It is nearly eight years since Sergio Aguero scored the most dramatic goal in Premier League history. Now he has overtaken arguably the division’s greatest player. The milestones keep coming for Manchester City’s record scorer and, by scoring his record 12th Premier League hat-trick, he sped past Thierry Henry to become the most prolific foreigner English football has seen.
Consider the galaxy of talent that has been imported in the past three decades and it is some feat. Aguero scored twice on his debut against Swansea in 2011. He went one better with a treble to reach 177 goals on Sunday in a 6-1 thrashing of Aston Villa.
He has been a byword for clinical brilliance but other arrivals from overseas excelled as Manchester City overwhelmed Aston Villa. Kevin de Bruyne got closer to another of Henry’s records, of 20 assists in a season, by reaching 14. Riyad Mahrez scored twice to pave the way for Aguero’s landmark goal. Gabriel Jesus added a slick fourth and City completed a wonderful week with a famous scoreline for them: 6-1.
Eviscerating Manchester United matters more but a clinical demolition of Villa enabled them to leapfrog Leicester and claim second place. They may not catch Liverpool, but it has been a pair of games to show their pursuit of excellence continues and that their best is enviably good.
They could afford to rest Raheem Sterling and Bernardo Silva but, if Villa were relieved when they saw the teamsheet, such feelings disappeared before half-time.
It was a dreadful day for Dean Smith’s side, who must wonder if they want to reach the Carabao Cup final if it entails a rematch with City. Plunged into the bottom three by Watford’s win over Bournemouth, they performed in a manner to suggest they will stay there.
There were mitigating circumstances, as injury-hit Villa lined up without a specialist striker and with their second-choice goalkeeper after the season-ending injuries to Wesley and Tom Heaton. Orjan Nyland is unlikely to forget his first Premier League start. He conceded six times and the watching Pepe Reina, who is soon to sign, should expect to be busy.
Nyland was culpable, although he was not alone in that. He probably ought to have prevented Aguero’s first goal, when the striker let fly from 25 yards. It was, though, a sign the penalty-box poacher supreme has plenty in his repertoire. He passed Henry in more familiar fashion. He evaded three defenders before firing a shot into the bottom corner of the net. He beat Alan Shearer’s best of 11 hat-tricks with a rifled finish.
Perhaps it was an advertisement of the merits of the striker. Pep Guardiola had begun without any at Old Trafford. Here he fielded two, albeit with Jesus operating off the left.
City showed there are different forms of potency; having gone in at half-time 3-0 up against United, they went one better by leading 4-0 at the break. The recalled Aguero contributed to each of the first three. Jesus scored the fourth, supplying a first-time finish to a typical curling cross from De Bruyne. But for a goal-line clearance from Tyrone Mings, he would have scored twice.
The initial scourge of Villa, however, was Mahrez. His seven-minute double amounted to a disaster for Danny Drinkwater, his former Leicester team-mate who had a dismal Villa debut. Mahrez accepted Aguero’s pass, darted forward, evaded Drinkwater all too easily and rolled a shot inside the near post.
The Algerian’s second was a predatory finish, facilitated by Drinkwater. He cut out Aguero’s cross, only to be caught dawdling on the ball in the box by David Silva. He found Mahrez, who did the rest. He was only the warm-up act. Aguero’s treble took him past Henry and level with Frank Lampard. Only Shearer, Wayne Rooney and Andy Cole are ahead of him now. And, despite Anwar El Ghazi’s injury-time penalty, only Bournemouth and Norwich are below Villa.