford manager Quique Sanchez Flores said conceding two late goals was tough to take, but his team can take heart from being comfortably in the top 10 having faced Liverpool, Chelsea, Tottenham and City in their last four fixtures.
Man of the match - Yaya Toure
What the managers said
City manager Manuel Pellegrini: "I've always said this team has character, we never give up.
"I think we were unlucky to be losing the game. It wasn't a corner and then it was an own goal. But we kept our minds and made some changes, always thinking we are able to turn the corner - and we did.
"It was a very close game and tough for both teams but if you see the statistics we deserved to win, we had more shots on target and possession."
Watford boss Quique Sanchez Flores: "It was very difficult to accept. We played really well but we lost our concentration on a set-piece and gave them the opportunity to come back. I'm really pleased with our performance.
"Against very big teams we have been unlucky. Every time we have been close to positive results. It's very difficult to explain to the players why we haven't won. We did everything we could. Ben Watson was perfect. It's a very sad day, the players deserved more.
"It's a big reference for us. Four months ago when we played Manchester City, we played to protect the team and not concede a lot of goals but today we played to win the match."
The stats you need to know
- Yaya Toure has scored three times in the last four Premier League games, having scored one in 13 prior to that.
- Sergio Aguero has now scored against 24 of the 28 different Premier League teams he has faced.
- All seven of Watford's Premier League defeats this season have come against the current top seven in the table.
- Manchester City have lost just one of last 15 Premier League games versus newly promoted teams (W12 D2 L1).
- Man City secured their first Premier League away victory in seven attempts (W1 D3 L3).
Manchester City have a packed fixture list, playing Everton in the League Cup semi-final on Wednesday before travelling to Norwich three days later for the FA Cup third round. Their next league fixture, however, will be at home on 16 January against Crystal Palace. Watford, meanwhile, have a week to recover before facing Newcastle in the FA Cup.
- 2NyomBooked at 38mins
- 7JuradoSubstituted forGuédiouraat 80'minutes
- 20MangalaSubstituted forBonyat 75'minutes
- 42Y Touré
- 17De Bruyne
- 7SterlingSubstituted forJesús Navasat 60'minutes
- 10AgüeroSubstituted forDemichelisat 86'minutes
- 15Jesús Navas
- Martin Atkinson
- Shots on Target
Second Half ends, Watford 1, Manchester City 2.
Wilfried Bony (Manchester City) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Foul by José Holebas (Watford).
Foul by Jesús Navas (Manchester City).
José Holebas (Watford) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Attempt saved. Odion Ighalo (Watford) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal.
Substitution, Manchester City. Martín Demichelis replaces Sergio Agüero.
Goal! Watford 1, Manchester City 2. Sergio Agüero (Manchester City) header from the centre of the box to the bottom right corner. Assisted by Bacary Sagna with a cross.
Foul by Yaya Touré (Manchester City).
Odion Ighalo (Watford) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Goal! Watford 1, Manchester City 1. Yaya Touré (Manchester City) left footed shot from the centre of the box to the top left corner. Assisted by Aleksandar Kolarov with a cross following a corner.
Corner, Manchester City. Conceded by Miguel Britos.
Substitution, Watford. Adlène Guédioura replaces Jurado.
Attempt missed. Etienne Capoue (Watford) left footed shot from the centre of the box is high and wide to the left.
Foul by Wilfried Bony (Manchester City).
Troy Deeney (Watford) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Substitution, Manchester City. Wilfried Bony replaces Eliaquim Mangala.
Attempt missed. Almen Abdi (Watford) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the left.
Attempt missed. Yaya Touré (Manchester City) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the left. Assisted by Jesús Navas.
Attempt blocked. Sergio Agüero (Manchester City) left footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Kevin De Bruyne with a cross.
Corner, Manchester City. Conceded by Heurelho Gomes.
Attempt saved. Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom right corner. Assisted by David Silva.
Attempt missed. Yaya Touré (Manchester City) right footed shot from the centre of the box is too high. Assisted by Kevin De Bruyne.
Sergio Agüero (Manchester City) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Foul by Nyom (Watford).
Foul by Eliaquim Mangala (Manchester City).
Odion Ighalo (Watford) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Corner, Manchester City. Conceded by Heurelho Gomes.
Attempt blocked. José Holebas (Watford) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Etienne Capoue.
Substitution, Manchester City. Jesús Navas replaces Raheem Sterling.
Foul by Sergio Agüero (Manchester City).
Miguel Britos (Watford) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Offside, Manchester City. Yaya Touré tries a through ball, but Sergio Agüero is caught offside.
Corner, Manchester City. Conceded by Ben Watson.
Own Goal by Aleksandar Kolarov, Manchester City. Watford 1, Manchester City 0.
Corner, Watford. Conceded by Eliaquim Mangala.
Attempt missed. Fernandinho (Manchester City) header from the centre of the box is just a bit too high. Assisted by David Silva with a cross following a corner.
Corner, Manchester City. Conceded by Craig Cathcart.
Attempt blocked. Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Raheem Sterling.