Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero has undergone surgery on his left knee in Barcelona.

Aguero sustained an injury, reported to be damage to his meniscus, during Monday's 5-0 Premier League win over Burnley.

Pep Guardiola told reporters on Wednesday that his top scorer would be operated on this Thursday by his preferred surgeon Dr Ramon Cugat, who has treated City players including Benjamin Mendy, Ilkay Gundogan and Kevin De Bruyne during the Catalan's time in Manchester.

However, shortly after his boss' news conference to preview the forthcoming match at Chelsea, Aguero tweeted a picture of himself from his hospital bed, suggesting the procedure had already been carried out.

"Everything went well and I'll soon begin recovery," he wrote.

"A big thanks to Dr Cugat and his team – and to all of you for your support."

Recovery from meniscus surgery generally ranges from four to six weeks, meaning Aguero could return for the concluding stages of this season's Champions League.

City hold a 2-1 advantage over Real Madrid ahead of the second leg of their last-16 tie, which will take place on August 7 or 8.

Should Guardiola's men progress, they will take part in an eight-team mini-tournament in Lisbon, between August 12 and 23, comprised of one-off quarter-final, semi-final and final matches.

Aguero has scored 16 goals from 24 Premier League appearances this season, just 18 of which were starts. He averages a goal every 91 minutes.

If the injury rules him out of City's final eight top-flight matches, his streak of scoring at least 20 times in the league for the last five seasons will come to an end.

Sergio Aguero is to undergo knee surgery on Thursday, Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has confirmed.

City had said on Tuesday that Aguero would travel to Barcelona for an assessment on his damaged left knee.

The Argentina striker was in discomfort after winning a first-half penalty in Monday's 5-0 Premier League victory over Burnley and the injury appeared to be aggravated in a challenge with Clarets skipper Ben Mee.

Following the game, City boss Pep Guardiola admitted it did not "look good" for Aguero, who was struggling with the injury in training prior to the top-flight's resumption.

He will now go under the knife, although he has not definitively been ruled out of the conclusion to the Champions League campaign, which will take place in August.

Sergio Aguero is to travel to Barcelona for an assessment on his damaged left knee, Manchester City have confirmed.

The Argentina striker was in discomfort after winning a first-half penalty in Monday's 5-0 victory over Burnley and the injury appeared to be aggravated in a challenge with Clarets skipper Ben Mee.

Following the game, City boss Pep Guardiola admitted it did not "look good" for Aguero, who was struggling with the injury in training prior to the Premier League's resumption.

Original reports suggested Aguero had damaged his left meniscus and would require surgery.

City stopped short of confirming the 32-year-old will go under the knife, but it remains a distinct possibility.

"@aguerosergiokun suffered damage to his left knee in our recent 5-0 win over Burnley," City posted on Twitter.

"The striker will now travel to Barcelona to see Dr Ramon Cugat for further examination.

"Everyone at City wishes Sergio the best with his recovery."

It remains to be seen if CIty's top scorer will have any further involvement in the side's Premier League and FA Cup campaigns.

City also face a nervy wait to see if their talismanic striker will be available for the resumption of the Champions League in August.

Guardiola's men still have to complete their last-16 tie against Real Madrid, which they lead 2-1 from the first leg.

Should they progress, City will compete in an eight-team straight-knockout tournament in Lisbon to determine this season's Champions League victors.

Sergio Aguero is to travel to Barcelona for an assessment on his damaged left knee, Manchester City have confirmed.

The one-year postponement of the Copa America gives Argentina time they must use wisely to avoid squandering probably the most precious asset ever granted to any international team in football history.

A yawning gap remains in Lionel Messi's glittering collection of honours. At club level, the Barcelona superstar has won it all, won it again and won it some more just for good measure. For Argentina, he is yet to lift a major honour.

A sixth Ballon d'Or and a host of typically imperious performances this season show Messi is going nowhere just yet, but he turns 33 this month. His own 'Last Dance' is nearing.

Realistically, the rearranged 2021 Copa America that they will co-host with Colombia and the 2022 World Cup in Qatar represent his final shots at glory for La Albiceleste, with the nagging sense his best chance to emulate the likes of Pele and Diego Maradona with a defining triumph at the highest level might already have passed him by.

 

THE GOLDEN GENERATION

Over recent years, Messi has frequently appeared wearied as a man carrying the weight of his team on his shoulders for club and country.

Of course, this was not always the case. At Barcelona he was the shimmering jewel in Pep Guardiola's slick and sublime masterpiece before starring as part of Luis Enrique's turbo-charged MSN forward line.

Argentina's more forlorn efforts of late make it easy to forget what a defining generation of talent Messi once spearheaded.

Any heavyweight football nation collecting back-to-back Olympic gold medals, as Argentina did in 2004 and 2008, would reasonably expect the senior honours to follow – with or without arguably the greatest of all time at their disposal.

Names from those podiums in Athens and Beijing trip off the tongue. Javier Mascherano, Carlos Tevez, Javier Saviola, Pablo Zabaleta, Fernando Gago, Ever Banega, Ezequiel Lavezzi, Angel Di Maria and Sergio Aguero are all Olympic champions.

At the 2010 World Cup, the fairytale combination of Messi and the Messiah – Maradona inimitably entertaining but evidently ill-cast as head coach – fell to Germany in the quarter-finals.

Die Mannschaft also beat them in 2014 – this time as Mario Gotze scored the only goal in the final during extra time. Alejandro Sabella's steadying hand brought them to the brink of sporting immortality and Messi was named player of the tournament, despite some underwhelming showings by his own standards.

NEAR MISSES, RETIREMENT AND SHAMBLES

Gerardo Martino managed not to win a major trophy when he led Barcelona in 2013-14 and, unfortunately for Messi, history repeated during his tenure with the national team.

Gonzalo Higuain missed a glorious chance in the World Cup final and he and Banega erred from the spot as Chile won the 2015 Copa America in a penalty shoot-out.

Against the same opponents at the Copa America Centenario 12 months later, Messi himself failed amid further heartache from 12 yards.

As emotions ran high in the aftermath, the number 10 announced his retirement from international football, with rumours other stars would follow suit due to disaffection with the Argentine Football Association.

By the time Messi returned for a 3-0 World Cup qualifying defeat to Brazil that November, Edgardo Bauza's tenure as head coach was already on the rocks.

Jorge Sampaoli replaced him and Argentina needed an utterly majestic hat-trick from their talisman away to Ecuador to snatch a place at Russia 2018.

Perhaps they shouldn't have bothered.

Having brought Argentina to their knees while in charge of Chile, Sampaoli inadvertently did the same again during a shambling turn ended by eventual champions France in the last 16. There was a near revolt after a group-stage thrashing from Croatia and the coach left with his reputation in tatters.

LIONEL, LIONEL AND LAUTARO

Star names such as Martino and Sampaoli not working out probably help the cause of the unheralded Lionel Scaloni, who emerged from the rubble of Russia to take temporary and then full charge.

The 2019 Copa America got off to a similarly inauspicious start, but they scrambled out of the group and were arguably a little unlucky to lose 2-0 to hosts and eventual winners Brazil in the semis.

A feisty third-place match against Chile was won 2-1 thanks to goals form Aguero and Paulo Dybala, despite Messi bizarrely getting sent for being repeatedly butted by Gary Medel.

An indignant post-match interview brought a four-game ban, although a more vocal Messi leading through words as well as deeds is a pleasing development. In his absence, 4-0 and 6-1 wins over Mexico and Ecuador suggested brighter times ahead with a younger core – even if a diet of friendlies this season makes progress a little hard to judge.

At centre-forward, where Argentina's surplus of riches makes their lack of reward so embarrassing, Lautaro Martinez looks to have established himself as the new number one ahead of Messi's great friend Aguero.

Since Scaloni took charge, the Inter star has nine goals in 13 starts – averaging one every 109.6 minutes and outstripping his expected goals (xG) figure of 6.4. Messi has five goals at 160.4 per minute from an xG of 6.3 over the same period.

European club form coming back home to the national team has not always been a given during the Messi years, so it is encouraging to see Martinez scoring at a faster rate under Scaloni than he has during an acclaimed campaign at San Siro (11 Serie A goals at one every 152 minutes). Aguero's 16 Manchester City goals have arrived every 87.6 Premier League minutes in 2019-20, but his strikes come every 201.7 minutes in the Scaloni era.

THE NEW GENERATION

Aguero still looks highly likely to have some role to play in trying to right a journey of heartache he has charted alongside Messi in blue and white. Others have not been spared as Scaloni quietly shapes a team in his own image. Moulding the ramshackle embarrassment of two years into a compact and hard-working unit necessitated high-profile casualties

Angel Di Maria has not added to his 102 caps since being dropped to the bench during the Copa. Argentina's all-action midfield creator is now Rodrigo de Paul.

One of Scaloni's dependable in a new-look engine room alongside Di Maria's Paris Saint-Germain colleague Leandro Paredes, De Paul's 81 dribbles completed for Udinese were the second most in Serie A last season and his eight assists put him joint fifth alongside Cristiano Ronaldo.

Staying in Serie A, German Pezzella's 60 interceptions, 155 clearances, 96 headed clearances and 30 blocks all see the Fiorentina man rank highly. A late bloomer on the international stage, the 28-year-old was named captain against Ecuador – alongside Ajax's left-back dynamo Nicolas Tagliafico – and he might have just enough about him to offset Nicolas Otamendi's frequent reversions to slapstick.

Scaloni still looks light on quality and cover behind an all-star attack, where Lucas Ocampos and Angel Correa are also thrillingly part of the equation. This is where the 12-month delay could really come in handy.

Paredes, De Paul and Pezzella will all be better with another year of their primes under their belts, while Giovani Lo Celso's development under Jose Mourinho at Tottenham will be watched with interest.

Leonardo Balerdi and Exequiel Palacios are each 21 and early in their Bundesliga careers at Borussia Dortmund and Bayer Leverkusen – two clubs with exceptional records when it comes to developing young talents.

If this more unheralded generation continue to grow in stature, Scaloni might just have a team to let Argentina dream again. After all, their captain isn't bad either.

Lionel Scaloni said playing alongside countryman Lionel Messi is better for Inter star Lautaro Martinez amid growing links to Barcelona.

Martinez has been tipped to swap Serie A side Inter for LaLiga champions Barca in the off-season following his exploits in Italy.

The Argentina international forward scored 16 goals in 31 matches across all competitions before the 2019-20 season was halted due to the coronavirus pandemic.

As speculation grows over Martinez's future, Argentina head coach Scaloni discussed the 22-year-old.

"If he plays with Messi he is better, no doubt. Beyond that later he will have to fight for the position as he did in Inter," Scaloni told TyC Sports.

"We have to be calm. If he changes clubs, maybe he does not have to be the undisputed starter, and it will not affect us, as long as he has a number of minutes that allows him to be in force.

"He has a huge future but still has a lot to give."

With Martinez dominating headlines, Scaloni issued a reminder about Sergio Aguero's exploits for Argentina and Manchester City.

Aguero is City's all-time top scorer as he celebrated his 32nd birthday on Tuesday, while he is third on Argentina's overall goals list with 41.

"Talking so much about Lautaro, it is Sergio who is breaking all the records," added Scaloni. "That is why you have to go calmly and wait for the moment of each one."

Sergio Aguero might struggle for somewhere to put his birthday cards, given his living room cabinets are liberally decorated with hat-trick balls and man-of-the-match trophies.

But if the social media window into the home life of Manchester City's all-time leading scorer has shown he is unlikely to be celebrated for his approach to interior design any time soon, fans can relish one of the modern game's elite goal-getters soon returning to action.

Aguero brought up a double landmark at the end of January – completing a record 12th Premier League hat-trick with his 250th City goal in a 6-1 demolition of Aston Villa.

Eric Brook's previous best mark of 177 was overhauled in a Champions League win at Napoli in 2017 and, as he turns 32, Aguero has considerable daylight between himself and the rest in the club record books.

Alan Shearer, whose hat-trick mark he surpassed, is still the division's leading scorer by some distance with 260, although Wayne Rooney (208) in second and third-placed Andy Cole (187) are vulnerable to Aguero, who is fourth on 180.

Going back to when he first moved to Atletico Madrid from Independiente as a teenager, Aguero has 254 league goals in 376 starts across LaLiga and the Premier League.

Since joining City in 2011-12, his top-flight haul places him seventh among all players in Europe's top five leagues.

Naturally, Lionel Messi (319) and Cristiano Ronaldo (287) are way ahead over that period, but how does Aguero compare to the best of the rest?

Using Opta data, we compared Messi's Argentina colleague with a group of his contemporaries who might also lay claim to being the finest out-and-out number nines of their era.

Record in Europe's top five leagues since 2011-12

GOALS

Sergio Aguero (Manchester City) - 180
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Saint-Etienne, Borussia Dortmund, Arsenal) - 182
Karim Benzema (Real Madrid) -139
Edinson Cavani (Napoli, Paris Saint-Germain) - 190
Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Milan, PSG, Manchester United) - 161
Harry Kane (Tottenham) - 136
Robert Lewandowski (Dortmund, Bayern Munich) - 223
Luis Suarez (Liverpool Barcelona) – 207

Like Aguero, a striker to have thrived despite the particular demands Pep Guardiola places upon his centre forward is Bayern star Robert Lewandowski. He is out in front within this elite group and showing no signs of slowing down. Luis Suarez is the only other man through the 200 barrier during the period in question, which Messi and Ronaldo handily obliterated.

MINUTES PER GOAL

Aguero – 106.9
Aubameyang – 130.8
Benzema – 146.5
Cavani – 110.4
Ibrahimovic – 101.3
Kane – 120.6
Lewandowski – 106.4
Suarez - 114.4

While he is outscored by an esteemed handful of his counterparts, few can match Aguero when it comes to efficiency. His 106.9 goals per minute is another all-time Premier League best (for players with a minimum of 20 goals) and is almost identical to Lewandowski's figure. Zlatan Ibrahimovic sits atop this metric – as the man himself would no doubt expect – thanks largely to a brutally prolific four-year spell at PSG.

SHOT CONVERSION PERCENTAGE

Aguero – 18.2
Aubameyang – 20.1
Benzema – 18.2
Cavani – 21.1
Ibrahimovic – 18.7
Kane – 18
Lewandowski – 19.8
Suarez – 18.6

There is little to choose between them here, although Aguero ranking second-bottom is a little surprising given his superb goals-per-minute record. Within the group, only Harry Kane scores with a lower percentage of his shots. Edinson Cavani, who has dutifully performed in the shadow of other star turns in Paris, is the most lethal.

ASSISTS

Aguero – 46
Aubameyang – 46
Benzema – 71
Cavani – 31
Ibrahimovic – 50
Kane – 20
Lewandowski – 43
Suarez – 88

Aguero's involvement in City's all-round game has unquestionably improved under Guardiola and he is closing in on a half-century of assists – matching Aubameyang's number in 31 fewer appearances.

Playing alongside Messi and Ronaldo looks a good way to feather your stats in this regard, with only CR7's old Madrid foil Karim Benzema coming close to Suarez, the S in the MSN forward line that delighted under Luis Enrique. Ibrahimovic might not be noted for his selflessness as Suarez and Benzema are, but he again ranks impressively, while Lewandowski's all-round game is to the fore once more.

The 2019-20 Premier League campaign has at last been given a date from which to resume.

The competition, suspended in March due to the coronavirus pandemic, will return from June 17 and, all being well, be played to its conclusion.

The disruption came with Liverpool just two wins away from a first league title in 30 years, while Manchester United had been improving in pursuit of Champions League qualification.

With the help of Opta, we take a look at the most interesting facts relating to England's 'Big Six' and their campaigns so far.


LIVERPOOL

- Jurgen Klopp's side are top of the pile but do not look as defensively solid as they did in the 2018-19 season. Liverpool have conceded 21 times in the league this term, just one goal fewer than in their entire previous 38-game campaign.

- Roberto Firmino finally ended a long wait for an Anfield goal against Atletico Madrid in March. It was his first home Liverpool strike in 20 games in all competitions since netting against Porto in April 2019, 337 days earlier.

- The Reds were just starting to wobble slightly. With the defeat at home to Atletico, Liverpool had lost four of their past six matches in all competitions – as many defeats as in their previous 67 games.


MANCHESTER CITY

- Manchester City have lost seven Premier League games this season, one more than in their previous two campaigns combined.

- Heading into the break, Sergio Aguero had scored 180 Premier League goals for Manchester City. Only Wayne Rooney – 183 for United – has scored more for a single team in the competition's history, with Aguero passing Thierry Henry – 175 for Arsenal – earlier this term.

- Kevin De Bruyne is the first player to register 15 or more assists in three different Premier League seasons. Only Cesc Fabregas had previously done so in more than one campaign.


CHELSEA

- Chelsea have lost five Premier League home games already this season. Only in 1994-95 – seven times – have they been beaten more often at Stamford Bridge.

- The Blues are also winless away from home in the league in 2020, drawing three and losing one of their four matches. They last endured a longer such run in the 2015-16 season, failing to taste victory over seven straight away trips.

- Frank Lampard has been reliant on homegrown talent this season. Only Leicester City (31) and Southampton (24) have more goals from English players than Chelsea's 21 – level with United.


MANCHESTER UNITED

- United are unbeaten in 11 in all competitions, but their points return of 45 is still their lowest through 29 games of a Premier League season.

- Bruno Fernandes inspired their change in fortunes, though, and he has been involved in more Premier League goals (five – two goals, three assists) since his February 1 debut than any other player.

- At 25 years and 86 days old, United have the youngest average starting XI in the Premier League this season.


TOTTENHAM

- No side have kept fewer clean sheets in the Premier League than Tottenham's four this season. The last time they kept so few in the first 29 matches of a campaign was in 2006-07 (also four).

- Spurs had been missing Harry Kane (131.18 minutes per goal), Son Heung-min (152.31 mins per goal) and January signing Steven Bergwijn (280.5 mins per goal) through injury. Dele Alli has the best minutes per goal ratio – 298 – among the rest of the squad in all competitions this season. Perhaps the break may have done them some good...


ARSENAL

- Arsenal have drawn 13 Premier League games this season – already their highest such tally since 17 in 1993-94.

- Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's 17 goals have been worth 16 points to Arsenal this season. Only Sadio Mane's 14 goals have been worth more (18 points) to a single club.

Marc-Andre ter Stegen's future has dominated headlines.

The Barcelona goalkeeper has been linked with a move away from Camp Nou, where his current contract expires at the end of 2021-22.

But the Germany international appears on the verge of extending his stay at Barcelona.

 

TOP STORY – TER STEGEN POISED FOR BARCA RENEWAL

Marc-Andre ter Stegen will sign a long-term contract with Barcelona, according to Friday's front page of Diario Sport.

Ter Stegen and Barca have been deadlocked over talks regarding a new deal, prompting speculation about the Germany international's future.

The Barca goalkeeper had been linked to Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich before Manuel Neuer extended his contract in Bavaria.

ROUND-UP

Real Madrid and Inter have enquired about Manchester City forward Sergio Aguero, says Gazzetta dello Sport journalist Nicolo Schira. Dismissing talks between Napoli and Aguero, Schira claims City do not want to sell the Argentina international.

- Sport Mediaset reports Edinson Cavani has set his personal terms to Inter. The Paris Saint-Germain veteran is out of contract at the end of the season and has been linked with Atletico Madrid. However, the Uruguayan has reportedly told Atletico his agreed personal terms with the Spanish club are no longer valid as Inter eye the forward.

Barca are very optimistic regarding deals for Inter forward Lautaro Martinez and Juventus midfielder Miralem Pjanic, says Marca.

- According to Le10Sport, Juve have started negotiations with Mino Raiola to bring Manchester United star Paul Pogba back to Turin.

- As Roma look to make Henrikh Mkhitaryan's deal permanent, Calciomercato says Arsenal are interested in signing Justin Kluivert. Mkhitaryan has spent the 2019-20 season on loan in the Italian capital.

- Madrid forward Luka Jovic is Milan's first choice as a striker for next season, reports Schira. The Rossoneri are working on a two-year loan deal with the option to buy, however, Jovic's salary is proving problematic amid talks.

Milan's pursuit of Jovic comes as the club close in on Ralf Rangnick. According to Calciomercato, Rangnick is set to become head coach, though the German could vacate his position in season two for either RB Leipzig boss Julian Nagelsmann or Borussia Monchengladbach's Marco Rose.

- According to Mundo Deportivo, City, Juve and PSG are battling for Barca full-back Nelson Semedo. The Portugal international has also been linked to Bayern and Inter.

In all probability, Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool would have been emerging through a Newcastle United guard of honour on Sunday.

The conclusion of a stunning Premier League campaign was scheduled to see the Reds run out at St James' Park in the final round of fixtures.

However, the continued pause brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic means Liverpool's coronation remains on ice.

In the meantime, remember some incredible instances of dramatic final days from previous top-flight seasons.

 

2012 – AGUEROOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!

"I swear you'll never see anything like this ever again – so watch it, drink it in!" hollered hoarse Sky Sports commentator Martin Tyler. It was hard to argue. As their game against relegation-threatened Queens Park Rangers ticked into stoppage time, Manchester City were 2-1 down and throwing it all away. Edin Dzeko nodded in David Silva's corner to equalise but Roberto Mancini's men still needed to match Manchester United's result to claim a first title for 44 years on goal difference.

United's game at Sunderland had finished, with the Reds poised to celebrate on the field at the moment Mario Balotelli lost his footing but found a return pass for Sergio Aguero to blast beyond Paddy Kenny. Cue complete and utter bedlam.

2007 – TEVEZ HAULS HAMMERS TO SAFETY

Carlos Tevez's most notable contribution to that unforgettable final day drama in Manchester was a somewhat theatrical tumble to get Joey Barton sent off. He'd been substituted before the late goals, but over at Old Trafford five years earlier the Argentinian forward was undoubtedly the main attraction.

A long wait for Tevez's first goal in West Ham colours ended with a spectacular free-kick against Tottenham in March. However, defeat in that London derby left them 10 points adrift of safety. An astonishing turnaround followed, with Tevez to the fore as Alan Curbishley's men won seven of their final nine matches, culminating in their star man coolly clipping a dropping high ball past Edwin van der Sar on the half-volley for a 1-0 win over Manchester United. The champions would sign Tevez that close season.

2000- BANTAMS CONDEMN DONS TO THE DROP

Bradford City and Wimbledon were level on points heading into the final day of 1999-2000, with the Dons boasting a superior goal difference and having the theoretically easier assignment against Southampton.

But Paul Jewell's Bantams ripped up the script and defeated Liverpool 1-0, with experienced centre-back David Wetherall planting in a 12th-minute header to send Valley Parade into raptures. Nerves were shredded thereafter, but Bradford held on.

1995 – PREMIER LEAGUE TITLE LIFTED AT ANFIELD

Blackburn Rovers were wobbling heading into the finale of the 1994-95 campaign, having won only two of their past five to leave reigning champions Manchester United – five wins from seven games unbeaten – breathing down their necks. Alan Shearer rifled the visitors into a 20th-minute lead at Anfield, which was gripped by a surreal atmosphere throughout as their favourite son Kenny Dalglish sought to deny bitter rivals United the title.

Things looked good for Rovers at the interval as United, two points behind them, trailed 1-0 at West Ham to a Michael Hughes goal. But John Barnes levelled after the hour and Jamie Redknapp drew gasps from the home faithful with a 90th-minute winner. Luckily for Blackburn, United had run into a masterclass from Hammers goalkeeper Ludek Miklosko either side of Brian McClair's equaliser and they were champions by a point.

1993 – LATICS SNATCH SURVIVAL IN THRILLER

Arguably the most implausible escape from Premier League relegation came in the first season after England's top flight rebranded. Joe Royle's Oldham Athletic were eight points from safety heading into the final week and needed to win each of their remaining three matches while hoping results elsewhere went for them. A 1-0 win at Aston Villa had the added impact of confirming Manchester United as champions, before Liverpool were defeated 3-2 in midweek at Boundary Park.

Oldham's resurgence meant Crystal Palace were hauled into unlikely trouble. The Eagles were unable to rouse themselves, losing 3-0 at Arsenal as Latics served up a high-octane classic at home to Southampton. They overcame the inconvenience of a Matt Le Tissier hat-trick to triumph 4-3, with right-back Gunner Halle scoring one and making two more in an inspired showing. Their goal difference of minus 11 set against minus 13 kept Oldham up at Palace's expense.

A little over two minutes before the moment that will forever define his career, Manchester City hero Sergio Aguero showed sharpness in the Queens Park Rangers goalmouth that would not have been out of place at Old Trafford.

Old Trafford cricket ground that is, just down the road from City's bitter rivals and their home of the same name.

As Edin Dzeko's equaliser from David Silva's right-wing corner bounced back off the netting, Aguero pounced, snaffling it like a quicksilver short-leg fielder and darting back to the centre circle for City's final tilt at the improbable.

There was certainly nothing wrong with the striker's movement after Joey Barton brazenly tried to dead leg him – one of many surreal and key incidents that fed into a frenzied and famous race against the clock on May 13, 2012.

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The whole story is now as well worn as any in football history.

On the cusp of a first top-flight title for 44 years, Robert Mancini's Manchester City faced relegation-threatened QPR on the final day of the season. In their previous 18 Premier League home matches that season, they had won 17 and drawn the other – the most recent of those a 1-0 win over United that tipped a titanic Mancunian tussle back towards the blue side of town.

City simply needed to match United's result at Sunderland and led 1-0 at the interval thanks to Pablo Zabaleta, only for second-half goals from Djibril Cisse and Jamie Mackie to turn the contest on its head.

It remained 2-1 heading into stoppage time despite QPR operating with 10 men. City youth product Barton was dismissed for tussling with Carlos Tevez and responded to Mike Dean's red card by thumping his knee into Aguero's thigh before aiming a headbutt at Vincent Kompany. Fireworks enthusiast Mario Balotelli poured some petrol on this particular bonfire by confronting the combustible Scouser as he stomped towards the tunnel.

Aside from that significant blemish, QPR's discipline was otherwise impeccable. Despite ceding 81.3 possession overall and 84.1 per cent during the second half, they only made seven fouls. Stoppages were infrequent as City thrashed and flailed with increasing desperation and diminishing artistry around the opposition penalty area.

Without Barton's meltdown, there is little chance five minutes of stoppage time - or the three minutes and 20 seconds they ultimately required - would have been signalled. It was time City desperately needed and time they could put to good use with their top scorer's fast-twitch fibres bristling.

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Barton was not the only QPR man with City connections. His team-mates Shaun Wright-Phillips and Nedum Onuoha had also graduated through Jim Cassell's Platt Lane youth system, while Rangers boss Mark Hughes was Mancini's immediate predecessor, having been axed shortly before Christmas in 2009.

Hughes, of course, also played for United with distinction across two spells, and those loyalties struck a chord as news came through Bolton Wanderers had failed to beat Stoke City, meaning the Londoners were safe irrespective of the outcome at the Etihad Stadium.

"[City] got back on level terms and I always remember, at that point, I knew we were safe because the other result came in," he told the Coaches Voice earlier this year.

"I'm thinking, 'I wouldn't mind United winning, if I'm honest'. It's 2-2 and Jay Bothroyd looked over, asking what we wanted them to do [from the restart]. The players understood the [Bolton] game was over and we'd stayed up. We just said kick it as far as you can, right in the corner and the game's over."

Hughes' recollections from that point credit City with a poise they absolutely lacked. Rarely can a team have scored twice in this space of two minutes and – save for a crucial few seconds – played so shambolically.

Bothroyd's hoof found touch and scampering Joe Hart ran out of his goal to take the throw-in. The England goalkeeper almost missed the pitch.

Gael Clichy carried the ball down the flank, only for his attempted cross to turn into a block tackle with Mackie. Samir Nasri's aimless, floated effort that followed did little more than give Clint Hill a ninth successful clearance of the afternoon.

Nasri then excelled himself by shepherding the ball out for a QPR throw-in. Just 40 seconds before that explosion of ecstasy there was fury and anguish in the stands. Aguero watched it all from roughly the QPR penalty spot. Apparently he'd seen quite enough.

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Now 31 and City's all-time top scorer, Aguero honed his lethal skills playing against bigger boys in Buenos Aires on the neighbourhood potrero – the hard gravel and mud neighbourhood pitches that football purists in Argentina bemoan are a diminishing presence.

"When you play you have to think fast. Who to take on, who not," Aguero said when recalling those days in a 2018 documentary for City's in-house television channel. "You know who is going to play dirty, who isn't.

"You start to realise what you can do on the pitch and what you can't."

Reflecting further in the 2019 book 'Pep's City' by Pol Ballus and Lu Martin, he further explained the proving ground that readied him for Barton and others.

"Getting kicked black and blue was all part of the game," he said. "You held on to the ball any way you could.

"Running with the ball was a whole different concept for us. I'd be up against big, tough boys and I was always the smallest. But I learned how to survive."

Aguero remembered those matches were played for the prize of a peso, which would garner one of his favourite sweet treats, an alfajor or dulce de leche.

As United's players took in full-time and three points at the Stadium of Light, and Nigel de Jong brought the ball forward in Manchester to the soundtrack of QPR celebrations – their fans aware of Bolton's fate – the stakes were somewhat higher.

Vacating his spot in a penalty area already crowded by substitutes Dzeko and Balotelli, along with a marauding Kompany, Aguero took possession from De Jong 30 yards from goal.

He faced up to a compact QPR back four, with the visitors' four midfielders all in his immediate vicinity.

"You start to realise what you can do on the pitch and what you can't."

A shuffling touch to his left engineered space outside Shaun Derry, but Aguero needed help. Ideally from someone reliable, given the complete lack of any margin for error.

                                                                *********************

Balotelli was on the pitch in a Manchester City shirt for the first time in over a month.

Mancini had not trusted his wayward protege since a brainless red card in a 1-0 Easter Sunday defeat at Arsenal left City eight points behind United with six games to play. Tevez, who had spent the bulk of the campaign AWOL playing golf in Argentina, represented a far more dependable option.

But with nowhere left to turn, he dared and prayed for Mario to be super. However briefly.

Introduced in the 76th minute, Balotelli gave the impression he had not just been banished from Premier League arenas, but football pitches altogether since his previous game.

The Italy striker managed to run through seven attempts – two on target, five blocked – during a frenzied cameo. It was probably as well Aguero found him with his back to goal, inside the D and grappling with Anton Ferdinand.

"I tried to control the ball and I had a contact from the defender and the ball went a little bit far from my foot," Balotelli told City TV five years on. "I thought in that half second there is maybe going to be a little bit of space for Sergio."

If Balotelli had stayed upright, the likelihood is QPR would have seen through their final piece of dogged tireless defending. In being forced on to his backside for the only assist of his Premier League career, he created opportunity and chaos.

Facing his own goal, Derry had to hurdle a prone Balotelli, while Wright-Phillips' route back to defend was also compromised. With his centre-back partner grounded, Hill held his position square on, while Kompany's haring towards the six-yard box dragged left-back Taye Taiwo with him.

A pocket of space opened up. A spot of turf Balotelli was able to locate from his sedentary position. As limbs flailed around him and a tight defence scattered, Aguero was thinking fast. The law of the porteno.

                                                                *********************

Argentina's aforementioned tradition of tough, uncompromising neighbourhood football goes hand in hand with the mystique and mythology that cloaks the country's national sport.

A playing style grounded in skill and improvisation - La Nuestra, which translates as "our way" – was locked into the collective consciousness during the first half of the 20th century. The preeminent football magazine El Grafico, served to deepen this romantic attachment, with depictions of the pibe – literally a kid or urchin, whose rough and ready footballing techinique combined street smarts and skill and was something of an archetype. Typically they would dribble in the gambeta style, a description that implies close control, cunning and deceit of opponents.

The idea that the likes of Diego Maradona, Ariel Ortega, Lionel Messi and all those other squat, explosive and technically brilliant attackers from Argentina immersed themselves in the yellowed pages of El Grafico archive is far-fetched, but the style is unquestionably embedded. Think of the amount of barrelling, dribbling goals such players have produced – close control, small pauses and faints as thighs piston their way through defences.

As the walls were closing in on City's title bid, Aguero showed himself to be a proud product of this lineage. When Balotelli began his battle against gravity, he deftly checked his run behind and around Wright-Phillips to open up a path to the penalty area.

Letting the pass roll, he shaped to shoot, drawing a scampering Taiwo, who left his Kompany decoy a little too late to remain in control. Aguero did not actually touch Balotelli's return pass until his body position persuaded a rash slide tackle that he nudged beyond with the outside of his right boot.

With Taiwo suitably gambeta'd, there came one last stroke of fortune.

                                                                *********************

"I touched it again and saw I was close to the goal, so I said 'I'll shoot'. The worst thing was that I wanted to shoot hard across goal and it went to the near post, I don't know what happened" Aguero told TyC Sports last month – the latter sentiment at least aligning him with every soul inside the Etihad Stadium that day.

"After watching it back, I realised that if I had shot across goal a defender could have blocked it. I celebrated the goal and told everybody, 'I hit it so well!'."

Goal 23 of a personal Premier League tally that now reads 180, one of 127 with Aguero's ferocious right boot, understandably left an indelible impression on the suddenly defeated Hughes.

"Of all the games I've been involved in, that noise at that moment when that goal went in is different to anything I've ever heard before or since.

"It was just unbelievable sound – different sound to a football crowd. It was a mixture of screaming and noise. It was just an unbelievable moment."

That racket has since been replayed thousands of times across the world. A goal on a tightrope that altered the course of English football, which began with gifting the opposition a 92nd-minute throw-in and ended thanks to a miscue after the main protagonist's strike partner fell over.

It is the Premier League's most famous goal - a moment as synonymous with Manchester as cotton mills and the Hacienda, and yet Argentinian to its very bones.

Giuseppe Farina won the first ever Formula One race on this day in 1950 and much more recently May 13 was a historic day for Manchester City.

Farina put his name in the record books with victory in the British Grand Prix 70 years ago.

Sergio Aguero scored a last-gasp winner against QPR to snatch a first Premier League title for City on an afternoon of high drama in Manchester eight years ago.

It was also Arsene Wenger's last game in charge of Arsenal and there was a tennis first on this day.

 

1950 - Flying Farina storms to Silverstone victory

Italian Farina dominated the inaugural F1 race at Silverstone after starting from pole position.

With King George VI among an estimated crowd of up to 120,000, Alfa Romeo driver Farina took the chequered flag ahead of team-mates Luigi Fagioli and Reg Parnell.

The great Juan Manuel Fangio retired from the race, also titled as the Grand Prix d'Europe, due to engine trouble. 

Farina went on to win the title after such a strong start.

 

1973 - Riggs beats Court in 'Battle of the Sexes' opener

Former world number one Bobby Riggs and the legendary Margaret Court contested the first 'Battle of the Sexes' match on this day in 1973.

Riggs had stated he could beat any top female player at the age of 55 and after Billie Jean King declined his challenge, Court stepped forward to take him on.

Court, the best female player in the world at the time, was soundly beaten 6-2, 6-1 at the San Vincente Country Club in Ramona, California.

Riggs then challenged King once again and she accepted on this occasion, beating him in straight-sets four months later, with the $100,000 winnings donated to charity.

 

2012 - Aguero puts City in dreamland

City looked set to miss out on being crowned champions of England for the first time in 1968 when they trailed 10-man QPR on the final day of the 2011-12 season.

Manchester United were minutes from popping the champagne corks, but neighbours City staged a remarkable fightback at the Etihad Stadium.

Edin Dzeko equalised after 92 minutes and the lethal Aguero rifled home a couple of minutes later, with time almost up, as City sensationally snatched a 3-2 victory to win the title on goal difference.

QPR had played much of the second half a man down after Joey Barton's dismissal.

 

2018 - 1-0 to the Arsenal for Wenger farewell

There was not a dry eye in the away end when Arsene Wenger's long reign as Arsenal manager ended with a 1-0 victory at Huddersfield Town two years ago.

Wenger went over to salute the Gunners faithful before kick-off in West Yorkshire, with the Frenchman also taking a bow.

There was a standing ovation for the departing Arsenal boss after 22 minutes to celebrate the number of years he had been charge of the London club.

Banners were flown over the ground before the visitors took all three points in a game with nothing at stake other than pride, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scoring the only goal.

Thibaut Courtois showed safe hands behind the steering wheel as he got the better of Sergio Aguero in Formula One's Virtual Spanish Grand Prix.

Victory at a simulated Circuit de Catalunya went to Britain's George Russell, racing for the Williams team, who fended off Ferrari's Charles Leclerc in a gripping finish.

The battle of the footballers went the way of Real Madrid goalkeeper Courtois though, with the Belgian's Alfa Romeo placing 12th after the 33-lap contest.

Manchester City striker Aguero marked his debut in the eSport with a solid 14th place, having been battling with golf's Ryder Cup hero Ian Poulter at one stage, and the Argentinian said his debut was "not bad".

Poulter ended up 18th for Renault, one place better off than Barcelona midfielder Arthur Melo, whose Haas finished last of the cars that completed the race.

McLaren's Lando Norris pulled out midway through.

Russell started on pole and wound up in a battle over the closing laps with Leclerc, when it became clear they were the class cars in the field.

Victory looked set to go to Leclerc when Russell picked up a three-second penalty, but Monte Carlo driver Leclerc collected the same punishment himself on the penultimate lap, the pair both penalised for cutting corners.

That let 22-year-old Russell cruise to the finish line, celebrating what he said was a first motor racing win for him since 2018, when he was competing in Formula Two.

"I am feeling ecstatic. I'm not used to this winning thing," Russell told Sky Sports. "I've not done it for a long, long time."

He said he was "almost wetting my pants" when news came through of Leclerc's penalty late in the race, having been "angry" about his earlier sanction.

Leclerc felt "very disappointed" to have a likely victory taken away but praised Russell's performance, describing the Englishman, who fell from pole to fifth place in the early stages, as "extremely quick" when it mattered most.

“When he showed his real pace towards the end he was just too quick for me,” Leclerc said.

He is used to accelerating away from defenders, but this weekend Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero will be looking to speed past virtual Formula One cars instead.

The Argentinian, who is City's all-time record scorer, is the latest man to get behind the wheel for F1's Esports series, which has featured current drivers, other sports stars and celebrities.

Aguero will line up on the grid at Sunday's Spanish Grand Prix in a Red Bull, with Alex Albon, who won the Virtual Dutch Grand Prix last weekend, his team-mate.

"Motorsport is a great passion of mine, so to be given the opportunity to take part in the Virtual Spanish GP is very exciting for me," Aguero said.

"I have travelled to watch F1 races and test myself at track days, which have been exhilarating experiences.

"But this takes it to the next level and gives me the opportunity to race and compete against real F1 drivers. I can't wait."

Aguero follows England cricketers Ben Stokes and Stuart Broad, singer Liam Payne, Real Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois and golfer Ian Poulter in taking part in the series.

There have been four races so far in a series set up to fill the void left by the absence of any actual F1 races due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Manchester City star Sergio Aguero believes most players are "scared" to return to action in the Premier League amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Reports say England's top flight could resume as early as June after being suspended in March, with a meeting set to be held on Friday.

But Aguero feels most players are fearful amid the COVID-19 crisis, with more than 233,000 deaths worldwide from among those to test positive for the virus.

"The majority of players are scared because they have family, they have children, they have babies," he told El Chiringuito TV.

"When we go back, I imagine that we will be very tense, we will be very careful and the moment someone feels ill, you will think, 'what's gone on there?'

"It does scare me."

The United Kingdom has been hit hard by coronavirus, with more than 171,000 confirmed cases and a death toll exceeding 26,000.

Argentina international Aguero said the fact some people could be asymptomatic was worrying.

"I'm scared but I'm with my girlfriend here and I'm not going to be in contact with other people. I'm locked in my house and the only person I could infect is my girlfriend," Aguero said.

"They're saying that there are people that have it and don't have any symptoms but still infect you. That's why I am here at home.

"Maybe I have the illness and I don't even know."

City were 25 points adrift of leaders Liverpool when the Premier League was suspended, while they were still competing in the Champions League and FA Cup.

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