With a stunning goal during his long farewell to Manchester City, Sergio Aguero nudged the team to the brink of another Premier League title yesterday.
The Argentine striker showed his scoring instincts are still sharp ahead of his departure from City after ten years by rifling a finish into the roof of the net in the 57th minute to set up a 2-0 win over Crystal Palace.
His record-extending 258th goal for City left Pep Guardiola in awe.
“What a goal, what an action, what a man,” the City manager said. “We are going to enjoy the last games with him.
“He showed, with his goal, what he is. I am in love as a person.”
Just 84 seconds later, Ferran Torres — a player at the opposite end of his City career — scored the tenth goal of the 21-year-old Spain winger’s debut season in England by curling home a low, left-footed finish from the edge of the area. It was a one-two blow by Guardiola’s heavily rotated team — due to the game coming between the two legs of the Champions League semi-final against Paris Saint-Germain — which took a while to get going at Selhurst Park. But City are now within three points of winning the title.
Indeed, It could even be clinched as early as today if second-place Manchester United lose at home to Liverpool. Asked if the champagne was on ice, Guardiola said with a smile: “We can start to think about putting it in the fridge.”
Meanwhile, Kai Havertz’s majestic brace tightened Chelsea’s grip on a top-four finish as the Blues deepened Fulham’s relegation worries with a 2-0 win at Stamford Bridge. The Germany forward doubled his league tally for the campaign with a goal in each half in an exemplary exhibition of play in the “false nine” role.
Fourth-placed Chelsea opened up a six-point gap on West Ham in fifth after their third win in four matches. West Ham’s game in hand is at Burnley tomorrow.
Chelsea’s 18th clean sheet under Thomas Tuchel set the bedrock for another vital victory, with Real Madrid pitching up at Stamford Bridge for the second leg of their Champions League semi-final on Wednesday. The teams are at 1-1. Havertz was cast as immediate King’s Road royalty the moment he arrived in west London last summer in a big-money switch from Bayer Leverkusen, but this was the day the talented 21-year-old forward finally made his mark.
At times in this debut campaign, Havertz’s natural languid style jarred amid his protracted recovery from the coronavirus and his search for his Stamford Bridge niche.
But against Fulham, Havertz stood out with his movement off the ball, ability in possession, and calm finishing as Chelsea swatted aside Scott Parker’s game but limited Fulham.
Fulham’s fifth defeat in six matches left the team trailing Newcastle, who have a game in hand, by nine points with four games to play.
Chelsea cantered into an early lead thanks to a brilliant piece of play by Mason Mount in the tenth minute.
Mount brought down Thiago Silva’s raking ball forward in stunning style, then threaded a pass between two defenders for Havertz, who slotted home impressively.
Chelsea looked to have doubled their lead soon after, but Havertz was adjudged offside after tapping into the net.
Chelsea goalkeeper Edouard Mendy rebuffed Ademola Lookman, then Timo Werner wasted a fine ball from Hakim Ziyech by cutting the wrong side of Fulham’s defence.
Werner did create Havertz’s second goal, though, his astute through-ball catching Fulham cold. Havertz cut the line expertly to stay onside and then rolled home a finish.
And Brighton virtually guaranteed another season in the top flight by beating Leeds 2-0.
Danny Welbeck won the penalty that was converted by Pascal Gross in the 14th minute, then provided the moment of the match by bringing down a high ball with a neat flick before firing home a low shot for the second goal in the 79th.
Brighton moved ten points clear of the relegation zone with four games remaining and can start planning for a fourth straight year in the Premier League.