Friday 24 November 2017

Fit-again Jovetic good enough to replace hat-trick hero Aguero – Pellegrini

MANCHESTER CITY 4 WATFORD 2

Stevan Jovetic of Manchester City
Stevan Jovetic of Manchester City
Marcos Lopes of Manchester City passes the ball ahead of Sean Murray of Watford
Manchester City's Sergio Aguero celebrates scoring his sides fourth goal during the FA Cup

Ian Whittell

IF Tottenham, the next opponents to face free-scoring Manchester City, took some comfort from the first half of this memorable FA Cup tie, the second will merely have confirmed the worst fears of Spurs and every other rival to the four trophies in which Manuel Pellegrini retains an interest.

A second-half hat-trick from Sergio Aguero showed the Argentina international is back to his prolific finishing peak, while Stevan Jovetic, a £22m summer signing from Fiorentina, moved a step closer to adding his goalscoring talents to Pellegrini's squad on a permanent basis.

City have now scored an astonishing 110 goals in all competitions this season, yet injury, illness and rumours of off-field disquiet have limited Jovetic (right) to just two of them – a state of affairs which will surely be rectified now the Montenegro forward is back in the fold.

"I had one problem and then another but that is the past and I don't want to think about the past," said Jovetic. "I just want to look forward, and (I) hope we will win a lot of games until the end.

"I had a calf injury at first, then at Leicester (in December) I was in the squad and supposed to play, and I ate something. I had a temperature and was vomiting.

"I couldn't believe it was happening to me, but I just had to stay calm because there was nothing I could do. But I know my value and that the fans will love me."

Pellegrini certainly shares Jovetic's confidence in the player's ability and, given the recruiting record of the City hierarchy in recent months, it would be a surprise were Jovetic to confirm the opinion of some critics who rank him among the summer's biggest transfer failures.

"I am very pleased," said Pellegrini. "I thought the 30-35 minutes he played he did very well. Jovetic is a mix. He's a midfielder and he played a lot of games for Fiorentina behind the striker or on the left wing. He can replace Samir Nasri or Aguero and that is very important for the team."

Of course, where Pellegrini is mistaken is in believing anyone can replace Aguero at present.

After Fernando Forestieri and Troy Deeney shot Watford into a surprise, but fully deserved, first-half lead, Aguero staged a second half finishing masterclass, completing his 30-minute hat-trick in injury-time, although the decisive third City goal was via a 25-yard Aleksandar Kolarov shot which Hornets 'keeper Jonathan Bond allowed to pass through his body and over the line.

Watford – 15th in the Championship – stunned City by scoring twice in the first 30 minutes.

However, after half-time changes, in personnel and intensity, the home side drew level with 11 minutes remaining and went on to keep their hopes alive of a quadruple.

Unsurprisingly, Pellegrini's mood put his customary composure under strain.

"What happened was a lesson to the squad," he said. "But it will happen every year in cup games because the players don't believe it will be so difficult. In the first half we did not give 100pc and that's impossible in football these days." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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