Pep Guardiola believes Sergio Aguero will never lose his scoring instinct after the veteran striker made a goalscoring return from injury against Marseille in the Champions League.
Aguero had missed the last three games with a knee injury but scored 10 minutes after coming off the bench to add to Ferran Torres’ opener at the Etihad.
Alvaro Gonzalez then put into his own net as he tried to stop Raheem Sterling scoring to wrap up a comfortable win for City, who had already won Group C prior to Wednesday’s game.
Aguero, 32, was making just his fifth appearance of an injury-hit season so far, but Guardiola praised the Argentina international’s continued threat in front of goal.
“His instinct to score will always be there,” said Guardiola.
“He had three or four training sessions and the reaction was good. He played for 25 minutes and scored a goal.”
Guardiola, however, confirmed that Saturday’s Manchester derby comes too soon for Aguero to make a return to City’s starting line-up.
His strike moved him onto 41 Champions League goals and level with Neymar, who got a hat-trick earlier in the day, in the battle to be the competition’s top South American goalscorer – with the obvious exception of Lionel Messi, who has 118.
The victory earned City a number of notable milestones.
A group points tally of 16 from six games is their biggest haul and matches the most achieved by any English club at this stage.
However, while Arsenal (2005-06) and Tottenham (2017-18) also managed the same tally, only Manchester United (2007-08) used it as a springboard to win the competition.
City also conceded only one goal in topping Group C, a feat last achieved by fierce rivals Manchester United among English clubs, in 2010-11.
“I am really happy for the way we played in all the games without exception,” added Guardiola. “We scored goals, we conceded few.
“In general good in all the games, we are into the next round now and we’ll see the incredible teams so it’s an interesting draw. Hopefully we arrive in a good shape, good mood and we will see.”
Before a trip to Old Trafford, Guardiola could not have asked for a more straightforward assignment against Marseille, although it was not without one negative.
The City boss has been one of the most vocal managers expressing concern about the physical demands expected of the players this season.
So he probably was not surprised to see defender Eric Garcia, whose contract expires at the end of the season, unable to continue after suffering what seemed to be a hip injury midway through the opening period.
Garcia’s exit brought England defender John Stones into the fray.
From looking like he had no City future when he went two months without a Premier League appearance following the £65m arrival of Ruben Dias from Benfica, Stones has suddenly muscled his way back into Guardiola’s plans.
And, in a first half devoid of any real goalmouth action, Stones slid in to deny Valere Germain a shooting chance in one of the few moments of danger around the City goal.
The lack of activity was bitterseet for USA keeper Zack Steffen, who was making his Champions League debut.
Steffen was only called upon once in the first half, to block a Pape Gueye effort from an acute angle that was probably going wide anyway.
He had even less to do in the second half, when he was reduced to the role of spectator, which is almost certain to be his role at the weekend, with Ederson due to return to the starting line-up.
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