It’s nearly seven years since Sergio Aguero hit the goal which brought English football to a standstill, as the blue moon’s ascent peaked and Manchester City, aka ‘the noisy neighbours’, became the Premier League champions for the first time in their history.
A lot has changed since then. City are now ‘the’ team in Manchester, and have arguably the best manager the game has to offer. A multitude of changes have swept through the Etihad, but one constant has been Sergio Aguero; the Argentinian who still stands tall for the Citizens and associated with the club would love to have him standing over them for decades to come – if not in the flesh then cast out of beautiful glistening bronze.
Meanwhile, in 2019, Sunday night football at the Etihad Stadium saw Manchester City demolish Chelsea in a stunning 6-0 victory, with their Argentinian genius the contributor of three classy goals to ensure City’s title charge maintained its swift and sharp pace, as title rivals Liverpool had registered a victory the previous day, had a slip-up occurred against Sarri’s Chelsea, there would likely be minimal further changes for redemption in their bid for the title.
Pep Guardiola deployed a 4-3-3 formation with Bernardo Silva, Aguero and Raheem Sterling forming the front three. Chelsea mirrored Manchester City by setting up in a 4-3-3 formation with Pedro, Gonzalo Higuain and Eden Hazard leading the attack.
Aguero was in great home form having scored a hat-trick against Arsenal in City’s previous fixture at the Etihad, while Chelsea were having problems keeping the opposition in check in their recent away matches having leaked six goals in just their last two away games. An in-form Aguero against a side with away woes was exactly what the home fans wanted to see before they headed off to work the next day.
Aguero’s first significant act was off the ball, in the fourth minute when City won a free kick inside Chelsea’s half. While Kevin De Bruyne stood over the ball and scanned for open passing lanes, Kun started walking towards the Chelsea penalty box, his presence near the area caught Marcos Alonso’s attention, whose assignment at that moment was Bernardo Silva. Alonso was acutely aware of the threat that Aguero carried, causing the Spaniard to close in on him, thus leaving acres of space for the unattended Bernardo Silva. De Bruyne found Bernardo Silva inside the box who played a lovely ball across goal for Sterling who finished sumptuously giving Manchester City a one-nil lead.
Aguero popped into action shortly after, this time inside Chelsea’s penalty area. City were on the move, as Sterling won a hard-fought ball against Azpilicueta on the sideline and played in a lovely pass to De Bruyne inside the penalty area who found Bernardo Silva in front of goal. Bernardo eventually got the ball under control and ran around the Chelsea defence to put in a cross from inside the box. The Chelsea defence got so involved in an attempt to get to Bernardo Silva, they left Aguero completely unattended on the other end. The cross found him with nothing but the goal in sight, but to everyone’s dismay, he miscalculated the angle and tapped into the side-netting.
Now let’s take this scenario. You are Aguero, one of the best strikers in the league, and you have just missed a chance to go two up against a top-six side in a high-pressure match, what would you do next? Well, you would do what any great player would do, out of the blue make something out of nothing.
In the 13th minute, Man City were on the move again, and Aguero received a pass from Fernandinho and played it first time to Zinchenko to his left, who tried to force his way past Azpilicueta but failed. Somehow the ball managed to fall to Aguero’s feet, standing about 25 to 30 yards away from the goal. He cut to his right, created some shooting space, eyed the top right corner and in the blink of an eye fired a shot with the power of a cannon and the precision of a bullet. Result. Manchester City 2 Chelsea 0.
Chelsea started to look for some respite but Man City were having none of it; they did not letting their foot off the gas. They won a free kick inside Chelsea’s half, De Bruyne sent one into the box, but Chelsea defenders were there to clear their lines. The ball though found its way to Zinchenko’s feet who cut inside and floated a cross into the box. David Luiz is first to it and heads clear to Ross Barkley at the edge of the penalty box. What happened next is something you would probably see in most Sunday league matches, Ross Barkley jumped facing goalwards and due to the pressure created by an incoming Aymeric Laporte headed it straight to Aguero in front of the goal, who gleefully placed the shot into the bottom corner.
The goal was more complicated than it was made to look, Aguero had a lot to do, he had to swivel 180 degrees and place the shot across his body using his weaker left foot all while being off balance and having Antonio Rudiger right at his heels.
Aguero nearly completed his hat-trick in extra time as he tried to recreate his diving header goal against Arsenal from last weekend fortunately for Chelsea though he missed it by a whisker and was marginally flagged offside.
He got another chance to equal the Premier League record for hat-tricks when De Bruyne floated a cross into the box, Aguero got ahead of David Luiz and timed his jump to perfection, but alas the ball was headed too high and could only bounce off the crossbar to everyone’s dismay.
Just when it was looking like Aguero had run out of luck and would have to settle for a brace, the footballing gods decide to give him one last chance. Sterling received the ball near Chelsea’s box and made a run inside to set up a cross. Azpilicueta was marking him, and it seemed like the result had got to his head as he made an ill-advised tackle inside the penalty area catching more of Raheem Sterling than the ball, referee Mike Dean has no doubts pointing to the spot. Aguero stepped up to the spot and slotted it into the bottom right corner; the opposite side to where Kepa Arrizabalaga guessed.
That is his 11th hat-trick in 229 games and he is the joint record holder with Premier League great Alan Shearer. His three goals in the match bumped up his tally to 160 goals in the Premier League and also made him Manchester City’s highest scorer ever in the league.
In the 65th minute with the match way past Chelsea’s reach, Aguero walked off the pitch to a standing ovation from a crowd who had been to treated to another Sunday night special. It was a night Aguero won’t forget as he broke one record and equalled another. At 5’8, he isn’t the tallest striker in the league, but he has made sure that his records stand over others.