Sergio Aguero is making the most of his reprieve at Manchester City.
Back in the team after an injury to new signing Gabriel Jesus, Aguero scored two goals for the second straight game to lead City’s fightback in a 5-1 win over second-tier Huddersfield in an FA Cup fifth-round replay on Wednesday.
It followed his double against Monaco in the Champions League last week and got City coach Pep Guardiola’s seal of approval.
"The best Sergio I have ever seen," Guardiola said.
It has taken some time for Aguero, one of City’s greatest ever players and its first-choice striker since 2011, to win over his new coach.
Guardiola hasn’t been satisfied with Aguero’s work off the ball, calling out the Argentina international publicly and dropping him for some games in the first half of the season. Then, following Gabriel Jesus’ arrival in January, Aguero was made the back-up to the Brazilian for four straight games, only for Gabriel Jesus to break a bone in his foot during a Premier League match against Bournemouth on Feb. 13.
Aguero returned to the team and is doing exactly what Guardiola wants.
"His performance was amazing," Guardiola said, "not just his runs, but he runs at the right moment, the right tempo. When that happens, he is involved in the game. He is so precise with the ball, his dribbling."
"When he plays like that," Guardiola added, "Sergio is unstoppable."
City bounced back from falling behind in the seventh minute at Etihad Stadium as Guardiola’s decision to play a virtually full-strength team paid off.
Leroy Sane started the fightback with a 30th-minute tap-in and City was 3-1 ahead within eight minutes thanks to Aguero’s penalty and a close-range goal from right back Pablo Zabaleta, which was set up by Aguero.
Aguero steered in a cross from Raheem Sterling to make it 4-1 in the 73rd before being taken off by Guardiola, who gave his striker a smile and a pat on the back. Substitute Kelechi Iheanacho added a fifth goal in second-half stoppage time.
"I just try to do my best, what the manager asked me to do," Aguero said through a translator. "Help the team and try to make Guardiola happy."
Ultimately, Huddersfield was outclassed, which was to be predicted after making nine changes from its first-choice lineup. For the northern team and its German-born coach David Wagner, promotion from the League Championship remains the priority — and it’s a distinct possibility, with the team currently in third place.
And the visitors had City worried after Harry Bunn gave them the lead with a shot that went under the body of goalkeeper Claudio Bravo, the latest error from a player who lost his first-team place about the same time as Aguero.
Bravo, signed from Barcelona in August, has now conceded nine goals from the last 14 shots he has faced. There was sarcastic applause from some City fans when he saved Huddersfield’s second shot on goal just before halftime.
The FA Cup could be City’s best chance of a trophy in Guardiola’s first season in charge. City leads Monaco 5-3 after the first leg of their last-16 match in the Champions League and is in third place in the Premier League, 11 points behind leader Chelsea.
City set up a quarterfinal match against Middlesbrough on March 11. That means City’s Premier League game against Stoke, originally scheduled for that date, will be brought forward to March 8.
DRAW FOR FA CUP QUARTERFINALS
Middlesbrough vs. Manchester City
Arsenal vs. Lincoln
Tottenham vs. Millwall
Chelsea vs. Manchester United