Thursday 26 April 2018

Aguero hits four in cruise for relentless Blues

Manchester City 5 Leicester City 1

Sergio Aguero was on fire for Manchester City yesterday. Photo: Reuters
Sergio Aguero was on fire for Manchester City yesterday. Photo: Reuters

Jamie Jackson

Manchester City will fly to Basel for Tuesday's Champions League last-16 encounter in fine heart due to this impressive win. Their lead is 16 points - until Manchester United play today, at least - and they need a maximum 20 more for a third Premier League title in six years.

Pep Guardiola made two changes after the draw against Burnley last weekend, dropping Danilo and Vincent Kompany to the bench for Oleksandr Zinchenko and Aymeric Laporte.

Matty James of Leicester City and Phil Foden of Manchester City battle for the ball. Photo: Getty Images
Matty James of Leicester City and Phil Foden of Manchester City battle for the ball. Photo: Getty Images

Claude Puel decided Ben Chilwell and Matty James should start and that Danny Simpson and Kelechi Iheanacho should be replacements as Riyad Mahrez's exile ended, the Algerian taking a place on the bench against the team who tried to buy him late last month.

As Manchester City have only ever lost once at home under Guardiola what any opposition does not need is to concede early. Yet after 125 seconds the Foxes did exactly that. This was a goal straight out of the Catalan's playbook and, inevitably, was created by Kevin De Bruyne.

The Belgian sliced the ball behind a stricken Leicester defence, it passed Sergio Aguero, and there was Raheem Sterling to poach a 20th of the season. Given his glaring miss that might have sealed all three points at Burnley last time out this was the boost he needed.

It had the home crowd regaling him with "Raheem Sterling, he's top of the league" and handed Leicester even more of a challenge. Their natural game of hitting Jamie Vardy on the counter-attack has previously caused Manchester City problems but to do that some possession is required.

Sergio Aguero of Manchester City scores his sides fifth goal and his fourth. Photo: Getty Images
Sergio Aguero of Manchester City scores his sides fifth goal and his fourth. Photo: Getty Images

Here they struggled to retain the ball as the first half approached its midway juncture. It was being constantly ceded which allowed Guardiola's side to play the lightning-quick game that can be near-impossible to defend. One move had the ball relayed from Sterling to Ilkay Gündogan through to Agüero and suddenly he was clear though could not finish.

Now, though, Leicester gave a warning with their own quick break that pinged the ball between Christian Fuchs, Fousseni Diabaté and Vardy. After Agüero again dallied at the tip of Manchester City's next break, Leicester equalised.

This was due to a howler from Nicolás Otamendi. The misplaced pass he handed Vardy had Guardiola despairing at what might follow. After Zinchenko and Gündogan each tried and failed to slide in the centre-forward raced towards Ederson's goal and beat him with a sweet right-foot finish for a 14th league strike.

City's response came via some neat Bernardo Silva footwork that ended with Kaspar Schmeichel palming away his cross-shot and a classy De Bruyne effort that failed to beat the keeper.

Aguero then restored the home side's advantage after half-time before adding the crucial third goal just five minutes later.

Puel made his move in the 62nd minute. On came Mahrez and Iheanacho for Diabaté and Chilwell.

This was a positive move but Agüero then did exactly what he does best - kill a match with two more goals in the 77th and 90th minutes to make it 13 in his last 10 appearances.

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