It felt a routine day at the office for Sergio Aguero. Routine, that is, for one who has normalised goalscoring. The Argentine’s feats as a finisher are so frequent and so many that it can feel impossible to keep track.
He maintained his record of scoring in every game this season, a second consecutive double taking a personal tally to six in four matches.
When he completed a brace against Brighton & Hove Albion, he had scored with seven successive shots on target in the Premier League. That sequence began against the Seagulls as well, and if this win will never rival May’s title-clinching victory in Sussex for importance, it ranked as another example of Manchester City’s ability to eviscerate lesser opponents.
“Sergio scored goals when he was in Argentina at 16 years [old],” said Pep Guardiola. “He will die scoring goals. He is a special talent.”
Aguero added an assist for good measure, teeing up the substitute Bernardo Silva, who scored with his second touch; his first was controlling Aguero’s pass. “My players up front are incredibly good and they make the difference,” said Guardiola.
The problem for City came at the other end of the pitch. While they kept a clean sheet, aided by an excellent Ederson save from Leandro Trossard, they lost Aymeric Laporte.
The Frenchman exited on a stretcher, having hurt himself when hurtling into a foul on Adam Webster. City can wonder when they will see their premier centre-back again. “He has gone to hospital,” Guardiola added. “The doctor is going to call me but I think it will be a while. It doesn’t look good.”
Fernandinho deputised expertly against Brighton, heading away a goal-bound shot from the elusive Trossard and may have to slot into defence more often. “He is a holding midfielder, everyone knows it, but I think he has the conditions to play there,” Guardiola said. “He is intelligent, fast, strong in the headers, in the build-up, he has the quality to see what happens in front.”
This, as the Catalan said, was a day when City’s front players flourished. Brighton have not taken a point against City since 1989 and it was soon apparent their wait would not end. While Graham Potter’s Swansea City rushed into a two-goal lead against City last season, his Brighton trailed still quicker.
City can make opponents go on the defensive. Brighton had begun the season with three at the back. They were still adjusting to the introduction of a fourth defender as they went a goal down in 71 seconds. Oleksandr Zinchenko picked out the advancing David Silva, whose cutback was converted by Kevin de Bruyne. It was incision and precision; the third goal provided further proof of the burgeoning understanding between the left-sided axis of Zinchenko and Silva.
The City captain, whose touch is usually so deft, had been guilty of a glaring miss when found by Raheem Sterling. Aguero ensured it did not matter. When De Bruyne latched on to Riyad Mahrez’s backheel and squared the ball for him, he took two touches and rifled his shot past Mat Ryan.
His second came with similar exactness, Aguero finding the top corner after the left-sided alliance of Zinchenko and David Silva unlocked Brighton again. It was his 98th league goal at the Etihad; at this rate, he could bring up his century in the next home game, against Watford.
A prolific scorer has become more of a provider under Guardiola, which he illustrated by allowing Bernardo Silva to score within 20 seconds of his introduction. The Portuguese had been rested, with Mahrez a fine deputy, but made the most of his cameo.
Brighton’s enterprising approach brought praise from Guardiola. “They played with real courage,” he said. Potter used the same word. He said: “The result is not something we are enjoying but the performance of the players was one of real courage.”