Watford suffered a 3-1 defeat as a dominant Manchester City eased to victory at the Etihad Stadium.

The Hornets made a nightmare start to the match as Raheem Sterling netted inside a minute and Christian Kabasele turned into his own net soon after.

Sergio Aguero added a third from close range in the second period and Andre Gray scored his first goal since November to notch a late consolation.

Watford remain 10th in the league despite the loss and will turn their attention to FA Cup commitments with the visit of Bristol City on Saturday.

An untimely illness for Stefano Okaka saw Marco Silva opt to recall Andre Gray in attack as one of two changes from the Watford side which lost 2-1 to Swansea last time out.

Tom Cleverley was the other to miss out, with Silva citing fatigue as the reason for the former Manchester United man dropping down to the bench for Etienne Capoue.

The fresh faces barely had time to get accustomed the chilly Manchester air before City were in front as Sterling turned in with 39 seconds on the clock.

Daryl Janmaat failed to track Leroy Sane’s run down the left and he crossed invitingly across the face of goal for Sterling, who was completely unmarked, to tap in from six yards.

Sane was causing all sorts of problems on the left, and should have had a second assist after skipping past Molla Wague and squaring for John Stones who fired over from close range.

Chances were always likely to be at a premium against a City side on a 29-game unbeaten league run, but one presented itself soon after the host’s opener.

A simple lofted ball over the top from a free-kick sent Gray through on goal, only for Ederson to run out and deny the striker’s lofted effort.

City were having all of the possession and the almost inevitable second arrived in the 13th minute as the superb David Silva came to the fore.

Picking the ball up in midfield, the Spaniard slid a pinpoint through ball down the right channel for Kevin De Bruyne.

With Marvin Zeegelaar failing to track the his runner, De Bruyne had all the time in the world to measure a low cross which Kabasele turned into his own net on the slide.

Gray was cutting a largely isolated figure with just under half an hour played before a well-placed pass from Capoue gave him a clear sight of goal.

The record £18.5 million man bore down on goal and fired across goal from the right hand side of the goal.

Again though, he found Ederson impassable and the Brazilian got down well to make a fine stop low to his right and force the ball behind.

After another spell of City dominance, Gray and Capoue combined once more as the half reached its close as the former controlled the ball well and released Watford’s number 29.

The Frenchman couldn’t generate any power in his left-footed shot as he lost his balance and his bobbling strike was routine for Ederson.

It would be Pep Guardiola’s men who would have the final meaningful attack of the half as De Bruyne once again eluded Zeegelaar’s attentions and crossed from the right.

His pull back picked out Sergio Aguero, but the Argentine was found wanting with his finish as he tamely fired at Heurelho Gomes to ensure it remained just 2-0 at the break.

City started the second period at the same frightening pace with which they did the first and really should have been out of sight moments after the restart.

De Bruyne’s cross from the right picked out Aguero some 10 yards out, but the unmarked forward, who was below his best for much of the night, could only glance a header well wide when unmarked.

Mush of City’s best moments were inspired by Silva and De Bruyne and the duo cut Watford open with 58 minutes played.

A delicate dink allowed City’s Belgian midfielder to race down on goal before the ball was taken off his foot by a well-timed Janmaat tackle as he set to shoot.

City didn’t have to wait long for their third when a driven cross, once again from De Bruyne, proved too hot for Gomes to handle and he parried into the six yard box.

Aguero was on hand to stab home the gift and give the scoreline a reflection more befitting of the home side’s overall dominance.

With the outcome of the match now a formality, any fight Watford had in them dissipated and City continued to attack at will.

Aguero could easily have had a second as the Hornets switched off from a free-kick to give him the freedom of the penalty box to curl a shot off target.

Watford did, however, get some joy with nine minutes to play when Andre Carrillo showed a fine turn of pace to set up Gray.

The wide-man breezed past his man and sent in a low cross, which Gray couldn’t miss from point blank range.

The strike mattered little in the grand scheme of things as Watford slipped to a sixth defeat in seven league outings.

Watford will have been aggrieved to see a foul in the box by Nicolas Otamendi go unpunished late on as Roberto Pereyra went down near the byline.

Manchester City: Ederson, Walker, Stones (Danilo 66), Otamendi, Delph, De Bruyne (Bernado Silva71), Fernandinho (Toure 71), Silva, Sterling, Aguero, Sane

Subs not used: Bravo, Gundogan, Mangala, Zinchenko

Watford: Gomes, Janmaat, Wague, Kabasele, Zeegelaar, Watson (Pereyra 62), Capoue (Cleverley 62), Doucoure, Carrillo, Gray, Richarlison (Sinclair 82)

Subs not used: Karnezis, Prodl, Mariappa, Holebas