Friday 24 November 2017

Aguero hits five in 20 minutes to turn City fans' boos to cheers

Manchester City 6 Newcastle United 1

Sergio Aguero of Manchester City celebrates scoring his team's six goal
Sergio Aguero of Manchester City celebrates scoring his team's six goal
Sergio Aguero of Manchester City scores his fourth and team's fifth goal
Yoan Gouffran of Newcastle United takes posession
Jesus Navas of Manchester City in action

Paul Wilson

Sergio Aguero scored five goals in 20 minutes as Manchester City moved back to the top of the table by running riot against Newcastle. A record scoring feat was all the more remarkable for being impossible to predict at half-time, when City were jeered off the field by their own supporters.

For poor old Newcastle, still searching for their first win and in front for much of the first half, this outcome was even more cruel than Chelsea's late comeback last week. At least they salvaged a point from that match.

Here, despite more than holding their own in a first half they shaded, they were blown away by a second half explosion that came without warning. Only four other players - Dimitar Berbatov, Andy Cole, Jermain Defoe and Alan Shearer - have scored five goals in Premier League matches, and Aguero was quickest of the quintet by a distance. "We made mistakes and Aguero is a world class finisher," a disconsolate Steve McClaren said. "We showed some of our strengths today but also some of our weaknesses. Conceding five goals in 13 minutes is obviously an issue. We have to toughen up, but City are probably going to win the league this year."

City could have gone ahead in the first few minutes when Tim Krul could not quite hold a Kevin De Bruyne free-kick at the foot of a post. An almighty goalline scramble ensued but somehow Newcastle survived. A couple of minutes later Kevin Mbabu got in the way of a close range Aguero header and that was all the home side managed to create in the first half hour, despite fielding their first-choice attacking quartet for the first time in the Premier League.

Considering the amount of money involved in bringing in De Bruyne and Raheem Sterling, City's lack of penetration was a worry, particularly as Newcastle appeared capable of opening up their opponents with ease. A couple of times City were reprieved by borderline offside decisions, and Hart came to the rescue by sticking out a leg when Mitrovic should have scored, so there was no question that Newcastle deserved the lead they took through exposing the uncertainty that afflicts this defence whenever Vincent Kompany is missing.

First Mbabu knocked the ball past Pablo Zabaleta on the left and confidently beat him for speed. Eliaquim Mangala managed to cut out the cross but only succeeded in setting up Georginio Wijnaldum to produce a better delivery for Mitrovic to beat Hart with a free header.

The only good news for City was that Newcastle did not add to their lead. As half-time approached the home side gradually clawed their way back, with first Aguero and then Fernandinho sending shots narrowly wide. An equaliser finally arrived three minutes before the break, Fernandinho heading David Silva's cross back across goal for Aguero to finish, yet there were still half-hearted boos as the players left the field. Not full-throated, angry dissent, just a low-level expression of disappointment. City are supposed to be better than this.

It was no surprise when the ineffective Sterling was replaced by Jesus Navas for the second half, because it was exactly what some of the home fans had been demanding. It does not necessarily follow that the substitution changed the course of the game, for Navas was not immediately involved and Newcastle contributed to their own downfall by dozily surrendering possession in their own half to invite Aguero to score a quick second.

Nevertheless the fact remains that a mere five minutes after the restart City were 3-1 in front. Silva, especially, seemed to come into his own once City had reorganised. "It was not a good day for Raheem," Manuel Pellegrini said. "We needed a different way to try to penetrate, and David found more room in the second half."

While there was a touch of good fortune about Aguero's second, a deflection off Yoan Gouffran making life difficult for Krul, there was nothing streaky about the rest. The Argentine's third goal came just eight minutes after the first when he latched in to De Bruyne's through-ball and instinctively lifted a shot over Krul. On the hour the Newcastle defence unwisely stood off the striker to allow a shot from the angle of the area with wholly predictable results, before Aguero turned up on the end of a neat passing triangle involving Silva and De Bruyne to steer in a fifth.

The Aguero-fest was only interrupted when De Bruyne scored City's fourth, arguably the best of the afternoon, meeting a Navas cross from the right with a perfectly executed volley. There were more grumbles from the home fans when spoilsport Pellegrini withdrew City's hero shortly after his fifth, though this time they were clearly intended in jest. Had he remained on the field against a dispirited Newcastle side a Premier League record, if not double figures, might have been within reach. Wilfried Bony must have had decidedly mixed feelings about coming on as the follow-up act.

"Kun is amazing, a player who can always make a difference," Pellegrini said, before revealing Aguero had received treatment for a sore thigh during the interval. "It must have been a good treatment, yes?"

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