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Sergio Agüero

Aguero penalty gaffe leaves Man City legend chasing one final magic moment

09:00 EAT 09/05/2021
Sergio Aguero Pep Guardiola Manchester City GFX
The Argentine's failed Panenka attempt against Chelsea could, with his contract up in June, be his last meaningful moment in a sky blue shirt

When it was announced that Sergio Aguero would be leaving Manchester City at the end of the season,  talk quickly turned to what would be a fitting way for him to end his Etihad Stadium career.

Perhaps he would net a crucial goal in the Premier League run-in? Or even a winner in a potential Champions League final?

But after his shocking penalty miss against Chelsea on Saturday, there is now a danger that the Argentine's last meaningful act in a sky blue shirt will not be one he, nor anyone else associated with the club, remembers fondly.

With City leading 1-0 in first-half stoppage time and knowing victory would secure them - and Aguero - a fifth Premier League title, the former Atletico Madrid man was handed the ball after Billy Gilmour fouled Gabriel Jesus inside the penalty area.

But when his attempted Panenka looped into the arms of visiting goalkeeper Edouard Mendy, Aguero could do little to hide his embarrassment.

He shuffled away sheepishly, apologising Senegal international Mendy as he did, and would no doubt have spent the half-time break saying sorry to his team-mates too.

That guilt will have only grown during the second half, as goals from Hakim Ziyech and Marcos Alonso secured a come-from-behind win for Thomas Tuchel's side, the title celebrations put on hold for at least another 24 hours.

"I would like to apologise to my team-mates, staff and supporters for missing the penalty." Aguero wrote on Twitter post-match. "It was a bad decision and I take full responsibility."

Pep Guardiola could not hide his fury at the miss when watching from the sidelines, though the Catalan refused to castigate the striker publicly after the game.

“It’s selfish because he missed it, if he scored a goal you would say what a genius he is,” Guardiola insisted when asked if the way Aguero took the penalty was selfish.

“Always I said to the players taking penalties: 'Make one decision, right, left - whatever you want, but commit to it.' He was convinced to do this and he missed it.

“Everyone is disappointed but the most disappointed is him.

“He’s a sensible guy, we’re not going talk about what Sergio has done for this club for this team right now, for all the period he has been here.

“He took the decision, and that’s all. Nobody expected it but he took the decision.

“It’s okay, if he was convinced, do it. The takers have to take responsibility.”

Quite whether the likes of Jurgen Klopp, David Moyes and Brendan Rodgers will be as forgiving, given the implications the result had in the top-four race, is unlikely.

Aguero's miss from the spot came just over a minute after City had taken the lead through Raheem Sterling, though it really should have been Aguero who broke the deadlock.

Jesus chased down Andreas Christensen before forcing the Chelsea centre-back into a mistake before sending over a low cross into the path of Aguero.

The goal was gaping for City's record goalscorer, but his first touch was poor, and though it allowed Sterling to run onto the ball and stroke home, it spoke of the rustiness that has plagued Aguero's game during his final year at City.

Just a week ago, the 32-year-old had looked at his clinical best in the victory at Crystal Palace, scoring a stunning opening goal with deadly precision.

But against a higher standard of opposition on Saturday, he looked off the pace.

Aguero has scored more goals against Chelsea than any other player in Premier League history, but lacked the quality to extend his tally before being substituted after 70 minutes.

Chelsea are one of the sides that have been linked with picking him up on a free transfer when he leaves after 10 years at the Etihad, but Tuchel will not have seen anything to suggest Aguero can be an alternative option to the misfiring Timo Werner.

A hunger for goals may not have deserted Aguero, but some of his trademark sharpness could have, with a year out through injury having taken its toll.

There are still plenty of high-class suitors out there for him, and a pain-free run in a top side will hopefully see him getting close to the brilliant form that has made him a City legend.

But for now, it seems unlikely that he will be trusted to start next time City face Chelsea, in the Champions League final on May 29.

Most, if not all, of the nine players who were rotated out of Guardiola's team from the semi-final win over Paris Saint-Germain will be in line to start in Istanbul, and as such it is difficult to read too much into Saturday's result in the context of the two teams' upcoming reunion.

That leaves Aguero facing up to being an impact substitute, his chance of a fairy-tale end to his City career slim at best.

The game could, of course, go to a penalty shootout, which given City's record in recent times is a concerning prospect for their supporters.

If it does, and Aguero is on the pitch, let's just hope the Panenka is kept in his locker this time.