Soccer

We Miss the Premier League, too: When Manchester City's Sergio Aguero tied hat-trick record

We Miss the Premier League, too: When Manchester City's Sergio Aguero tied hat-trick record

Weekend mornings haven’t been the same since the English Premier League paused its season. The EPL will be back on NBC this Wednesday when Aston Villa hosts Sheffield United at 1p.m. on NBC Sports Network followed by Arsenal at Manchester City  at 3:15 p.m. 

To get you through the wait, NBC Sports Washington has devoted a week of stories on each of the Big 6 clubs in England: Liverpool, Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal, Tottenham and Manchester City. Because we miss the Premier League, too. 

Our fifth week, the one dedicated to Manchester City, kicks off by looking back at one February night in 2019 when striker Sergio Aguero tied Premier League legend Alan Shearer's hat-trick record.

Sergio Aguero has sported the Manchester City blue and white since 2011 and over that span has netted 180 goals across all competitions.

The world-class striker has had a knack for finding the back of the net throughout his career. His goal-scoring ability is well documented at all three of his club stops -- City, Atletico Madrid, and Independiente -- as well as for his national team, Argentina. And when Aguero strikes, the damage is often more than just once. 

Today, we look back on one February evening from last season, when Aguero scored three goals in Machester City's 6-0 victory over rival Chelsea. The striker's hat trick was the 11th of his career, tying Premier League legend Alan Shearer's hat-trick record.

Entering the match, City trailed Liverpool by three points for the top spot in the Premier League table. The Reds were victorious the day before. Because it had played one more game than Liverpool at the time, City had to defeat Chelsea in order to keep pace.

RELATED: HOW WAYNE ROONEY BECAME A GOAL-SCORING LEGEND IN PREMIER LEAGUE AND LATER FOR D.C. UNITED

From the very first minute, it was clear which was the superior team. City's Raheem Sterling found the back of the net in the fourth minute, giving the home team an early 1-0 lead. Shortly after, City had the chance to double the lead, but Aguero missed a wide-open tap in.

But from that point on it became Aguero's time to shine.

In the 13th minute, Aguero scored his first goal of the contest, and the finish was quite impressive. After receiving a pass, the striker took a few dribbles to his right before firing a missile from 25 yards out into the top right corner of the net past Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga.

Just six minutes later, Aguero would find that back of the net once again. After a pair of headers by Chelsea defenders inside their own penalty box, the striker found himself in the right place at the right time. 

Chelsea's Ross Barkley headed the ball back towards Kepa, but instead it went right to Aguero. He volleyed Barkey's error into the back of the net with his weak foot, leaving Kepa with little chance of stopping his shot.

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Barkley's error allowed Manchester City to take a commanding 3-0 lead just over 20 minutes into the match. Chelsea would concede another goal just before the half and City entered the break with a dominating 4-nil lead.

Aguero entered the second half just one goal away from tying Shearer's hat-trick record, and it didn't take him long at all in the second frame to complete that mission.

The Argentinian completed his 11th Premier League hat trick when he put a penalty kick past Kepa for his third -- and City's fifth -- goal of the game. 

As you can see in the video above, Ethiad Stadium erupted in cheers, as the home fans came to realize their striker had just accomplished a feat only one other Premier League player ever had before.

Sterling would add his second goal of the match in the 80th minute putting the finishing touches on City's dominating 6-0 victory over Chelsea.

After the contest was over, the referee decided to get in on the fun, too. When Aguero approached him for the game ball, referee Mike Dean hid the ball under his shirt on his back, pranking the striker as if he didn't have the ball.

Nearly a year later, Aguero would record his 12th career Premier League hat-trick, breaking the tie between him and Shearer for the most ever.

However, the fashion the striker tied Shearer's record on that February evening in 2019 is an evening the Argentinian will never forget.

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Report: F.C. Barcelona sacks manager after blowout loss to Bayern Munich in Champions League quarterfinals

Report: F.C. Barcelona sacks manager after blowout loss to Bayern Munich in Champions League quarterfinals

Sometimes in life, things come at you fast.

On Friday morning, Quique Setién was the manager of one of the best soccer teams in the world. Hours later, he's reportedly out of a job.

F.C. Barcelona have decided to reportedly sack Setién following the club's blowout 8-2 loss to Bayern Munich in the UEFA Champions League quarterfinals on Friday, according to Fabrizio Romano of Sky Sports.

Setién's tenure in Barcelona was a short one; he replaced Ernesto Valverde just this past January. Expectations are high in the Catalonian capital; failure to deliver at a club like Barcelona will result in what has happened to Setién on Friday.

With Friday's loss, Barcelona will go a full season without a trophy for the first time since 2007-08. To put that into perspective for Americans, George W. Bush was the President of the United States the last time Barcelona went a calendar year trophy-less.

The loss was also Barcelona's third consecutive exit from Champions League in an embarrassing fashion.

Last year, the Spanish side had a 3-0 lead over Liverpool in the UCL semifinals before falling 4-0 in the second leg. To make matters worse, Liverpool were without two top forwards in the match, Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino.

In 2018, Barcelona blew a 4-1 lead on aggregate to A.S. Roma in the Champions League quarterfinals. Roma defeated Barcelona 3-0 in the second leg, advancing on away goals. It was a night everyone in The Eternal City (including the person writing this who was in attendance at Stadio Olympico) will never forget.

Barcelona's Champions League exit marks the official end of a year to forget for the club.

When the 2019-20 season was paused in March due to the coronavirus pandemic, Barcelona was in a solid position for a title run both in Spain and across Europe. But since the team returned to action, the club has played a brand of soccer they want to forget.

When the La Liga season was paused in March, Barcelona held a two-point lead over rival Real Madrid atop the table. When the Spanish league returned in June, inconsistent play from Barcelona allowed Real Madrid to jump them in the table and eventually win La Liga.

Friday's embarrassing loss to Bayern Munich, ending the club's Champions League hopes, was just the cherry on top of a horrific couple months for the club.

Rumors swirled earlier this month that Lionel Messi, arguably the greatest player of all-time and a Barcelona lifer thus far, wants out. The world's greatest player for more than a decade just turned 33 in June. Barcelona has yet to hit rock bottom yet, but what once seemed unthinkable could be the reality for the club should Messi move on.

D.C. United to return to Audi Field as MLS will host local matches beginning August 12

D.C. United to return to Audi Field as MLS will host local matches beginning August 12

Following the conclusion of the MLS is Back Tournament, MLS will continue its 25th season by having teams compete in their local markets, the league announced on Saturday.

Thus, D.C. United will be returning to Audi Field for regular-season action. The team will open up on the road against FC Cincinnati on Friday, August 21, before having its home opener on Tuesday, August 25, against the New England Revolution. For at least the beginning of the season, no fans will be in attendance. 

“I would like to thank everyone involved with the MLS is Back Tournament -- players, coaches, staff and partners -- for their role in helping us recapture the momentum we had at the beginning of our 25th season and reconnect with our passionate fans,” MLS Commissioner Don Garber said in a statement. “Since suspending play in March, we have been working on plans to play as much of our season as possible, beginning with the tournament in Florida and resuming in our local markets following the competition. We remain focused on the health and safety of our players, coaches and staff, and look forward to continuing our season in our home markets.”

Though the league is planning to allow teams to travel after holding the tournament in a bubble, it doesn't mean protocols will lessen in the midst of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Players will continue to be tested every other day and are strongly advised to limit exposure outside of team facilities and mandated areas.

However, a major complication is how the three Canadian teams (Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver) will handle the season. Much like how the Toronto Blue Jays had to relocate to Buffalo to play the MLB season, Canada still has tight restrictions in place when it comes to leaving the country and coming back.

MLS states that it will have a clearer picture of the schedule in September, but initially plans to have U.S. teams only square off against one another. That may lead to the three teams north of the border only playing one another for the beginning of the season. PLans there remain uncertain. 

As it stands now, the league is set to kick off on August 12 and each team will play 18 games. Decision Day will be on November 8, and 18 teams will enter the playoffs. That number is four more than last season. The MLS Cup will take place on December 12. 

The MLS is Back Tournament is set to come to a conclusion on August 11 and the Portland Timbers will take on Orlando City for the title on August 11. D.C. United did not reach the knockout stage after finishing last in their group.

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