Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero scores their third goal. (REUTERS)
MANCHESTER, January 3 (AP): Raheem Sterling scored the quickest goal of the Premier League season at 38 seconds to set Manchester City on its way to a 3-1 win over Watford that moved the leaders 15 points clear on Tuesday.
Christian Kabasele scored an own goal and Sergio Aguero added a third as City bounced back from dropping points for only the second time this season — in a 0-0 draw at Crystal Palace on Sunday.
Andre Gray scored a consolation goal for Watford in the 82nd minute, just as City was about to go six hours without conceding.
Guardiola fielded his strongest possible lineup at Etihad Stadium, taking no chances after the slip-up against Palace two days earlier and with a trip to Liverpool up next in the league.
City beat Watford 6-0 and 5-0 in their two previous meetings and it threatened to be a similar thrashing from the moment Sterling hooked in from close range following Leroy Sane’s fierce center across the face of the six-yard box.
Kevin De Bruyne, who made a quick recovery from what appeared to be a serious-looking leg injury near the end of the Palace match, surprisingly started and provided the cross that was turned into his own net by Kabasele in the 13th minute.
Aguero missed two chances before halftime, and another soon after the break. But the Argentina striker got his 13th league goal of the season when he prodded in from close range after Watford goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes fumbled a cross from De Bruyne.
That was Aguero’s sixth goal in his last three games against Watford, against whom he scored a hat trick away this season.
Gray was denied by a superb diving save from City goalkeeper Ederson Moraes late in the first half but was faced with an empty net when Andre Carrillo crossed from the left after bursting clear. Gray couldn’t miss.
The draw against Palace ended City’s record 18-match winning run.
Llorente punishes old club
Fernando Llorente marked his first Premier League start for Tottenham with a goal against former club Swansea in a 2-0 win.
The Spanish striker started ahead of Harry Kane, who had been ill in recent days, and pounced in the 12th minute by heading home Christian Eriksen’s free kick.
Spurs rode their luck at times against the league’s last-place side — Mike van der Hoorn’s header was deflected against the post in the second half — before Dele Alli scored the second goal in the 89th minute.
It was a third straight win over the festive period for Tottenham, which climbed to within four points of fourth-place Liverpool with a game still in hand. That is against West Ham on Thursday.
Llorente’s 15 goals last season were arguably the main reason why Swansea was able to stay in England’s top division. His summer departure — added to that of Gylfi Sigurdsson — has hurt the Welsh club and it felt almost inevitable that he would cause them more pain on his return to Liberty Stadium.
Replays showed he was in an offside position when Eriksen sent over the cross that Llorente glanced home at the near post.
Tottenham was fortunate not to have Davinson Sanchez sent off early in the second half, when he fouled Martin Olsson when already on a booking. He escaped with a rebuke from the referee and was immediately substituted by manager Mauricio Pochettino.
The game was played in torrential rain, with some puddles forming on the field in the first half.
West Ham beat West Brom
Andy Carroll scored twice, including a stoppage-time winner, as West Ham came from behind to beat fellow struggler West Bromwich Albion 2-1 in the Premier League.
West Ham moved a point above the relegation zone and five points above West Brom, which is now winless in 20 top-flight fixtures. Only three clubs have endured longer runs without a victory in the Premier League: Derby (32), Sunderland (26) and Norwich (21).
West Brom had hopes of ending that negative run when James McClean’s strike deflected off Angelo Ogbonna and looped over goalkeeper Adrian to give the visitors the lead after half an hour.
But Carroll equalized in the 59th minute, heading in Aaron Cresswell’s cross for his first goal of the season.
Carroll doubled his tally in the fourth minute of stoppage time, sliding in to fire home Marko Arnautovic’s low cross.
Palace come from behind
Crystal Palace came from behind to cancel out Shane Long’s first goal in 11 months and win 2-1 at fellow Premier League struggler Southampton.
Palace moved up to 14th, two points above Southampton, which is only out of the relegation zone on goal difference.
The visitors were full of confidence after holding Premier League leader Manchester City to a goalless draw on Sunday, but it was Southampton that took the lead in the 17th minute as Long ended a run of 34 competitive games without a goal.
However, Palace leveled in the 69th when Christian Benteke nodded a chipped pass toward James McArthur, who volleyed in from close range.
Luka Milivojevic curled home the winner from 25 yards (meters), 10 minutes from time.