Manchester City have a habit of making things difficult for themselves, but against Watford on Saturday evening at Vicarage Road, they showed their up to the task of being the last team standing at the end of a wildly exciting, frighteningly unpredictable Premier League campaign. 

Yaya Toure and Sergio Aguero both scored excellent late goals to clinch a dramatic victory from the grasp of an impressive Watford side, who had gone in front via an Aleksandar Kolarov own goal. But this was City's day, showing the spirit and resilience you'd expect to send out the perfect message to their rivals in the new year. 

​The game started with an excellent tempo but it was something City struggled to acclimatise to. Watford showed a determination to get at their visitors right from the off and forced their opponents into a series of defensive mistakes. Firstly, Nicolas Otamendi's suicidal pass across the back four was intercepted by Troy Deeney, who burst into the box but was expertly outmuscled by Aleksandar Kolarov, who spared the blushes of his team-mate. 

But the obvious threat came from Odion Ighalo, searching for a goal in a seventh successive game. Indeed, the striker demonstrated some wonderful forward play when he turned Otamendi effortlessly only to be denied by a fantastic save from Joe Hart. Manuel Pellegrini grimaced from the dugout - the Hornets had made a cracking start and unnerved his side, particularly Otamendi and Eliaquim Mangala, whose performances are under intense scrutiny in the absence of captain Vincent Kompany. 

Coming off a 0-0 draw against Leicester City on Tuesday night, the visitors did feel their way into the game, as Sergio Aguero and David Silva began to feature more prominently. It was the Spaniard, though, who slipped a delightful through ball into Fernandinho's path, only to be blocked by the pre-empting Heurelho Gomes. 

Watford were once again the better side after the break and opened the scoring via Kolarov's own goal, failing to clear Watson's brilliant corner and flicking it straight into his own net when Hart seemingly had it covered, placed directly behind the Serbian. Watson's delivery was outstanding though, curling in a fierce right-footed set-piece to haunt Manchester City again after his FA Cup-winning header for Wigan in 2013. He may not have won his side any silverware with this contribution, but it lit up Vicarage Road and invited the response from their opponents. 

Inevitably, Watford retreated gradually as City probed for an equaliser, staring down the barrel of a sixth league defeat of a relentlessly unpredictable and erratic campaign. Following the introduction of Jesus Navas, on in place of the ineffective Raheem Sterling, City seemed to find a pace and fluidity to their attacks, with De Bruyne at the heart of it. First, the Belgian squared a perfectly-weighted pass to Toure, whose effort lacked control as he blasted over from a promising position. Then, De Bruyne exchanged a neat one-two with Silva before unleashing a wicked shot that forced an excellent stop from Gomes. 

Etienne Capoue was superb throughout for the Hornets and he almost capped a productive evening with a rare goal when he weaved his way through a flimsy City defence, nutmegging Aguero of all people before curling just over the bar. 

And he was left to rue that miss as Toure broke free of his marker and smashed home a glorious volley right out of the top drawer from Kolarov's corner to equalise and deny Quique Flores what would have been a result on par with their 3-0 scalp over Liverpool. 

But were they done? Not in the slightest. The winner was the product of some beautiful football. Bacary Sagna rampaged down the right and delivered a glorious cross on to the head of Aguero, who despite being quiet for most of the game, found the corner with the finest of headers to produce a killer blow with what turned out to be his final touch of the match (Demichelis replaced him). It was far from City's greatest performance but they showed the character and spirit of potential champions here - and not for the first time, Aguero was the matchwinner for Pellegrini's men.