MANCHESTER, England (AP) — Sergio Aguero's late hat trick rescued Manchester City from FA Cup humiliation at the hands of second-tier Watford, ushering the Premier League title favorites into the fifth round along with Liverpool and Everton on Saturday.
The biggest shock of this season's competition was on when Watford took a 2-0 lead after 30 minutes at Etihad Stadium, only for a remarkable Aguero-led comeback by City in the final half-hour.
The Argentina striker produced clinical finishes in the 60th and 79th minutes to level the score before Aleksandar Kolarov put City in front in the 87th. Aguero completed his hat trick in injury time, keeping Manuel Pellegrini's side in contention for silverware on four fronts this season.
"I wanted to change all of my players at halftime, all 11 of them," Pellegrini said. "The whole team was a disaster in the first half."
There were no such worries for Liverpool, which beat second-tier Bournemouth 2-0 away courtesy of goals by Victor Moses and Daniel Sturridge, and Everton, which eased past third-tier Stevenage 4-0 largely thanks to Steven Naismith's first-half brace.
Everton's victory was marred by a suspected broken left leg suffered by Coast Rica international Bryan Oviedo, which could rule him out of the World Cup this summer.
Premier League teams Southampton, Cardiff, Swansea, Hull and Sunderland — a 1-0 winner over non-league side Kidderminster — also advanced but Crystal Palace, which is fighting relegation in the top flight, was eliminated after losing 2-1 at defending champion Wigan.
With Watford's starting lineup costing 500,000 pounds ($825,000) and City's bench alone worth 84 million pounds ($140 million), few gave the visitors a chance at the Etihad even though City fielded a weakened starting team ahead of Wednesday's Premier League match at Tottenham.
Yet Watford, a 33-1 shot with British bookmakers to beat City, stunned home fans by going into a 21st-minute lead through Fernando Forestieri before Troy Deeney made it 2-0 after 30 minutes.
By the time Aguero scored his first goal, City had four players up front and had resorted to an all-out attack mode. The striker then produced another superb finish to equalize with 11 minutes left and Watford's hopes of a replay were dashed when its goalkeeper, Jonathan Bond, let Kolarov's shot dribble from his grasp into the net.
Continue reading this story on the...