Brilliant Aguero saves Man City as team-mates falter again
City are still in Europe after Argentine striker seals amazing last-gasp win over Bayern Munich
Man City 3 Bayern Munich 2. Sergio Aguero has been hailed as an "exceptional" player after his hat-trick secured Manchester City's first win of the Champions League campaign, against no lesser team than last year's finalists Bayern Munich.
Not only did he score all three of City's goals, he dragged his side back from the brink of defeat, scoring an equaliser that few people saw coming after 85 minutes and then taking the roof off the Etihad with an injury time winner that brought back memories of his title-winning strike against QPR in 2012.
"There are unbelievable finishes to crucial games and then there are unbelievable Sergio Agüero finishes to crucial games," writes Paul Wilson in The Guardian. "There seemed no way, as the game entered its final minutes, that City could escape with a draw, let alone a first win of a lacklustre European campaign, yet with Aguero there is always hope and when he equalised by virtue of that rarity, a stray pass from Xabi Alonso, the sight of him tucking away the winner two minutes later was no longer the greatest surprise."
Tributes to the Argentine flooded in after City's unexpected triumph, which keeps alive their hopes of qualifying for the knock-out stages of the competition, with manager Manuel Pellegrini hailing him as "one of the best players in the world" and captain Vincent Kompany declaring: "He makes things achievable that otherwise wouldn't be."
However, much of the praise heaped on Aguero for his last-ditch heroics is tempered by criticism of his team-mates, who almost conspired to lose the match against ten men. It was thanks to Aguero that City took the lead after 22 minutes, when Medhi Benatia fouled the Argentine in the box. The defender was shown a red card and the Argentine made no mistake from the spot.
But his team-mates were to blame as Bayern first equalised, when an Alonso free kick rolled into the net past a flat-footed Joe Hart, and then took the lead as Robert Lewandowski pounced to expose City's defensive shortcomings.
"It would be pushing it to ascribe this dramatic victory to collective will, rather than individual brilliance," says Oliver Kay of The Times. "All season long, Sergio Aguero has carried a toiling team on his shoulders. Last night, with indignity looming, the Argentina forward did it once again."
The sentiment is echoed elsewhere. "What misery would befall this team without Sergio Aguero though?" asks Martin Samuel in the Daily Mail. "He has somehow kept this European campaign alive with five goals in as many games. The rest of this expensively assembled squad will not like to hear it, but City are the one-man team of this season. Aguero is every bit as important to them as Luis Suarez was to Liverpool last year or Gareth Bale to Tottenham Hotspur the year before."