Nordin Amrabat admitted Man City nullified Watford's game plan as a second-gear performance from the hosts was more than enough to secure a 2-0 win at the Etihad Stadium last night.

City rarely threatened the Watford goal before taking a 33rd-minute lead through Pablo Zabaleta, but the Hornets offered even less against Pep Guardiola's side in a dull first half.

After the break, and with a different approach from the visitors, they looked more threatening and could have levelled through Odion Ighalo or Etienne Capoue, but were made to pay when David Silva added a second late on.

"In the beginning we were told to be prepared for them to pressure us," he said. "If they did, then we needed to play the ball to Ighalo against Zabaleta and make sure we win the second ball - but it was difficult.

"They created a lot and they have Yaya Toure, who went there in the corner. Even with Ighalo, it was difficult to keep the ball.

"He was holding up some good balls. When you are 50 yards from goal it’s hard for a striker, and he did a good job.

"In the second half we tried to create something and pressed a little bit higher, but you can see they have some really good players in the midfield, who play one-touch football.

"It’s difficult to win the ball back there, and unfortunately we didn’t score a big chance to equalise and in the end they got a second."

Ighalo blazed the Hornets' best chance of the game over the bar with the score at 1-0 and nine minutes to go - from Amrabat's pinpoint cross - but the Moroccan was quick to his defence about the miss.

He said: "In training Ighalo scores a lot of goals, he is confident. He is in good shape, he’s fit and trains hard.

"I think it was unlucky, maybe his touch wasn’t great or it was a little high, he’s a good player and everyone is happy with him."