Ashley Young struck twice against former club Watford as Manchester United won a thrilling contest at Vicarage Road.
With City not in action until Wednesday evening, Jose Mourinho’s side had a chance to put some pressure on the title favourites and did so as they eventually ran out 4-2 winners in Hertfordshire.
Young scored two sublime goals in quick succession, with Anthony Martial adding a third as United seemingly wrapped up three points before the interval.
Watford rallied, however, with Troy Deeney pulling one back from the penalty spot before Abdoulaye Doucoure turned home with six minutes remaining.
A fine solo strike from Jesse Lingard assured United of victory and three points which could prove vital come the end of the season.
After seeing his winner against Brighton on Saturday go down as an own goal, the opener was Young’s first league strike since May 2016.
The 32-year-old needed less than six minutes to add to that tally with an even better goal, this time bending a precise free-kick past a helpless Heurelho Gomes.
Marco Silva’s Watford hit the bar through Richarlison, but never looked like recording a second successive home win over the Red Devils.
The impressive Brazilian came within inches of making contact with Kiko Femenia’s low cross as the hosts looked to strike early against Mourinho’s men.
United slowly grew into the game, although they struggled to link up with Romelu Lukaku.
The first time they successfully fed the Belgian, he played in Lingard, whose pass to Young was thrashed home by the former Watford man to give the visitors the lead.
The England international celebrated with vigour in front of the home fans who had given him a warm reception before kick-off and he was soon getting their backs up once more.
Doucoure was booked for fouling Paul Pogba and Young clinically dispatched a 25-yard free-kick with unerring accuracy.
United continued their onslaught as Martial latched on to a Lukaku through-ball following a poor attempted clearance from Christian Kabasele to finish low past Gomes.
It should have been even worse for Watford at the break, but Gomes saved well from Lukaku before jumping to his feet to make an even better stop from Lingard’s follow-up effort.
The Hornets ended the half on a high as Femenia burst forward and clipped a cross towards Richarlison, who headed against David De Gea’s crossbar.
It was not all good news for Mourinho as Nemanja Matic limped off early in the second half to be replaced by Ander Herrera.
Lukaku wasted a fine opportunity to add a fourth with 15 minutes remaining as he dawdled when picked out free in front of goal and eventually saw a shot blocked from an acute angle.
He whistled another shot inches wide before Watford went up the other end to win a penalty as Rojo brought down substitute Roberto Pereyra, Deeney converting having only just come off the bench himself.
Doucoure looked to have made it a nervy final six minutes for United as he steered Andre Carrillo’s cross past De Gea, only for Lingard to score a brilliant solo effort moments later to finally secure the points.