Sergio Aguero scored his 12th hat-trick to become the highest overseas goalscorer in Premier League history in rampant Manchester City’s six-goal hammering of struggling Aston Villa.
The Argentine moved level – and then past – Thierry Henry, before joining Frank Lampard on 177 goals in England’s top flight.
Only three men – Alan Shearer, Wayne Rooney and Andy Cole – are still ahead of him on the all-time Premier League list. Aguero’s number of hat-tricks is a Premier League record.
It was part of a merciless City performance as they took apart a Villa side who were suffering their worst defeat since Liverpool beat them at 6-0 at Villa Park in February 2016 and have dropped into the relegation zone.
Riyad Mahrez scored the first two, with Gabriel Jesus splitting Aguero’s double just before half-time.
The result leaves City second, the highest position they have occupied following a full round of matches since the beginning of November, although they remain 14 points behind leaders Liverpool, having played a game more.
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It is scarcely believable now but there were some people who thought City had wasted their money when they spent £40m to buy Aguero from Atletico Madrid in 2011.
He scored twice against Swansea on his debut and it feels like he has not stopped finding the net since.
Aguero’s most famous goal came at the end of that first season, against QPR to win the title, but for City fans his impact goes way beyond that single strike.
The 31-year-old is the club’s record scorer and now needs only one more to reach 250 for the Blues in all competitions.
His first was a ferocious effort, the third a clinical strike after he had been given a clean sight of goal.
But maybe the best indication of the relentlessness with which Aguero goes about his job came from the long conversation he had with Mahrez after the half-time whistle had gone, when he demanded to know why his team-mate had not set him up about five minutes earlier.
City were 4-0 up at the time.
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Sobering return for Drinkwater
It was a sobering return to action for Danny Drinkwater, who joined Villa on loan from Chelsea in midweek after a similar stint with Burnley came to an end.
This was Drinkwater’s fourth appearance since March 2018 and remarkably meant four of the last five games he had played were against City – for three different clubs – all of which have ended in defeat.
Drinkwater started quite well, with a couple of simple touches.
But it wasn’t long before he was showing clear signs of rustiness after being deprived of match action for such an extended period of time.
Drinkwater would have known Mahrez’s strengths – he shared a dressing room with him as Leicester won the title. But he was powerless to stop the Algerian stepping around him, before darting into the area to put the visitors in front.
Six minutes later, Drinkwater unwisely decided to control and assess his options as the ball broke to him off Aguero deep inside his own box.
David Silva afforded no time, biting into the challenge and providing Mahrez with the opportunity to crash home his second.
After that it was an exercise in chasing shadows for the former England man, who needs to find his form quickly if he is to help Villa out of the problems they find themselves in.
Problems mounting for Villa
Watching from the stands, goalkeeping duo Tom Heaton and Pepe Reina were powerless to stop the first-half carnage.
With Heaton on crutches as a legacy of the season-ending knee injury he suffered at Burnley on 1 January, and Reina not registered in time to feature as he is about to complete a loan move from AC Milan, Orjan Nyland was handed his Premier League debut.
It proved to be a torrid afternoon for the 29-year-old Norwegian, who became the first goalkeeper in Premier League history to concede six goals on his first start in the competition.
Nyland was beaten at his near-post for the opener and Aguero’s historic effort seemed to go straight through his hands.
Reina will surely start at Brighton next Saturday, knowing Villa must improve on their record of two top flight clean sheets since 16 September.
Villa now have a worse goal difference than Southampton, and they suffered that 9-0 home defeat by Leicester on 25 October.
A few fans headed for the stairs with their side 3-0 down after half an hour but the majority stayed with their team to the end and cheered loudly when Anwar el Ghazi scored their injury-time consolation from the penalty stop.
But, with a Financial Fair Play issue hanging over them if they return to the Championship after a single season in the top flight, it looks like being a busy couple of weeks for Villa as they try to bolster Dean Smith’s squad.
Man of the match – Sergio Aguero (Manchester City)
‘We gave City too much respect’ – what they said
Aston Villa boss Dean Smith: “It’s tough when you come up against world-class teams.
“There’s a professional pride as a coach and a team, and the third goal summed it up – they had about 20 passes without us laying a glove on them.
“We gave them too much respect.
“Our season is not going to be defined by defeats by Man City and Liverpool. You have to learn from this.
“We have to ask why weren’t we competitive and why we gave them too much respect.”
Goals, goals, goals – the stats
- Since the start of the 2016-17 season, Manchester City have scored 343 Premier League goals – 42 more than any other team.
- This was Pep Guardiola’s 300th top-flight league win as a manager – he has reached that tally in just 390 games with Barcelona, Bayern Munich and City.
- City’s David Silva has assisted 21 Premier League goals for team-mate Sergio Aguero – the only player to assist another more in the competition is Frank Lampard for Didier Drogba (24 goals).
- City’s Riyad Mahrez is the only Premier League player to both score and assist 20 goals since the start of last season in all competitions (21 goals, 23 assists).
- In all competitions, City’s Kevin de Bruyne has assisted 15 goals this season – five more than any other Premier League player.
- Gabriel Jesus has started 76 matches for City in all competitions – he has been directly involved in 71 goals in those matches (54 goals, 17 assists).
Villa need to regroup quickly before their game at Brighton next Saturday (15:00 GMT), while Manchester City host Crystal Palace at the same time.
- 27El Mohamady
- 6Douglas LuizSubstituted forNakambaat 65′minutes
- 4DrinkwaterSubstituted forLansburyat 79′minutes
- 14HourihaneSubstituted forTrézéguetat 71′minutes
- 21El GhaziBooked at 53mins
- 10GrealishBooked at 80mins
- 28L Kalinic
- 25FernandinhoBooked at 50minsSubstituted forOtamendiat 63′minutes
- 17De BruyneSubstituted forFodenat 63′minutes
- 16RodriSubstituted forGündoganat 71′minutes
- 9Gabriel Jesus
- 20Bernardo Silva
- Jonathan Moss
- Shots on Target
Match ends, Aston Villa 1, Manchester City 6.
Second Half ends, Aston Villa 1, Manchester City 6.
Goal! Aston Villa 1, Manchester City 6. Anwar El Ghazi (Aston Villa) converts the penalty with a right footed shot to the bottom left corner.
VAR Decision: Penalty Aston Villa.
Penalty conceded by Ilkay Gündogan (Manchester City) after a foul in the penalty area.
Penalty Aston Villa. Trézéguet draws a foul in the penalty area.
Foul by Gabriel Jesus (Manchester City).
Ezri Konsa Ngoyo (Aston Villa) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Attempt missed. Jack Grealish (Aston Villa) right footed shot from the left side of the box is high and wide to the right.
Attempt missed. Anwar El Ghazi (Aston Villa) header from the centre of the box misses to the left. Assisted by Ahmed El Mohamady with a cross.
Attempt blocked. Anwar El Ghazi (Aston Villa) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Trézéguet with a cross.
Corner, Aston Villa. Conceded by Ilkay Gündogan.
Attempt blocked. Trézéguet (Aston Villa) right footed shot from the right side of the box is blocked. Assisted by Jack Grealish.
Foul by Phil Foden (Manchester City).
Jack Grealish (Aston Villa) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Goal! Aston Villa 0, Manchester City 6. Sergio Agüero (Manchester City) right footed shot from the right side of the box to the top right corner. Assisted by Riyad Mahrez with a through ball.
Jack Grealish (Aston Villa) is shown the yellow card.
Substitution, Aston Villa. Henri Lansbury replaces Daniel Drinkwater.
Attempt missed. Gabriel Jesus (Manchester City) right footed shot from the centre of the box is close, but misses the top right corner following a corner.
Corner, Manchester City. Conceded by Ørjan Nyland.
Attempt saved. Gabriel Jesus (Manchester City) right footed shot from a difficult angle on the right is saved in the bottom right corner. Assisted by Phil Foden.
Hand ball by Marvelous Nakamba (Aston Villa).
Attempt missed. Phil Foden (Manchester City) left footed shot from outside the box misses to the left. Assisted by David Silva.
Substitution, Aston Villa. Trézéguet replaces Conor Hourihane.
Substitution, Manchester City. Ilkay Gündogan replaces Rodrigo.
Attempt saved. João Cancelo (Manchester City) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Rodrigo.
Attempt blocked. Riyad Mahrez (Manchester City) left footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by David Silva.
Substitution, Aston Villa. Marvelous Nakamba replaces Douglas Luiz.
Corner, Manchester City. Conceded by Tyrone Mings.
Attempt blocked. Gabriel Jesus (Manchester City) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked.
Attempt saved. David Silva (Manchester City) left footed shot from a difficult angle on the left is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Sergio Agüero.
Substitution, Manchester City. Phil Foden replaces Kevin De Bruyne.
Substitution, Manchester City. Nicolás Otamendi replaces Fernandinho.
Corner, Manchester City. Conceded by Neil Taylor.
Hand ball by Douglas Luiz (Aston Villa).
Goal! Aston Villa 0, Manchester City 5. Sergio Agüero (Manchester City) right footed shot from the centre of the box to the bottom right corner. Assisted by David Silva.
Attempt saved. Sergio Agüero (Manchester City) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Kevin De Bruyne.
Attempt blocked. Sergio Agüero (Manchester City) right footed shot from very close range is blocked. Assisted by Riyad Mahrez with a cross.
Corner, Manchester City. Conceded by Ezri Konsa Ngoyo.
Anwar El Ghazi (Aston Villa) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.