Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola declared two-goal Sergio Aguero’s performance during his side’s FA Cup fifth round replay victory over second-tier Huddersfield the best of his reign.
Aguero continued his hot streak of form with his fourth strike in two matches and 22nd of the season as City recovered from Harry Bunn’s early strike, while Leroy Sane, Pablo Zabaleta and Kelechi Iheanacho also netted for the hosts.
Victory ensured that City reached the competition’s last eight – the 10th quarter-final of the Sheikh Monsour era – where the five-time winners will travel to fellow Premier League side Middlesbrough on 11 March.
There has been much speculation over the future of Aguero and whether he can thrive in Guardiola’s preferred system and style of football.
The 28-year-old has been linked with a move away from the club, although there were few complaints from Guardiola, while much-maligned goalkeeper Claudio Bravo was also singled out for praise.
“It’s the best Sergio Aguero ever and the best I’ve seen yet,” said Guardiola, who is bidding to win his maiden City trophy.
“His performance was amazing. He doesn’t just run but he runs in the right moment with the right tempo. When this happens he is involved in the game and he is so precise with the ball.
“His performance was top, the same with Claudio. His performance with the foot helped us with the build up.”
City had been knocked out of the FA Cup by lower league opposition in two of the last three years and conceded early, yet not before Sane had crashed an effort against the post.
But Huddersfield, who made nine changes from their 1-1 draw with Barnsley on Saturday, stormed into a seventh-minute lead following a swift counter-attack. The move culminated in ex-City academy player Bunn firing low through Bravo, who failed to cover himself in glory, following a clever pass from midfielder Philip Billing.
The home side retaliated and all but secured their place in the quarter-finals with three goals before half time. Sane levelled on the half hour mark, tapping home following neat trickery and potent delivery from Raheem Sterling.
Five minutes later Aguero rifled home a spot-kick after being felled in the penalty area by Jon Gorenc Stankovic, while the Argentinian hit the post before turning provider and allowing Zabaleta to apply a close-range finish to a fizzed cross.
City put the tie beyond all doubt inside the final 20 minutes when Sterling’s low cross to the near post was turned beyond Coleman by Aguero. Substitute Iheanacho then added further gloss to the scoreline with a last-gasp flick.