FA Cup Final
Man City 6 Watford 0
Man City wrote themselves into the record books – and perhaps sent a chill down the spine of the domestic game. Who on earth can stop this lot next season?
Watford raised the Wembley roof with their semi-final heroics, but were never going to repeat the feat of recovering a 2-0 half-time deficit. Not against this City side.
Gabriel Jesus and Raheem Sterling scored two apiece, with David Silva and Kevin De Bruyne also on target in an embarrassing rout.
Pep Guardiola’s relentless champions have swept all before them now. The first team to secure the domestic treble. There is a reason it has been so hard to achieve in the past. There is a reason why this team has achieved it.
They equalled the biggest winning margin in FA Cup final history, dating back to Bury v Derby County in 1903 – though Pep will probably be leafing through record books about bigger cup final triumphs in the women’s game in order to keep everyone’s feet on the ground.
City showed no mercy. Only a hunger to keep going, long after victory was effectively secured with the game not yet half done. This was a ruthless expose of excellence – of ball mastery and utter conviction. They looked as if they did not want the game to end.
Watford boss Javi Gracia was powerless to change the outcome – which makes him no different from all his contemporaries in the Premier League who will wonder how they can possibly stymie this juggernaut next season.
His bench simply could not match the abundance of talent among City’s standbys. Stones, De Bruyne, Sane, Otamendi. Aguero, for heaven’s sake. The top scorer in the club’s history. Not even remotely missed.
An early chance for Watford gave them the merest hint of a potential pathway to victory. An interception allowed the Hornets to pounce quickly from deep, with Abdoulaye Doucoure springing Gerard Deulofeu into action with a perfectly weighed pass down the right.
An early cross and suddenly Roberto Pereyra had only Ederson to beat. He could not do it. The Brazilian raced out and blocked with his knee.
There was a penalty appeal not long after when Doucoure’s shot on the turn struck Vincent Kompany on the elbow, as the City skipper turned his back. But that was as good as it got for Watford.
No wonder Elton John opted to stay in Copenhagen for a concert rather than witness this. It would have been too painful a reminder of 1984 and their previous FA Cup final appearance. He must have known what was coming.
City were ahead after 26 minutes when David Silva reacted quickest after a Sterling shot had been blocked, and never looked back.
He got above Kiko Femenia to nod back to Sterling and stayed just onside for a return header into space that he fully exploited. His low shot gave Heurelho Gomes no chance.
And 13 minutes later, it was virtually all over when Bernardo Silva floated a beautifully angled pass into the inside left channel for Jesus to ghost in behind Femenia to touch past Gomes.
Riyad Mahrez then stung the palms of Gomes with a near-post drive as City threatened to run away with it completely before the break.
Jesus was next to nearly make it 3-0, dropping a shoulder to fire at the over-worked Gomes at the start of the second half – an effort that also owed much to a superb feint by Sterling to throw two defenders off the scent before a charge into enemy territory.
Jesus did net with a diving header soon after, but was flagged offside. It hardly mattered.
Within six minutes of coming on for Mahrez, De Bruyne rounded Gomes to make it three – Sterling’s little pass forward exposing the beleaguered Watford defence once more.
And on 68 minutes, Jesus bagged his second by scampering through from De Bruyne’s pass to slip the ball past Gomes – defenders trailing in his wake. Who needed Aguero?
Then it was the local Wembley boy’s turn to get in on the act. Sterling had a superbly effective afternoon and got his reward after 81 minutes, dashing into the box to turn in a cross from the left by Bernardo Silva. Gomes got hands to it, but could only push the ball into the roof of the net.
But still he was not done – adding another in the 88th minute, after reacting quickest to a rebound off a post from his initial effort.
He should have had a hat-trick at the death but selflessly squared to Stones and the chance to make it seven was missed.
It was beautiful. It was cruel. It was ominous for everyone else.
Man City: Ederson - Walker, Kompany, Laporte, Zinchenko - Mahrez (De Bruyne 55), Gundogan (Sane 73), D Silva (Stones 79) - B Silva, Jesus, Sterling. Subs not used: Muric, Danilo, Aguero, Otamendi.
Watford: Gomes – Femenia, Mariappa, Cathcart, Holebas – Pereyra (Success 66), Doucoure, Hughes (Cleverley 73), Capoue – Deulofeu (Gray 66), Deeney. Subs not used: Foster, Janmaat, Masina, Kabasele.