Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 31 May 2016

Manuel Pellegrini: Manchester City are not over-reliant on Sergio Aguero

Published 23/01/2016

Sergio Aguero, right, scored twice to rescue a point for Manchester City at West Ham
Sergio Aguero, right, scored twice to rescue a point for Manchester City at West Ham

Manuel Pellegrini maintains Manchester City are not a one-man team despite Sergio Aguero's latest rescue act.

City twice had to come from behind with goals from their Argentinian striker to salvage a 2-2 draw at West Ham on Saturday evening.

Aguero won and converted a penalty to cancel out Enner Valencia's first-minute opener, and dragged his side level again 10 minutes from full-time after Valencia's second.

But City boss Pellegrini insisted: "I don't think our team is just Sergio Aguero. We are fighting for the title and involved in other competitions with a lot of injuries, so it's important to have him 100 per cent fit.

"But we have a squad which is the reason why we are fighting for the title."

City's now notoriously shaky defence failed its first test at Upton Park after just 55 seconds.

Cheikhou Kouyate strode past a non-existent challenge from Yaya Toure and into the area before cutting the ball back for the unmarked Valencia to slam under Joe Hart.

Agureo, who also hit the post, hauled the visitors level after he had been tripped in the area by Carl Jenkinson, coolly sending Adrian the wrong way from the penalty spot.

City were inches from taking the lead in the 55th minute when Fabian Delph's low shot hit the foot of Adrian's post - but moments later West Ham went back in front.

Michail Antonio's quickly-taken throw-in, of all things, caught the City defence napping and Valencia brushed off Nicolas Otamendi's feeble challenge before prodding the ball past Hart.

"Perhaps we were not concentrating," admitted Pellegrini. "When there is a throw-in maybe you are not thinking there is danger, but we know Antonio has a long throw.

"But Joe didn't have to work too much in the second half. We didn't have important problems in defence - just the concentration for the second goal."

Aguero swept City level with 10 minutes left after a powerful run from substitute Kelechi Iheanacho.

Yet West Ham could still have snatched victory had Kouyate's stoppage-time header from Mark Noble's free-kick not clipped the crossbar.

"I'm really proud of the team, and a little disappointed we didn't win," said Hammers manager Slaven Bilic.

"We could have got the third goal even though they were dominating. So when I went back into dressing room I felt disappointed. But that's good. That shows how well we played.

"We were fantastic as a team and as individuals. The individuals were the cherry on top of the pie, and the pie was the team performance."

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