Aguero down but not out, says Pellegrini

LONDON • Manuel Pellegrini gave assurances that Sergio Aguero will face Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) in the Champions League tomorrow, despite the striker going off injured in his Manchester City side's 2-1 win over West Bromwich Albion.

But they will have to do without midfielder Samir Nasri, who underlined his importance to the team by marking his first start in over six months with the winner on Saturday.

The 28-year-old cannot feature in the quarter-final second-leg home clash against PSG after not being included in City's Champions League squad due to his lengthy absence through injury.

"It was something I was really OK with," the Frenchman said of his Champions League exclusion, which allowed striker Kelechi Iheanacho to be added.

"When I had surgery the target was to maybe play one game before the end of the season.

Manchester City's Sergio Aguero, who scored a penalty, kneels injured as referee Mike Jones calls for attention in City's 2-1 win over West Brom.
Manchester City's Sergio Aguero, who scored a penalty, kneels injured as referee Mike Jones calls for attention in City's 2-1 win over West Brom. PHOTO: REUTERS

"We are five weeks ahead of schedule, so I am just happy to be there, playing and to help the team.

"The only thing is it is PSG and I am from Marseille. That is like (Manchester) United against us. But that is just about it. I am going to be with the team and try to help them. It is something historic and you need to think about the big picture, that to be in the last four in Europe is something major."

That tie is poised at 2-2, and City warmed up for the clash with a spirited performance at the Etihad Stadium.

Stephane Sessegnon's early strike gave West Brom the lead but that was cancelled out by Aguero's penalty - his 23rd goal of the season.

Nasri, in just his second start this season, then netted from close range as City moved within two points of third-placed Arsenal, who were held to a 3-3 draw at West Ham.

"This was a very important game because the four teams who are involved with us in those (Champions League) positions in the table play together, West Ham and Arsenal, and tomorrow Tottenham and Manchester United," said Pellegrini.

City's victory did not come without hairy moments.

The visitors could have scored a late equaliser with chances for Saido Berahino and James McClean, while Aguero was caught on the back of the heel by Craig Gardner in the closing stages and had to hobble off.

"Kun (Aguero) had just a kick," Pellegrini revealed.

"It's not a problem for Tuesday."

West Brom manager Tony Pulis, meanwhile, was adamant his side should have had a penalty when Eliaquim Mangala barged midfielder Sandro in the back when the score was 1-1 early in the second half.

"I thought it was a penalty. It does not just affect us as a result, but all the teams around City who are fighting for the Champions League when there are millions at stake.

"They will be disappointed with that decision," he said.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 11, 2016, with the headline 'Aguero down but not out, says Pellegrini'. Print Edition | Subscribe