Sergio Aguero praised by Pep Guardiola after hat trick in Newcastle win
MANCHESTER -- Pep Guardiola believes that Sergio Aguero showed his importance to the team after his hat trick in Manchester City's 3-1 victory over Newcastle United.
The striker's role appeared to be under threat when they pursued a transfer for Alexis Sanchez, but City pulled out of the race for the Arsenal forward as they believed the package to sign him became too expensive.
Guardiola said ahead of the Newcastle game that he would not be signing a new striker, and Aguero responded as City got to back to winning ways after their first Premier League defeat of the season at Liverpool last Sunday.
"We are not going to buy another striker, because we have [Aguero] and in two or three weeks Gabriel is back," the City boss told a news conference. "We are so happy for him.
"Sergio has his talent -- before the first goal, he didn't touch the ball, first touch goal. It's a special gift -- there are no words to describe how good he is in that position. We need him, we need a guy to score the goals we're so happy for him.
"I think how Sergio played his career here. The fact one player comes or doesn't come doesn't depend on his reaction. The last games apart from Anfield he scores goals. It depends not on one person come or doesn't come. This chapter is over, finished so we are going to think of the future and the future is three days when we play Bristol [City, Carabao Cup semifinal]."
Guardiola was delighted with the way City returned to winning ways after the defeat at Anfield.
City maintained their 12-point gap over second-placed Manchester United, who had claimed three points against Burnley shortly before the kick-off at the Etihad Stadium.
"They reacted well with huge personality and we won the game," Guardiola said. "When the game was 2-0 we didn't concede one chance except from the first action in the first minute.
"But we reacted good. We score goals and conceded few chances. That's why another three points is so important for us after one defeat at Anfield. It is important to avoid two bad results in a row and we are satisfied."
Aguero scored his first with a deft header from Kevin De Bruyne's cross and added a second from the penalty spot before smashing in a third with his left foot to complete a perfect hat trick.
Newcastle boss Rafa Benitez, however, wasn't happy with the penalty award after Raheem Sterling was brought down by Javier Manquillo.
"It was soft," he said. "I think that we wanted to stay in the game and we did it, the penalty was a bit soft and it changed everything.
"After we score we had a couple of chances. They are a very good team, our reaction was quite good. We changed at the end and played with four at the back, the idea was to stay solid and try to regain and play counter attack.
"I have been praising the players the whole season in terms of effort, sometimes it's a bit of luck. If you have a little bit of luck you can be ahead in some games."
Jonathan is ESPN FC's Manchester City correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @jonnysmiffy.