Aguero to City's rescue with hat-trick
MAN CITY 3
(Sergio Aguero 20-pen, 85, 90)
BAYERN MUNICH 2
(Xabi Alonso 40, Roberto Lewandowski 45)
Where will Manchester City be without Sergio Aguero?
Out of the Champions League, that's for sure.
The 26-year-old Argentine striker poached a hat-trick against mighty Bayern Munich yesterday morning (Singapore time) to help his side earn a last-gasp 3-2 victory.
The win pulled the English Premier League champions level on five points with CSKA Moscow and Roma with one more group game to play.
Bayern have 12 points and are already assured of top spot in Group E.
The treble also took Aguero's goal tally to five from five Champions League appearances.
His opening act at the Etihad Stadium began via a 20th-minute penalty, conceded by Bayern's Mehdi Benatia who also got himself sent off for the infringement on the forward.
However, the hosts inexplicably conceded twice before the break, with Bayern's goals coming from Xabi Alonso's free-kick and a Robert Lewandowski header.
But just when it seemed City's chances of progressing to the knock-out stage would be dealt a near-fatal blow, Aguero scored two goals in the final five minutes to secure all three points for the hosts.
Yesterday was hardly the first time he popped up to save his club's skin, and probably his manager Manuel Pellegrini's job too.
As Pellegrini's men blow hot and cold this season, he has been the one constant.
No other player has played a bigger role than Aguero in City's five Champions League points.
Against Roma, in an earlier group fixture, he netted City's solitary goal in a 1-1 draw. He also buried the opening goal in last month's 2-2 draw with CSKA Moscow.
His form extends to the domestic stage, where he leads the Premiership top-scorers' chart with 12 goals.
There have been some crucial ones too. For example, the winner in the 1-0 Manchester Derby victory and the double in City's 2-2 draw against Queens Park Rangers.
Yesterday morning's masterclass was a reminder of just how instrumental Aguero has been to his side.
His goals gave City their first Champions League win of the campaign, and a lifeline.
They will now progress if they can better CSKA Moscow's result against Bayern in their final group outing. An away loss or a goalless draw against Roma will see them crash out.
It's still hard to see this win as a springboard for them to launch a genuine assault on the Champions League crown, but the significance will not be lost on them either.
It provided an excellent foundation for them to regroup, gain confidence and mend wounded pride.
It also bought Pellegrini much-needed time to prove that they are still taking small steps forward.
BY THE NUMBERS
90 Aguero has scored 90 goals in 137 competitive games (excluding the Community Shield) for City.
14 Aguero has also netted 14 times in 22 Champions League matches.
3 Aguero took a total of three shots against Bayern Munich, all of which ended up in the back of the net.
77 Aguero has scored a goal every 77 minutes he has played in the EPL