City players celebrate their victory

Goals from Leroy Sane and Riyad Mahrez gave Manchester City a hard-fought win at Watford which re-established their five-point cushion at the top of the Premier League table.

BBC reports that City had been frustrated early on by saves from Watford goalkeeper Ben Foster until Sane scored in the 40th minute by diverting in Riyad Mahrez’s inswinging cross with his chest.

Six minutes after half-time Mahrez – recalled as manager Pep Guardiola once again rotated his team – increased the lead by sweeping in Gabriel Jesus’ cross at the back post.

City controlled the game with more than 70% of possession but Abdoulaye Doucoure scrambled in for Watford in the 85th minute to give the hosts hope of an unlikely comeback.

That resulted in a nervy finish for City as the hosts sent Foster forward for set-pieces, with Guardiola introducing defensive reinforcements to deal with the pressure, but the visitors held on for their seventh successive league win.

The victory moves them five points clear of second-placed Liverpool, who will again try to reduce the gap when they travel to Burnley on Wednesday.