LONDON - Sergio Aguero scored a hat-trick as Manchester City escaped a huge FA Cup upset by coming from behind to win 4-2 at home to second-tier Watford yesterday.
Watford, beaten Championship play-off finalists last season, went 2-0 up inside 30 minutes through Fernando Forestieri and Troy Deeney to leave free-scoring City at risk of a shock defeat.
However, Aguero struck three times in the last half hour, with Aleksandar Kolarov also on target, to send last season's beaten finalists into the fifth round.
With Watford 15th in the Championship, they were given little chance of pulling off an upset at the Etihad Stadium, but they took the lead in the 21st minute when Forestieri beat Costel Pantilimon.
It was a reward for the visitors' bold start to the game and nine minutes later they made it 2-0, with Deeney finishing off a sweeping move involving Sean Murray and Ikechi Anya.
City's struggles prompted manager Manuel Pellegrini to send on defenders Vincent Kompany and Pablo Zabaleta for the second half and with half an hour remaining the hosts pulled a goal back through Aguero.
The Argentine then plundered an equaliser in the 79th minute, slipping the ball onto his left foot and curling home his 24th goal of the campaign following a raid led by Jesus Navas.
Watford were still within sight of a money-spinning replay, but with three minutes remaining Kolarov deceived visiting goalkeeper Jonathan Bond from distance to make it 3-2, before Aguero completed his treble at the death.
"I was very worried at half-time because I talked with the players a lot before the match and said that in the FA Cup, teams that play in a lower division have a lot of motivation," Pellegrini said.
"I didn't underestimate Watford. I didn't think it would be easy and I told the team this. The players must not believe they have an easy game, but I feel that they had a very good reaction in the second half."
Deeney said that Watford could be proud of their performance.
"People said it was going to be 10-0 and nobody gave us a chance, but we knew we are not a bad set of players," said the striker.