Aguero inches City closer to the title

Manchester City's Sergio Aguero running to the away supporters in delight after his 63rd-minute strike gave his team a 1-0 win at Burnley yesterday. Goal-line technology was required before it was awarded and the result puts City top of the table on
Manchester City's Sergio Aguero running to the away supporters in delight after his 63rd-minute strike gave his team a 1-0 win at Burnley yesterday. Goal-line technology was required before it was awarded and the result puts City top of the table on 92 points, one ahead of Liverpool.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

Goal-line technology rules Argentinian's winner crossed the line by 29mm; Pep's men on track for domestic treble

LONDON • Thirty-six games in, the Premier League title race did stray dangerously close to becoming an ordeal for Manchester City.

For over an hour yesterday, it had looked as though they might blink in their staring contest with Liverpool. Something had to give and Pep Guardiola's players certainly toyed with the emotions of their supporters during those passages of play when they lacked their usual sureness of touch.

Except, this is the team whose fans like to sing how they will "fight to the end" and, lest it be forgotten, once won the league with the final kick of the season back in 2012.

City even have a bar at the Etihad called "The 93:20" to commemorate Sergio Aguero's contribution on that occasion - he scored the winner then - and seven years on, the Argentina striker is still delivering vital goals and showing he remains the man for the big occasion.

His 63rd-minute strike at Turf Moor meant he joins Alan Shearer as the only two players in the Premier League era to score 20 times or more in six different seasons.

City have now won 12 consecutive league games, restoring their one-point lead over Liverpool.

  • 20

  • Sergio Aguero is the second player in Premier League history to score more than 20 goals in five straight seasons, after Arsenal's Thierry Henry (2002 to 2006).

If they can extend that sequence to 14 in their last two games by beating Leicester at home and then Brighton away, there will be nothing Jurgen Klopp and his players can do about it.

Aguero's winner against Burnley was not without drama. He had held off James Tarkowski in the box before striking at goal.

Fellow defender Matthew Lowton blocked the ball on the line and, briefly, play carried on.

But there was a reason why referee Paul Tierney felt a buzz on his wristband. It was the goal-line technology letting him know that the momentum of the ball had taken it over the line. Twenty-nine millimetres, to be precise.

Afterwards, Aguero cheekily referenced how "today I was happy about the technology" in contrast to how the Video Assistant Referee had denied them passage to the Champions League semi-finals almost two weeks ago. He added: "I am very happy with the goal because in the first half, we had a lot of chances and now we have a week to prepare for the next games."

For the first time in months, City's elimination from the Champions League means they will crucially have a free midweek to prepare for those key matches.

By contrast, Liverpool must travel to Newcastle next weekend, either side of the two legs of their Champions League semi-final against Barcelona, before hosting Wolves on May 12.

Sean Dyche's side knew before kick-off they were mathematically certain of Premier League survival, yet played as if they, too, were fighting for the title.

Burnley were tough, obdurate opponents and City did not always look like champions-in-waiting, particularly in the first half when there even a few "Ole" chants from the home supporters during their periods of possession.

But, after the break, the visitors subjected their opponents to a period of concerted pressure and ought to have had a penalty when Ashley Barnes jutted out his arm to stop Bernardo Silva's shot.

With only one goal in it, there was always a certain amount of danger for the away team, yet they held on and two more wins will be enough for City to become the first team to retain the title since Manchester United in 2009.

THE GUARDIAN, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 29, 2019, with the headline 'Aguero inches City closer to the title'. Print Edition | Subscribe