Manuel Pellegrini hailed Sergio Aguero as one of the best players in the Barclays Premier League after the Manchester City striker scored a hat-trick in a 3-0 win over 10-man Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.
With a top-four place at stake and a first Champions League semi-final against Real Madrid on the horizon, City had more to play for than reigning champions Chelsea, who remained 10th after Saturday’s loss.
Aguero struck twice from counter-attacks, with the impressive Kevin De Bruyne shining on his return to west London, before tucking home a penalty after Thibaut Courtois was dismissed for fouling Fernandinho inside the box.
The Blues created very little and have now won just one of their last seven games in all competitions, with Guus Hiddink losing two league games in a row for the first time in 12 years.
But Aguero’s hat-trick took the Argentina international to 21 league goals for the campaign and helped move City to third in the table.
Despite another prolific season, Aguero has not been included on the shortlist for the Professional Footballers’ Association Player of the Year, and Pellegrini was at a loss to explain why.
“It is very strange that Sergio has played so many years here and has never been the best player in the Premier League,” he said.
“I think he is really great. I think in the Premier League we have very good players, but without doubt Kun is one of the best, if not the best.
“It was a great victory and a very good performance, very important not just to win but to play the way we did.”
De Bruyne was rampant having missed almost two months with a knee injury before returning at the start of April.
Pellegrini has also welcomed back Samir Nasri after a five-month lay-off, and he too impressed – with the City boss pleased to have all of his big-hitters fit and competing for places.
“We make some very important counter-attacks but I think we had a lot of possession, we defended very well and created a lot of chances,” he said.
“I always say when you have all of your best players 100 per cent and playing all together, with Kevin, with Kun, with Yaya (Toure), with Nasri, with Fernandinho, of course it is better.
“One of the merits of this squad is to be involved in all competitions. We won the Capital One Cup, unfortunately we lost here 5-1 and wanted revenge for the FA Cup with our young team.
“We are in the Champions League and for different reasons we are not fighting for the Premier League – but when you have all of those players of course it is more easy.”