Football

Guardiola praises 'unstoppable' Aguero

Man City striker back to his best with a brace and an assist against Huddersfield

Pep Guardiola lavished praise on Sergio Aguero and defended Claudio Bravo after Manchester City came from behind to thrash Huddersfield Town in the FA Cup yesterday morning (Singapore time).

Top scorer Aguero struck twice, set up another and hit the woodwork as City powered into the quarter-finals with a 5-1 victory over the Championship side at the Etihad Stadium.

Aguero also scored two against Monaco in the Champions League last-16, first-leg 5-3 win last week, and his latest brace took his tally for the season to 22, and underlined his return to form after recently losing his place to the injured Gabriel Jesus.

"It is the best performance I have ever seen from Sergio in many things," said Guardiola, who has repeatedly played down speculation Aguero could leave the club in the summer.

"When he plays in that level, Sergio is unstoppable. We are so happy with the way he played.

"I'm pretty sure he's going to help us keep going until the end of the season."

Aguero reiterated his desire to make Guardiola happy with his performances on the pitch.

"I am very happy for the result and the two goals, but especially for getting through to the next round," the Argentinian told BBC Sport.

"I always try to do my best and do what the manager wants me to do. I want to make my manager happy with my performances."

Guardiola also had to defend much-maligned goalkeeper Claudio Bravo who, on his return to the team after sitting out five of the previous six games, was at fault for the Terriers' surprise early opener.

The 33-year-old Chilean allowed a seventh-minute shot from former City youngster Harry Bunn to slip under his body in an awkward moment, which also turned up the heat on Guardiola, the manager who has repeatedly backed him.

To compound his woes, Bravo was later taunted by his own fans with a sarcastic round of applause after making a save.

Guardiola needed his team to respond to take the pressure off and they did so in style with three goals before the interval.

Leroy Sane equalised before Aguero struck from the penalty spot and teed up the third for Pablo Zabaleta.

Aguero and substitute Kelechi Iheanacho completed the job late on.

CONTROVERSIAL SIGNING

Bravo has struggled to make an impact since controversially replacing Joe Hart earlier in the season, and has recently been dropped in favour of Willy Caballero.

Guardiola insisted that the £15.4-million (S$26.8m) goalkeeper's performance was up to standard.

"The performance from Claudio was amazing. I just congratulated him on how he played," said the City boss.

Guardiola also claimed that Bravo would not be affected by the reaction of the crowd towards him.

He said: "He is strong enough. This year he was nominated as one of the five best goalkeepers in the world.

"What the fans express - I am not here to judge them."

Middlesbrough lie in wait for Man City in the quarter-finals of the FA Cup, with that fixture scheduled to take place on March 11. - WIRE SERVICES

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