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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 19 December 2018

Riyad Mahrez: Manchester City's tense win at Watford will make us 'stronger'

Manager Pep Guardiola pleased with his team's performance at Vicarage Road despite their failure to 'kill the game'

Riyad Mahrez set up Manchester City's first goal and scored the second in the 2-1 win over Watford. AP Photo
Riyad Mahrez set up Manchester City's first goal and scored the second in the 2-1 win over Watford. AP Photo

Riyad Mahrez has said Manchester City's battling performance against Watford will make the team "stronger", while manager Pep Guardiola believes his side's failure to score a third goal almost proved costly.

City secured their seventh successive Premier League win at Vicarage Road on Tuesday night, courtesy of a 2-1 win with goals from Leroy Sane and Mahrez. The reigning champions looked to be cruising to victory before Watford halved their lead through Abdoulaye Doucoure and produced a spell of sustained pressure during the closing stages of the match.

The win moves table-toppers City five points clear of second-placed Liverpool, who can reduce the gap back to two points with a win away to Burnley on Wednesday night.

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Despite creating plenty of chances, City could not reproduce their ruthless recent form, which saw them score 16 goals in the four matches prior, but Mahrez believes the team will benefit from their experience against Watford.

“You are not going to win every game 4-0 or 5-0. Going through these types of games makes you stronger,” the Algerian forward, who joined City from Leicester City in the summer, told City's website.

“We played very well up until the second goal. After that we created more chances and tried to kill the game but in football when you are 2-0 up and the oppositions score, the crowd get behind them and it’s difficult.

“We are very happy to win and get the three points. Now we need to focus every three days. We need to be ready and at our top. Anyone in the top four can still win the league.

“Nothing is done and we need to keep working very hard for each other and the team and trying to win every game.”

Guardiola insisted after the match he was pleased with his team's performance, despite their failure to "kill the game" when 2-0 ahead.

“We had the chances to kill the game and score a third and then maybe a fourth, but we missed them,” Guardiola said. “It is what it is. We are not new in this league and we know it happens.

“In the first half they had one clear chance, but we had many. We had three or four more chances after we went 2-0 ahead when the game was under control.

“Then, OK, we start to lose balls and let them have the opportunity to come back into it. And of course, when they scored with 10 minutes or so to go, you suffer.

"We didn’t score the third, they made it 2-1 and in the last minutes anything can happen. In this league, you have to score the third goal and we didn’t do that, that’s why we suffered near the end.”

Next up for City is a trip to Chelsea on Saturday, and Guardiola has said recuperation during this packed schedule - which comprises three matches in eight days - is paramount.

“Now we try to recover our legs and minds and go to Chelsea on Saturday and play our game," he said. “We know how difficult it is at Stamford Bridge, but first, we must rest and recover.”

Updated: December 5, 2018 04:20 PM

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