Pep Guardiola hailed Sergio Aguero and Pablo Zabaleta after Manchester City tightened their grip on a Champions League position with a comfortable 3-1 victory over West Brom.
Aguero did not get on the scoresheet but was instrumental as City moved up to third in the Premier League while Zabaleta bade an emotional farewell to the Etihad Stadium.
Zabaleta, the long-serving right-back, announced last weekend he would be leaving the club at the end of the season.
Tributes to the defender were plentiful but, in terms of business, City were ruthless with goals coming from Gabriel Jesus, Kevin De Bruyne and Yaya Toure. Aguero had a hand in all three.
After turning up to his press conference late and offering the most wonderful excuse – “Sorry I am late, but Tony Pulis is Tony Pulis and red wine is red wine” – the manager turned his attention to Aguero.
“He didn’t score today but he helped us to make assists,” he said. “He made the assist for the first goal, with the pass to Kevin, and the second one and third one with double pass with Yaya.
“Today he played really good. It was an amazing performance.”
Zabaleta’s name was chanted throughout by the crowd, even though he started on the bench. He entered to a hero’s reception just after the hour and was honoured after the game in an on-field presentation.
Guardiola said: “It was a perfect night, especially for Pablo. It’s my first year here but when I see what I saw tonight, I realise the impact of this guy at the club.
“Seeing women cry on the videos means a lot. It was a perfect night for him and his family. He’s a legend for this club, like Joe Hart, Vincent Kompany, Yaya Toure and Sergio Aguero.”