Thursday 23 January 2020

'Legend' Aguero hits treble to surge past Henry

Aston Villa 1 Manchester City 6

Sergio Aguero celebrates after scoring his third goal and Manchester City sixth at Villa Park. Photo: Alex Livesey - Danehouse/Getty Images
Sergio Aguero celebrates after scoring his third goal and Manchester City sixth at Villa Park. Photo: Alex Livesey - Danehouse/Getty Images

Jason Burt

This was another "Agueroooo" moment. Far less dramatic than that injury-time goal in 2012 which sealed Manchester City's first Premier League title at the end of his first season with the club, but a significant landmark all the same as the Argentine became the record foreign goalscorer in the 132-year history of the English top flight.

It was also in keeping with Aguero's extraordinary impact that he not only beat Thierry Henry's record, but did so with an emphatic flourish and in three games fewer (255 in all). His hat-trick takes him to 177 - two ahead of Henry - and level with Frank Lampard as the joint-fourth-highest scorer in Premier League history.

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Abject

While Aguero may eventually surpass Andrew Cole (187) and Wayne Rooney (208), it remains unlikely the 31-year-old will catch Alan Shearer's record of 260, although his goals against an abject Aston Villa mean he has 12 -hat-tricks - already beating the former England captain's total. No player has scored more Premier League hat-tricks, and Aguero again gleefully grabbed the match ball at the final whistle as he headed off for the plaudits and tributes.

"I will try," Aguero said when asked whether he could catch Shearer, but to do so he would have to extend his contract, which runs until the end of next season. It is an unlikely prospect as his intention is to head home after a decade of amazing success in City colours.

And to think that Aguero felt he was being forced out when Pep Guardiola first arrived in 2017.

Manchester City's Sergio Aguero scores their sixth goal to complete his hat-trick. Photo: Carl Recine/Action Images via Reuters
Manchester City's Sergio Aguero scores their sixth goal to complete his hat-trick. Photo: Carl Recine/Action Images via Reuters

"He's a legend and legends rise tonight," Guardiola said, and he was certainly won round by Aguero a long time ago. "Thierry Henry is one of the most incredible players to play in this league and he will be proud that Sergio is the guy who breaks his record. He is a legend and Sergio is the same."

Legend but not, for Guardiola, the greatest No 9. "Messi is No 9, No 10, No 9, No 6, No 4," he said, adding: "But of the rest, Sergio is absolutely one of them. [Beating Shearer's record] depends on him. I have said many times he will die scoring goals. It is his talent."

That talent killed off injury-hit Villa, who began the fixture in the bottom three, following Watford's win at Bournemouth, and suffered such a damaging result that it may affect them in future matches - their next home game is against Nigel Pearson's resurgent Watford.

It was a car-crash performance and not least from Danny Drinkwater, who was put straight into the starting line-up after his loan spell from Chelsea to Burnley was cut short.

Manchester City's John Stones in action with Aston Villa's Anwar El Ghazi. Photo: Carl Recine/Action Images via Reuters
Manchester City's John Stones in action with Aston Villa's Anwar El Ghazi. Photo: Carl Recine/Action Images via Reuters

The 29-year-old midfielder was at fault for City's four first-half goals and looked like what he is: a player who has lost his way and barely featured for the past couple of years.

The match was also difficult for Orjan Nyland, who suffered the ignominy of being the first goalkeeper to concede six goals on his Premier League debut. With Pepe Reina watching from the stands, he already knows he will lose his place to the on-loan AC Milan goalkeeper.

It was like shooting fish in a barrel for City, led by the unerring Kevin De Bruyne, and the nature of the goals said it all as they overtook Leicester City to go back to second in the table. In a horrific 10-minute first-half spell for Villa, City claimed three goals.

Brushing

Aston Villa's Tyrone Mings in action with Manchester City's Joao Cancelo. Photo: Carl Recine/Action Images via Reuters
Aston Villa's Tyrone Mings in action with Manchester City's Joao Cancelo. Photo: Carl Recine/Action Images via Reuters

The scoring started when Aguero sent the ball wide to Riyad Mahrez who was allowed to run at the defence, easily brushing aside Drinkwater's weak challenge. With Kortney Hause standing off him, Mahrez beat Nyland at his near post.

Six minutes later, Drinkwater was even more at fault as Aguero burst into the penalty area and was held up by Ahmed Elmohamady, although he eventually managed to cut the ball back.

It fell to Drinkwater, but the midfielder was painfully slow to clear. David Silva intercepted and Mahrez slammed a low shot into the same area where he scored his first goal.

Then Aguero struck as De Bruyne simply turned away from Drinkwater to find his team-mate, who strode on and fired a right-footed shot from 20 yards that Nyland could only push into the net.

It was, in fact, a rare goal from outside the area for Aguero (just his 21st of his 177 total) and at that point, with less than half an hour played, some Villa fans headed for the exits.

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola celebrates after Riyad Mahrez scores their first goal. Photo: Carl Recine/Action Images via Reuters
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola celebrates after Riyad Mahrez scores their first goal. Photo: Carl Recine/Action Images via Reuters

What they missed was De Bruyne again leaving Drinkwater trailing before arcing a wonderful cross in from the right which Gabriel Jesus struck back across Nyland. There were boos from the home fans.

As the second half started, with empty seats around the stadium, Silva picked out Aguero with a precise pass into his feet, allowing the forward to cut back across goal, holding off two challenges before side-footing past Nyland.

A hat-trick of chances were not taken by Jesus before Hause's loose pass was seized on by Mahrez, who quickly found Aguero. Suddenly, he was clear on goal and there was almost a collective intake of breath from the fans who knew what was coming. Aguero took his time before lashing the ball beyond Nyland to complete his hat-trick. As he walked back to the halfway line, there was a little, private clenched-fist celebration.

There were chants of defiance from Villa fans and, with the last kick of the game, Anwar El Ghazi drove home a penalty after substitute Trezeguet was tripped by Ilkay Gundogan. It mattered little. The damage was done and, as so often, Aguero had led the way. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Telegraph.co.uk

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