LONDON - Watford lurched closer to relegation from the Premier League after a 4-0 hammering at home by a merciless Manchester City on Tuesday for whom an inspired Raheem Sterling scored twice.
Two days after sacking manager Nigel Pearson, Watford were torn apart by Pep Guardiola's side, who also beat them 8-0 in the league in September and 6-0 in last year's FA Cup final.
Starting the day three points above 19th-placed Bournemouth and 18th-placed Aston Villa, Watford held firm for half an hour before Sterling's sensational strike gave City the lead.
Sterling doubled the lead for second-placed City before halftime, tucking home a rebound after his penalty was saved by Ben Foster, and City went hunting for more after the break.
Phil Foden made it 3-0 in the 63rd minute before Aymeric Laporte headed in City's fourth four minutes later.
Watford escaped further punishment but the heavy defeat has wiped out the goal difference advantage they held over Villa, who were in action against Arsenal later, and Bournemouth.
Bournemouth would have been relegated had Watford managed a point but the relegation battle will now go to the last day of the season on Sunday with two from three to join Norwich City.