Watford’s head coach was proud of how his players competed against Manchester City but admitted the champions controlled the game as they secured a 2-1 victory at Vicarage Road.

Goals from Leroy Sane and Riyad Mahrez put the Premier League leaders 2-0 and had it not been for the performance of Ben Foster the points could have been completely wrapped up long before Abdoulaye Doucoure gave the hosts late hope by pulling one back.

Javi Gracia said: “We knew today it would be difficult game for us. We needed to work very well in the game if we were to have chances to get a good result.

"They have dominated the game, they have created a lot of chances, but I think we have done good work during all the game and at the end we had some set pieces to try to get a better result.

“I’m very proud of the effort of my players because I know it is very difficult to compete against this team when you are losing and you try press a little bit higher, they find the space and they are really dangerous, but I think my players today deserve the recognition.”

Asked about the display of the Hornets number one, who made at least four top-class saves, Gracia said: “It’s not a surprise to me. He usually does it in all the games.

“I think he played at the same level as the rest of the players because all of the team, in my opinion, are doing very demanding defensive work in the first half and in the second in the moment when we are tired we need to press a little bit higher, with long distances in the last minutes make an extra effort. I think we have played well knowing that playing against City is always very demanding.”

Coming so soon after Saturday’s 2-0 at Leicester City, Watford did not have much time to get ready for the considerable challenge of facing Pep Guardiola’s side, but Gracia felt it was sufficient.

He said: “We had only two days to recover and to prepare for the next game, but I think it was enough to know how we can defend and we can counter-attack.

“In the first half we created two good chances with Roberto [Pereyra] and Troy [Deeney] and in these games, like playing against Liverpool for example, if you don’t score when you have the first one (chance), after it is difficult to manage the game.

“You need sometimes that moment when you score the goal and after you are stronger in your defensive work and you believe in the way you have to compete.

“I think now we have a lot of games and with all the squad ready I have different options to chose and to try to choose the best.”