Sergio Aguero vies with Aston Villa’s Kortney Hause during their English Premier League match on Sunday. AFP
For Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola, Argentine striker Sergio Aguero is a cut above, made of entirely different mettle, the gift that keeps giving.
The Argentine football forward and the son-in-law of former football giant Diego Maradona is one of the best players of his generation.
Sergio Aguero became the Premier League’s top scoring foreign player with a hat-trick as Manchester City thrashed Aston Villa 6-1 to move ahead of Leicester into second in the table.
It may be too late to salvage City’s defence of the Premier League title as they remain 14 points behind runaway leaders Liverpool, who also have a game in hand, but led by Aguero the champions showed they will not give up the chase.
An injury-hit Villa were blown away by three goals in 10 first-half minutes as Riyad Mahrez struck twice before Aguero’s blast into the top corner from long range.
Gabriel Jesus added a fourth before half-time and Aguero added two more in the second half to surpass Thierry Henry as the top scoring overseas player in Premier League history with 177 goals.
City boss Pep Guardiola could afford the luxury of recalling Jesus and Aguero among six changes to the side that also outclassed Manchester United in midweek to put one foot in the final of the League Cup.
Villa could be their opponents at Wembley on March 1 as they held Leicester 1-1 in the first leg of their semi-final on Wednesday, but on this evidence they would be powerless to stop City lifting the trophy for a third straight season.
In stark contrast to the attacking options available to Guardiola, Dean Smith did not have a fit striker to choose from with Wesley ruled out for the remainder of the season, so midfielders Anwar El Ghazi and Jack Grealish were forced to deputise as front men.
Villa have also been hit by injuries at the other end of the field with goalkeeper Tom Heaton also out for the rest of the campaign.
Former Spanish international Pepe Reina was in the stands ahead of his loan move from AC Milan being completed and Orjan Nyland did little to further his case of keeping his place ahead of the ex-Liverpool stopper.
Nyland was beaten at his near post as Mahrez was allowed to cut onto his favoured left foot to open the floodgates on 18 minutes.
The Algerian’s old Leicester teammate Danny Drinkwater was making his Villa debut after troubled spells at Chelsea and Burnley since leaving the Foxes.
Drinkwater was playing against City for the third time in his last three Premier League appearances with three different clubs.
His lack of match practice was exposed for City’s second as Drinkwater was caught in possession inside his own box by Jesus and the ball broke kindly for Mahrez to drill home his ninth goal of the season.
Aguero then thumped home a third, although Nyland could have got a stronger hand to the Argentine’s effort.
All that was missing from a complete City performance was a moment of inspiration from Kevin De Bruyne and the Belgian duly delivered with a wonderful curling cross to set the fourth on a plate for Jesus in first-half stoppage time.
City did not let up after the break and could have made it many more than six as David Silva picked out Aguero to calmly slot home his record-breaking goal.
The Argentine’s 12th Premier League hat-trick arrived eight minutes from time as he demonstrated his array of finishes by this time blasting his past the helpless Nyland.
El Ghazi scored from the penalty spot in stoppage time, but it was little consolation for Villa.
Earlier, Watford climbed out of the relegation zone for the first time this season as their remarkable revival under Nigel Pearson continued with a 3-0 win at Bournemouth.
Abdoulaye Doucoure and Troy Deeney struck either side of the break before Roberto Pereyra added a third in stoppage time to take the Hornets above their hosts, whose five-season stay in the top flight looks in serious danger of coming to an end.
Bournemouth have taken just four points from their last 11 games and looked a side completely devoid of confidence. Watford, by contrast, are reborn under former Leicester boss Pearson as they have taken 13 points from a possible 15 since his baptism of fire in a 2-0 defeat at Liverpool last month.
English Premier League results on Sunday:
Bournemouth 0 Watford 3 (Doucoure 42, Deeney 65, Pereyra 90+2)
Aston Villa 1 (El Ghazi 90+1-pen) Manchester City 6 (Mahrez 18, 24, Aguero 28, 57, 81, Jesus 45+1)
A Raheem-Sterling-inspired Manchester City routed Aston Villa 3-0 to close gap on leaders Liverpool in the Premier League on Saturday. Sterling, Kevin De Bruyne and Ilkay Gundogan were on the target as Villa were mauled by a rampant City
Manchester City won a 20th consecutive domestic cup tie to move into the quarter-finals of the FA Cup with a 1-0 win at Sheffield Wednesday as Tottenham crashed out on penalties to Norwich on Wednesday.
Manchester City and Liverpool have slugged it out in one of the most gripping Premier League title races of all time, going toe to toe in a monumental battle for the ages. But it will all be decided on Sunday when City travel to Brighton and Liverpool host Wolves, with Pep Guardiola’s team firm favourites to get over the line ahead of Jurgen Klopp’s charging team.
Manchester City have not yet held their victory parade after edging Liverpool in a thrilling Premier League title race but already they are plotting for next season. The champions are not alone. A huge summer splurge on transfer fees is likely after Premier League spending fell last year,
“To all my friends in Dubai and the UAE, this is a really difficult moment and we need to take care of us and others as well,” said Figo.
“It was a great relief to see him deliver last start after the trouble he’d encountered at his previous two,” said trainer James Cummings.
The Premier League has been postponed until at least April 30 because of the pandemic and it is feared the season will be delayed again when English football’s stakeholders meet to discuss the crisis on Friday.