Sergio Aguero declared results to be more important than personal milestones despite equalling a Premier League record in Manchester City's 6-0 demolition of Chelsea.

Aguero took his tally of goals since the turn of the year in all competitions to 10 with a treble in Sunday's thrashing of the Blues at the Etihad Stadium. 

The City striker moved above Tommy Johnson and Eric Brook to become the club's record league scorer, as well as joining Alan Shearer on 11 Premier League hat-tricks. 

Aguero missed an open goal before making amends in spectacular style with a 25-yard strike. His second was a controlled volley from close range after a Ross Barkley error, while he claimed the match ball - which he jokingly had to wrestle off referee Mike Dean after the final whistle - with a second-half penalty. 

"I don't know, sometimes it happens," Aguero told Sky Sports of his close-range miss. 

"The next one I scored. The important thing is to get the ball and for the team to win. 

"I have to continue the same way, but it's important to win."

Sterling scored City's first and last goals as Pep Guardiola's men inflicted Chelsea's record defeat in the Premier League.

And the England forward hailed team-mate Aguero after his latest hat-trick helped move City back to the top of the table, as they sit above Liverpool on goal difference.

"It was a terrific performance from the team - the manager set us up and got us ready for the game," Sterling told Sky Sports.

"Sergio is a player we depend on. You saw with his first strike, putting the ball in the top corner - you have to cherish players like that.

"It was just a win and another three points. The most important thing is to get three points."

Records tumbled as Chelsea crashed to their largest Premier League loss in a 6-0 hammering at the hands of Manchester City on Sunday.

Maurizio Sarri's reputation took another damaging blow less than two weeks on from the dreadful 4-0 defeat at Bournemouth with the Italian's team ruthlessly sliced apart at the Etihad Stadium.

The Blues shipped four goals in the first half of a top-flight match for the first time since 1999 and the ugly stats piled up from there, Sergio Aguero and a rampant City offering no respite after the interval.

Star striker Aguero celebrated a scene-stealing treble while Raheem Sterling bookended the scoring on a miserable day for the visitors, who dropped back to sixth in the table.

Here is a snapshot of the damning numbers from a dark day for Chelsea.

 

1 - This was the first time a Sarri side has conceded more than four goals in a match, and marked his heaviest ever league defeat as a head coach.

4 - Chelsea have shipped a minimum of four goals in consecutive away league games for the first time since December 1990.

6 - The Londoners conceded six goals in a Premier League match for the first time in their history. This was also their heaviest hiding in all competitions since April 1991.

7 - The Blues are winless in their last seven league away games against 'Big Six' teams, and have lost the last five in a row.

13 - Only embattled Fulham have given up more Premier League goals in 2019 (15) than Chelsea's 13.

Sergio Aguero equalled the record for Premier League hat-tricks as a rampant Manchester City thrashed Chelsea 6-0 at home to leapfrog Liverpool and return to the table's summit.

Chelsea were hammered 4-0 at Bournemouth in their last away league match and Maurizio Sarri's side were taken apart by the defending champions at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday, the Blues suffering their heaviest ever Premier League loss.

Raheem Sterling struck in the fourth minute and Ilkay Gundogan rapidly made it four after Aguero's first-half double, with Chelsea unable to muster any response in the face of City's incredible intensity.

Aguero, who also hit a treble in City's last home league game against Arsenal, stroked home a penalty after the break to join Alan Shearer on 11 Premier League hat-tricks and Sterling struck late to complete the scoring.

Pep Guardiola's side move above Liverpool on goal difference, with the Catalan coach enjoying a crushing victory against a side he has lost to on a record three league occasions.

City made a blistering start and led 4-0 inside 25 minutes, with Aguero on target twice.

Sterling opened the scoring with a thumping drive after Bernardo Silva's cross deflected into his path, then Aguero somehow missed an open goal from three yards out.

Aguero soon made amends with a thunderous 25-yard drive after great work from Oleksandr Zinchenko and he then capitalised on Ross Barkley's abysmal header to become City's record league goalscorer.

City's fourth came from Gundogan, his placed 20-yard shot beating Kepa Arrizabalaga, with Ederson brilliantly tipping over Gonzalo Higuain's volley at the other end before the break.

Aguero's header from Kevin De Bruyne's cross crashed against the crossbar but the Argentina attacker was able to celebrate his historic treble in the 56th minute.

Sterling's pace and skill drew a clumsy Cesar Azpilicueta foul inside the box and Aguero beat Kepa once more with an excellent penalty.

Guardiola was able to rest City's hat-trick hero, De Bruyne and Fernandinho for the closing stages and Sterling tapped in a cross from the lively Zinchenko for a simple sixth.


What does it mean? City send Liverpool a message

Goal difference might yet decide the title and, in thrashing Chelsea, City gave themselves an ever larger advantage over Liverpool. For the Blues, this was their fourth consecutive loss away from home in all competitions, with the aggregate score in their most recent three Premier League trips reading 12-0.

Silva's energy drives City forward

Aguero provided City's cutting edge and took his 2019 tally to 10 goals in all competitions, but the platform for their dominance was built on Silva's boundless energy. With namesake David surprisingly on City's bench, Bernardo was brilliant.

Barkley's baffling error gifts Aguero his second

What Barkley was thinking when he headed the ball back towards his own goal from 20 yards out is difficult to understand. Chelsea already trailed 2-0 but setting up Aguero's second of the game ended any hope of a Blues fightback. Barkley looked out of his depth throughout and was unsurprisingly hooked early in the second half.

What's next?

Chelsea will try to recover some pride when they head to Malmo in the Europa League on Thursday, with City at Newport County in the FA Cup two days later. In-form Manchester United are then the visitors at Stamford Bridge on Monday in the fifth round of the cup.

Jamaica-born Manchester City star has offered words of encouragement to a young British fan that has struggled with facing racial abuse.

The plight of the 13-year-old Manchester City fan was brought to the attention of the Sterling by his grandmother.

 According to the letter penned to the England international, the concerned matriarch revealed Ethan Ross, a young goalkeeper in the under-14s team at Newport County, had been badly affected after suffering abuse from bullies in Newport last year.

"Dear Ethan, I have recently been told from your loving Nanna Sue about the tough time you are having with racial abuse," wrote Sterling, quoted by BBC Sport.

"Stand tall, don't let them take away your courage. You are strong and very brave and your nanna is also very proud of you. Keep being you kid."

Sterling has himself been the target of racial abuse.  Most recently the league suspended four Chelsea supporters who abused the Manchester City winger during a Premier League match at Stamford Bridge.

Leicester City suffered the shock of the FA Cup third round on Sunday as Padraig Amond's late penalty secured a famous win for Newport County.

Rachid Ghezzal looked to have spared Leicester's blushes at Rodney Parade, but Marc Albrighton's handball gifted Newport a spot-kick from which Amond sealed glory five minutes from time. 

Newport were perhaps spurred on in their bid for an upset by fellow League Two side Oldham Athletic, who earlier came from behind to beat struggling Fulham at Craven Cottage.

There was no such misfortune for Manchester City as they cruised to a comprehensive 7-0 victory over Rotherham United, matching Tottenham's tally against Tranmere Rovers, with Watford also comfortable winners at Woking.

Elsewhere, QPR ended a 22-year wait to win an FA Cup tie at the first time of asking as they beat Championship leaders Leeds United, while Sheffield United went down at home to National League side Barnet.

COUNTY PILE THE PRESSURE BACK ON PUEL

Leicester's inconsistencies under Claude Puel continued as the Foxes were humbled by the Exiles. 

Puel saw his side beat Chelsea, Manchester City and Everton – while losing to Cardiff City – over the festive period, and his decision to make seven changes backfired when Jamille Matt marked an outstanding display by heading home in the 10th minute from Robbie Willmott's pinpoint cross.

Albrighton hit the crossbar as Leicester piled on the pressure, which finally paid off when Ghezzal drilled home from the edge of the box after Joe Day pulled off an outstanding stop to deny James Maddison.

But there was one final twist when Albrighton blatantly handled while trying to block a cross, and Newport's top scorer Amond stepped up to secure their first FA Cup win over a top-flight team since January 1964.

FULHAM HUMBLED AT THE COTTAGE

Huddersfield Town and Cardiff were dumped out by lower league opposition on Saturday and fellow Premier League relegation candidates Fulham followed suit, with Claudio Ranieri's side suffering a humiliating home defeat to Oldham.

Pete Wild only took charge as caretaker manager in the wake of Frankie Bunn's sacking 10 days ago, and saw his side go behind when Denis Odoi hammered home.

But three-time semi-finalists Oldham rallied and Bournemouth loanee Sam Surridge converted from the spot after Ryan Sessegnon's foul on Peter Clarke.

Aleksandar Mitrovic could not repeat Surridge's feat when his spot-kick was parried wide by Daniel Iversen, with the on-loan Leicester goalkeeper's heroics paying further dividends in the 88th minute.

Callum Lang was the hero, expertly thumping in from Gevaro Nepomuceno's cross to secure the fourth-tier side's passage through to round four.

STERLING SHINES AS CITY HIT SEVEN

Having teed up City's winner against Liverpool on Thursday, Raheem Sterling came to the fore again at the Etihad Stadium, opening the scoring 12 minutes into Sunday's contest.

Championship strugglers Rotherham offered some resistance, but any hopes of a giant-killing were ended by half-time – Phil Foden and a Semi Ajayi own goal putting the result beyond doubt.

It turned into a rout after the interval, Gabriel Jesus netting from Sterling's precise cross, with Ilkay Gundogan then turning provider for City's final three goals – Riyad Mahrez, Nicolas Otamendi and Leroy Sane getting in on the act.

City will be joined in the hat for the fourth round by Watford, who saw off sixth-tier Woking thanks to goals from Will Hughes and Troy Deeney.

BARNET SHOCK THE BLADES, QPR END HOODOO

The Championship's leading three clubs are now all out of the FA Cup, with Sheffield United and Leeds both suffering defeats. 

United were the victims of a massive shock – Shaquile Coulthirst's 21st-minute penalty securing a famous win for Barnet, the lowest-ranked side now left in the competition.

An inexperienced Leeds side, meanwhile, came unstuck at Loftus Road, where Jake Bidwell's header ended QPR's long wait for a win in an FA Cup tie without having to go to a replay.

Raheem Sterling starred as Manchester City blitzed Championship side Rotherham United 7-0 at home in the third round of the FA Cup.

City, who named a strong team despite their exertions in ending Liverpool's unbeaten Premier League run last time out, were always in control at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday.

Sterling gave City an early lead and they were 3-0 up at the half-time interval with Phil Foden and a Semi Ajayi own goal adding to their advantage.

An out-of-form Gabriel Jesus extended City's cushion further after the break, Riyad Mahrez finished off a stunning team move and Nicolas Otamendi powered in a header before Leroy Sane wrapped up the scoring.

Jesus missed two great early chances but City led in the 12th minute, Sterling swapping passes neatly with Kevin De Bruyne and darting into the box to finish well.

After Jesus wasted yet another close-range opportunity from De Bruyne's cutback, Rotherham grew into the game with Clark Robertson and Michael Smith missing headers, but City went into the break 3-0 up.

Foden recorded his first Etihad goal in fortunate fashion as he miscontrolled Ilkay Gundogan's cross, the ball bouncing in off his standing leg, before Ajayi turned a Kyle Walker cross into his own net.

Jesus finally got his goal in the 53rd minute, on hand to tap home Sterling's cross, with Pep Guardiola then handing a club debut to Philippe Sandler.

City had not needed to get out of second gear but they showed their class with a fine goal, Mahrez slotting in Gundogan's pass after Rotherham were sliced open again.

Otamendi rose highest to thump home his first goal of the season from a Gundogan corner and the rout was completed with five minutes to go when Sane's 20-yard drive deflected past helpless goalkeeper Marek Rodak.


What does it mean? City far too good for Millers

A mismatch always appeared likely, with a repeat of City's shock exit at the hands of Wigan Athletic last year never on the cards. Rotherham produced some decent football at times, but also played themselves into trouble on too many occasions.


Sterling shines against outclassed opponents

England international Sterling was City's brightest light with the forward's pace and direct running causing Paul Warne's side problems throughout. A goal and an assist were just rewards for a sharp display and he earned his rest, being replaced early in the second half.

Struggling Jesus' form a problem

Given a start with Sergio Aguero among those rested, Jesus did not take his chance to impress. The striker should have had a first-half hat-trick and, even though he did eventually get his name on the scoresheet after the break, his confidence levels look to be at rock bottom.


What's next?

City have another cup tie on Wednesday, hosting Burton Albion in the first leg of the EFL Cup semi-final, with Wolves visiting the Etihad five days later in the Premier League. Rotherham have a Championship six-pointer at fellow strugglers Ipswich Town on Saturday.

Jamaica international Garath McCleary claims more needs to be done to combat the scourge of racism in modern football.

Recently, high profile cases saw Jamaica-born Manchester City winger Raheem Sterling and Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly both subject to racist abuse from fans, which has led to the practice once again coming sharply into focus.

McCleary is no stranger to such incidents, having faced bitter vitriol from a Bradford fan in 2015.  The guilty party was eventually found and suspended for three years.  Although admitting that racism’s impact on the game has clearly lessened in recent years.  McCleary pointed out that it had not completely gone and is convinced a lot more can be done.

"I saw a documentary with Ian Wright called 'Out of their Skin' and it was a lot worse back in the 1970s, 80s and 90s,” McCleary said.

"People say it’s been eradicated, but I know it hasn’t. I know a few teammates who it’s happened to as well, but I won’t go into that,” he added.

"The fact it happened to Raheem Sterling in a massive game highlighted it all again, but it still goes on a lot lower down the divisions and everywhere really.

"In my case, the fan who said what he said to me got a three-year ban which I don’t think is enough.

Going forward I think more needs to happen like education.

"The humiliation of being re-educated in a community in which you have been dishing out racist abuse could help in some way.”

The destiny of the 2018-19 Premier League title could become a lot clearer on Thursday if Liverpool are able to beat champions Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium.

Jurgen Klopp's men were impeccable over the Christmas period as Pep Guardiola's team wobbled and the Reds would extend their lead to 10 points with victory.

But a restorative 3-1 win at Southampton on Sunday means City can potentially haul in their rivals and reignite a quest to become the first back-to-back winners of England's top flight for a decade.

Predicting how this heavyweight showdown might be resolved with be fiercely debated because, as our combined XI shows, the reserves of talent available to both managers are truly enviable.

Alisson

A choice between two Brazilians in goal. Ederson was excellent in his debut season for City, catching the eye in particular with his footballing abilities. However, compatriot Alisson - who briefly held the world record for a transfer fee paid to sign a goalkeeper until Chelsea went big for Kepa Arrizabalaga - is the first choice for his country. Yes, he made an error against Manchester United, but the former Roma keeper has made a huge difference for the Reds.


Trent Alexander-Arnold

It was also a tough call at right-back, where Trent Alexander-Arnold's form this season gets him the nod over fellow England international Kyle Walker. Alexander-Arnold's expertise from free-kicks - he scored a beauty in a win at Watford recently - adds a useful extra option into our XI. The 20-year-old is also arguably more dynamic than Walker, although Klopp did drop him for the reverse fixture in October.


Virgil van Dijk

When it came to selecting the centre-back pairing, the decision was clear: Van Dijk and someone. The Dutchman had to be patient to get his move to Anfield but the wait was worthwhile for Liverpool, who appear to have turned a clear weakness into an area of strength simply by splashing out £75million. He's been worth every last penny, though. 

Aymeric Laporte

When Liverpool secured Van Dijk's services 12 months ago, City returned their attentions to Bilbao and swooped for Athletic defender Aymeric Laporte. The elegant Frenchman has perhaps not had the eye-catching impact Van Dijk enjoyed at Anfield but his composure, aerial ability and range of passing have established him as Guardiola's go-to defensive man on big occasions.


Andrew Robertson

Benjamin Mendy offered City a new dimension with his raids down the left flank earlier this season before suffering a knee injury. However, Robertson is the choice here. The Scotland captain went from relegation with Hull City to a Champions League final in the space of a year, and even Jose Mourinho had nice words for the full-back: "He makes, I think, 100 metre sprints per minute".


Fernandinho

Every midfield needs a bit of graft to go with the guile. Fernandinho provides a defensive shield for City, his positioning allowing the full-backs to provide width. A master at the niggly 'tactical' fouls that break up play and prevent opposing teams springing on the attack, the Brazilian remains a key component of Guardiola's squad. While his club would be wise to have a replacement in mind, the 33-year-old is more important than ever if the City's recent slump in his absence is anything to go by.

Kevin De Bruyne

Although the Belgium midfielder's 2018 has been heavily hit by injuries, he was the key man as City romped to the title in record-breaking fashion last season. Returning with a stunning strike in the EFL Cup quarter-final against Leicester City, it is ominous that City have kept pace with Liverpool even without having their talisman available for much of the campaign. All eyes will be on his fitness over the coming days.


David Silva

Completing an all-City midfield three is the man the champions' fans call 'El Mago' - the magician. Silva is arguably City's greatest ever player and as such it would be impossible to leave him out despite the growing array of midfield talent available to Klopp. Utility man James Milner, formerly of the Etihad, is perhaps unlucky to miss out but Fernandinho, De Bruyne and Silva is arguably the best midfield trio in world football right now.


Mohamed Salah

It says a lot that there was talk of Salah being a 'one-season wonder' after he made a slow start to 2018-19, such was his incredible form in a debut campaign for the Reds. He appeared to be troubled by the shoulder injury suffered in the Champions League final at the start of the season, but a hat-trick in a thumping win at Bournemouth showed the Egypt star is back to his best. Four goals in five subsequent December appearances have followed.


Sergio Aguero

Guardiola took time to appreciate Aguero's gifts and the Argentina striker has appeared to be second-choice behind Gabriel Jesus at times. But Aguero is now among the first names on the teamsheet for the City boss, who has got the club's record goalscorer to buy into his pressing principles. Aguero is now not only arguably the world's most dangerous penalty box striker, he also performs a similar role to Roberto Firmino in leading his side's press from the front.


Raheem Sterling

Last but not least is Raheem Sterling, who dealt admirably with appearing to be racially abused as City's unbeaten start to the season ended in a defeat at Chelsea. Sterling has taken his game to new levels this season, winning the Premier League's Player of the Month award for November, and he edges out both Firmino and Sadio Mane for the last place in our side.

Manchester City attacker Raheem Sterling believes his team can claim an important win over Liverpool if they are at their best.

Pep Guardiola's side needs a victory at the Etihad Stadium on Thursday to close the gap to Premier League leaders Liverpool to four points.

Despite two defeats in their past three games, Sterling is confident in City's chances against his former club.

"If we can play the way we know we can play, we can beat anyone," he told UK newspapers.

"It's going to be a great game and we're all looking forward to it."

Manchester City fell behind in the title race after suffering shock defeats to Crystal Palace and Leicester City.

However, they rebounded by beating Southampton 3-1 on Sunday and Sterling talked up the importance of that result.

"It's a massive step and just what we needed," he said.

"We had two poor games and we knew we needed to win to give ourselves a chance and we did just that. Our previous two results were difficult to take and I thought we bounced back brilliantly.

"I think we owed it to ourselves and as a team to bring that level we know we can bring."

 

Raheem Sterling praised Manchester City for doing the hard yards in their 3-1 Premier League win at Southampton. 

Pep Guardiola's side headed into the game on the back of consecutive defeats to Crystal Palace and Leicester City - results that saw them fall 10 points behind leaders Liverpool. 

Goals from David Silva and Sergio Aguero either side of a James Ward-Prowse own goal got the reigning champions back on track, but only after a scare late in the first half. 

As in the Leicester and Palace games, City opened the scoring before conceding an equaliser – this time to Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, who was later sent off for a rash lunge on Fernandinho. 

England winger Sterling felt improved application helped the visitors to recover from their recent blip. 

"We've had two difficult results to take. We wanted to give ourselves a chance and that's what we did, not just in terms of our football but off the ball as well," he said. 

"The last three games we started well but then it's been sloppy. Today, in terms of our mentality even before we got to the stadium, we were full of fighting spirit."

Sterling, who is set to face former club Liverpool in a blockbuster clash on Thursday, added: "We had a point to prove for ourselves.

"We've had two difficult results and we wanted to bounce back and we did it brilliantly. The way we ran on and off the ball was brilliant."

Raheem Sterling has shown admirable courage in speaking out to highlight the issue of racism in football, according to Gareth Southgate. 

Raheem Sterling's "incredible" gesture to help a community centre that played a huge part in his upbringing has been lauded by Pep Guardiola.

On Thursday, the Manchester City forward posted on Twitter in order to gain the attention of Brent Council, which is attempting to shut down Bridge Park Community Leisure Centre.

Sterling, who grew up in the community in north-west London, has been trying to contact the authorities through his representatives with the view to helping out those who still live in the area. 

".@brentcouncil need to answer this! Why are my team continuously getting no response, when I'm trying to help the community (especially the kids)- whilst the council are still trying to sell off a key part of my childhood; Brent Park. Can someone answer this pls?" he posted.

Guardiola was asked if Sterling's off-field work was a sign of added maturity from the 24-year-old, who has received plenty of - arguably unfairly - negative media attention in the past.

"The gesture speaks for itself," Guardiola told a news conference ahead of City's clash with Crystal Palace. "If he's more mature, sure in a few years he will be more mature too. It's an incredible gesture.

"These kind of things are always going to come back in his private life, his own life, with the family in a positive way. He feels he can do that or he wants to do that, so in the end, nice things are going to happen in his life.

"When Raheem does this kind of gesture it's because it's going to help the people. Life was so generous and was nice for him so far, in terms of the profession he does and everything.

"He can contribute and make a better society for other people, that is incredible. Just to say thank you for the nice things he has done."

And Guardiola believes that added maturity can only help Sterling - who also donated a substantial sum to the victims of last year's Grenfell Tower disaster - on the pitch.

"Yes of course," the manager added. "People say: 'No, no, people in sport cannot do anything, cannot speak about politicians, cannot do some justice.'

"Of course we have to do. If he believes in doing that, that's a good thing, that's nice. I appreciate it. As part of society, that's good.

"Juan Mata, what he does with his foundation. He and many people are doing a lot of things for the kids. Vincent Kompany. Many, many people do these things and other people don't notice, but they do it. But I am pretty sure they do it because they feel better. It's nice, I like it."

Leroy Sane has praised Raheem Sterling for his performances this season and believes his motivated Manchester City team-mate will only continue to get better in the future.

Marco Silva pointed to misses by Richarlison in his summing up of Everton's 3-1 defeat at Manchester City, but said winning at Etihad Stadium requires "perfect" defending.

Brazilian forward Richarlison has scored eight goals in 15 Premier League appearances this season but he missed a golden opportunity to give Everton the lead against City, shortly before compatriot Gabriel Jesus put the home side ahead.

Jesus scored once more before Dominic Calvert-Lewin headed home to give Everton hope, but Raheem Sterling restored City's two-goal advantage with his first touch after coming on as a substitute.

"Manchester City deserved the three points," Silva conceded after the game. "They were more effective than us with the chances they created.

"We knew before the match their qualities. We needed to be perfect in defence.

"Until they scored the first goal, the game was within what we expected and planned. They did not shoot once.

"The biggest chance until that moment was Richarlison's chance, a big, big chance. After that, it changed."

The result left Everton without a win in their last four Premier League matches and Silva admitted his defenders need to improve.

Both Jesus and Sterling were left unmarked for their second-half strikes, despite Everton having plenty of men back.

"We knew they had the quality to command the match," Silva continued.

"We had three against one in our box for that chance and when you have Michael [Keane] and [Yerry] Mina against Jesus and they score that means we could do better.

"They score too fast the 3-1 and after we have three clear chances to score.

"When you have chances like Richarlison, Richarlison again, Theo [Walcott] and Dominic [Calvert-Lewin], you have to score."

Pep Guardiola expressed his admiration for Raheem Sterling after the England forward ended the week in which he was the subject of alleged racist abuse by Chelsea supporters by scoring with his first touch against Everton.

Sterling came on as a second-half substitute moments after Dominic Calvert-Lewin scored to put Everton back in the game at 2-1 and made an immediate impact, heading Fernandinho's cross into the net from close range to restore City's two-goal advantage.

Sterling spent the week leading up to the game in the headlines following an incident in City's 2-0 defeat at Stamford Bridge, and Guardiola said the 24-year-old has the support of everyone at the Etihad Stadium.

"I think Raheem Sterling has handled the last few years in terms of situations and rumours, about him or his family or the colour of his skin, very calmly," Guardiola told reporters.

"I admire him and appreciate that it’s not easy for him.

"He's loved by all staff and in the locker room."

Gabriel Jesus scored his first Premier League goals since August to give City the lead and Guardiola said the Brazilian reaped the rewards for his intelligent positional play.

Sergio Aguero and Kevin De Bruyne were named among the substitutes, the latter coming on in the second half to make his return to first team action after a knee injury, and Guardiola underlined the importance of players coming back to fitness.

"We need everyone," said Guardiola. "Danilo and Sergio Aguero are coming back for other games - next Tuesday, there is another one [against Leicester City in the League Cup].

"We need all the players. Sterling deserved to play because of [his performance against] Hoffenheim. But of course, we can improve and do better.

"Gabriel Jesus is so important. Strikers need to score goals. The difference today was that he scored as he was in better positions.

"It's so good for him and our team. His performance was so valuable."

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