Belfast Telegraph

Argentine ace Sergio Aguero may have kept boss Pellegrini in a job

By Steven Beacom

For decades in Manchester, football was all about Fergie time. Move over Sir Alex. Only Aguero time counts these days.

The great Scot drilled into his players to never give up and always play to that final whistle.

Aguero clearly lives by that motto too. His injury time goal in 2012 famously won the Premier League title for City and last night another late, late strike with 90 minutes plus on the clock might just have transformed the club's flagging fortunes in Europe.

Ferguson would have admired the awesome Argentine.

Manuel Pellegrini certainly does.

Sergio Aguero's expertly executed hat-trick to beat Bayern Munich kept City's hopes alive in the Champions League and quite possibly kept his manager in a job.

Trailing 2-1 to Bayern, down to 10 men for most of the group game, with five minutes left it looked like another horror show in Europe for the English champions.

The classy Xabi Alonso and Robert Lewandowski took advantage of poor goalkeeping from Joe Hart and shoddy defending to claim a half-time lead for the visitors. And this after Aguero's accurate penalty had followed Medhi Benatia's deserved 20th minute red card for a needless foul on the South American in the box.

In that opening 45 minutes Bayern completed 428 passes to City's 214 - TWICE as many with just TEN men.

Had the score finished 2-1 to Pep Guardiola's side, already in the knockout stages, a dispirited City desperately lacking confidence in the competition would have needed to win 3-0 in Rome next month to have any chance of progressing.

Yeah, about as likely as Gregory Campbell and Gerry Adams passing the cranberry sauce to each other on Christmas Day!

Then super hero Aguero, a bright light in too many bleak City displays this season, flew to the rescue. He was helped by a rare error from Alonso for the leveller on 85 and a Jerome Boateng mistake for the winner on 91, though there was still work to do when he received the ball on each occasion.

As calm, composed and clinical as he had been back on that memorable May day two and a half years ago against QPR, Aguero kept his nerve, not once, but twice to send the home fans inside the Ethiad into ectascy - the first time that has truly happened against one of Europe's elite since City were bankrolled by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed's billions.

City supporters will tell you they have been waiting for their big Champions League moment. Against a mighty outfit like Bayern Munich, albeit playing with 10 men for 70 minutes, this was it.

And surely this is now the time for City to kick on and make themselves a force abroad, as well as at home.

They can go to Roma with self belief having gained such a morale boosting victory and secure the win in the eternal city that they require to reach the last 16.

True, if CSKA beat Bayern in Munich at the same time City will be out regardless of what they do, but that's about as likely as Gregory Campbell and Gerry Adams passing the cranberry sauce.... you get the drift.

It's a straight shoot-out. Just what City wanted and needed, given that in Aguero they have the most dangerous gunslinger around.

Belfast Telegraph


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